Sheep farmers flock together for specialist advice

Vets are being encouraged to set up 'health clubs' for flocks. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Vets are being encouraged to set up 'health clubs' for flocks. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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While many sheep farmers feel that it is seldom cost-effective to call out a vet to an individual animal, there is a growing awareness that veterinary advice at flock level can help improve financial performance.

And a new initiative being rolled out across the country is encouraging local vets to set up flock health clubs that would offer this benefit to groups of producers willing to join together to share the costs of specialist advice.

The move, which is backed by the National Sheep Association and the Sheep Veterinary Society, would see local vet-led sheep farmer discussion groups set up to allow farmers to share the cost of advice.
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Fiona Lovatt, director of Flock Health, which has created the Flock Health Clubs model, said: “Historically there has been quite a mismatch between the service that vets provide and what their sheep farmer clients are prepared to pay for, so we set up some pilot Flock Health Clubs at practices in the north east and west of England 15 months ago.”

She said the pilot had proved successful, with vets involved reporting improved relationships with their sheep farmers through more regular contact.

The Scottish meeting to encourage vets to offer this service takes place in Stirling on 13 July.