FARMING CONNECT is working in collaboration with agricultural veterinary practices throughout Wales to provide fully-funded animal health and welfare training workshops to farmers.  The initiative is intended not only to raise the importance of animal health and its impact on livestock in Wales but the economic implications which can be devastating and sometimes insurmountable for some businesses.

Workshop topics are aligned to current Welsh Government animal health and welfare priorities and the training modules have been designed by the National Animal Disease Information Services (NADIS).

With more than 30 participating practices and over 120 farm vets involved in delivering the training, each one will be actively promoting the workshops to their own clients and within their local communities.  The list of diseases and issues which will be covered currently includes animal health planning; antimicrobial and anthelmintic resistance; Bovine TB; BVD; Johne’s disease; lameness in dairy cattle; sheep parasite control, including roundworm and blowfly; reducing mastitis and reducing pre and post-lambing losses.

Rebecca Summons, who is managing the project on behalf of Lantra Wales, says that all farmers registered with Farming Connect can apply for a place on one or more of the workshops by first completing an online ‘expression of interest’ form which can be completed on the Farming Connect website. The website also provides a list of upcoming workshops and participating veterinary practices.

“All places will need to be confirmed by the relevant practice, as each workshop will be limited to no more than 20 farmers.  If your own vet is not running the workshop(s) you want to attend, you can express interest in the one(s) that are most relevant.

“Each three-hour workshop will provide practical guidance on identifying, preventing, controlling and treating some of the most typical or prevalent diseases and issues affecting Welsh farm businesses,” said Ms. Summons.

Farm vet Oliver Hodgkinson of Trefaldwyn Vets in Montgomery, last year’s winner of the Farmers Weekly Farmer Adviser of the Year award, is one of the vets who will be delivering the workshops.  Mr.Hodgkinson says that this new initiative will not only help farmers identify issues before they come problematical, but they will know what steps to take to reduce risks within their own businesses.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for farmers, some of whom will already be practice clients, to come along and learn how to implement best practice systems with fully- funded training from professionals.

“Each workshop will cover elements which contribute to optimum animal health and welfare standards including biosecurity and how best to avoid disease transmission.

“Attendees will be given guidance on sector-specific clinical signs and diagnosis, treatment and control and they will also understand the economic implications for the business as a whole,” said Mr. Hodgkinson.

NB Sheep farmers planning to visit this year’s Royal Welsh Smallholders & Countryside Festival (Llanelwedd, May 18/19) will also be able to drop into a short AH&W presentation at Speakers’ Corner, in the South Glamorgan Hall at 2pm on Saturday, 18 May when NADIS vet Phoebe McCarter will give a presentation on how to increase flock health, productivity and profitability by tackling the seasonal issue of controlling parasites in sheep, including roundworm and blowfly. 

Both Farming Connect and  the Animal Health and Welfare training programme have received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.  Lantra Wales leads on the delivery of the Animal Health and Welfare training programme, which is a call-off contract for the Farming Connect Lifelong Learning and Development Programme.

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