Vets and farmers working together on animal health pilot scheme

A PILOT project funded by the Welsh Government to trial and assess how closer working between farmers and vets can improve animal health and improve a farm’s productivity is underway.

The project will be testing a key proposed element of the Sustainable Farming Scheme, which is the Animal Health Improvement Cycle (AHIC).

As part of the project a small group of farm animal vets will deliver regular preventative medicine veterinary visits to achieve improvements in the health and productivity of livestock on farms.

An induction day for the first cohort of vets to deliver the pilot will take place later this week.

Each vet will work closely with a small number of farms to identify areas where livestock performance can be improved, and actions agreed. These actions will be reviewed to see where improvements have taken place.

Twenty-two vets have signed up to the pilot, with each one aiming to recruit three farms in the project.

Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths said: “The proposed Sustainable Farming Scheme allows us to design support for farmers which can make a real difference. Closer working with vets can improve animal health by promoting preventative action, which as well as improving animal welfare will improve a farm’s productivity. The results of this pilot project will be very valuable as we move towards the Sustainable Farming scheme in 2025.”

The Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, Richard Irvine said: “I’m really pleased to see this pilot is now underway. This is an exciting project in the field of livestock veterinary medicine. Vets have been involved in the design of the project which provides real potential to improve animal health and welfare. The AHIC also has the potential to promote sustainability in the livestock sector through partnership working between local veterinarians and farmers, driving a reduced carbon footprint and further strengthening antimicrobial stewardship.”

The project is managed by Welsh Lamb and Beef Producers (WLBP) and includes a project team with a number of vets and scientists with wide ranging expertise in animal health.

Project Director Don Thomas from WLBP said: ‘We are delighted to be delivering this crucial project, which will help farmers in Wales drive animal health, welfare and productivity on their farms. The pilot project will ensure the AHIC scheme is deliverable and can be scaled up for rollout nationally from 2025 delivering the expected benefits.”

Lessons from the pilot project will be captured to inform training to be made available to all livestock vets in Wales.

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