Farm Vet Champions – case study

Farm Vet Champions is a major collaborative project that is spearheaded by RCVS Knowledge and funded by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), which aims to unite and empower UK farm animal veterinary practitioners to establish good antimicrobial stewardship in practices and on farms.

Fiona Lovatt, the Clinical Lead for Farm Vet Champions at RCVS Knowledge says: “For grass-root progress in good antimicrobial stewardship in the ruminant sectors to be made, it is necessary to empower the gatekeepers of antimicrobial prescribing, namely farm veterinary practitioners and their wider practice teams.  This re-focus at the point of general practitioner-farmer interaction led RCVS Knowledge to spearhead the development of the innovative and widely collaborative Farm Vet Champions (FVC) initiative. The community continues to grow since its launch in May 2021 and the online learning platform and SMART Goals tool are an excellent resource to support veterinary teams in responsible antimicrobial stewardship. The principles of this initiative are to plan ahead to know the risks and disease threats, to prevent these threats by reviewing animal management and husbandry, and to protect patients and the wider population. Importantly, this is about thinking more laterally than simply applying treatments, it is fundamentally about a holistic approach that focuses on good health rather than treating disease.”

Farm Vet Champions case study

Vet Stephanie Winslow from Northern Ireland is a Farm Vet Champion. During the 2022 lambing season, one of her farm clients had a strong desire to reduce oral antibiotic use on farm. Together they formulated a strategic approach to reduce Escherichia coli infections causing Endotoxaemia ‘watery mouth disease’, Colisepticaemia or localised enteritis in neonatal lambs.

Stephanie says: “Plan, prevent, protect was the foundation of the strategy. Pre-lambing body condition scoring, nutritional analysis, and metabolic profiling guided the changes in dietary provision and housing management essential for success. A subset of ewe colostrum was tested using a Brix refractometer indicating good colostrum quality and nutritional adequacy.

“Appropriate pre-lambing transition, hygiene plans, monitoring colostrum quality, quantity and timing, environmental factors, udder and feeding hygiene all ensured a successful transition away from the need for any oral antibiotics.”

The results were incredibly positive, says Stephanie who is working with other sheep farmers in the same way: “No lambs died from scour or watery mouth this year.”

Talking about the benefits of the FVC initiative, Stephanie says: “Farm Vet Champions drives better practice for the responsible use of medicines within a farm animal setting and the online modules and learning are easy to access and use. It’s also really flexible – I didn’t complete it all at once but worked it around my schedule; that’s the joy of online support like this, you can come back to it when it’s convenient.

“I believe this is an important industry initiative and I would encourage others to register and take advantage of the free training.

“Making any changes on farm can be daunting but this case just goes to show what can be achieved with the right planning and support in place, and vets and farmers working closely together.”

Learn more about Farm Vet Champions

A Farm Vet Champion (FVC) is a steward within their work setting for the responsible use of medicines; they champion better practice for the responsible use of medicines within their farm animal setting.

Farm Vet Champions have direct access to a free online learning platform containing a variety of modules relevant to their area of work, to establish a concerted approach towards good antimicrobial stewardship in practices and on farms. There are over 20 hours of free on-demand CPD. These materials are invaluable to all farm-associated veterinary professionals as well as their wider practice teams. Farm Vet Champions can be accessed on the RCVS Knowledge Learn platform. The learning modules cover:

  • technical species-specific modules
  • vet-farmer communication skills and behaviour change principles
  • the legal use of veterinary medicines, policies, and One Health aspects of antibiotic prescribing and stewardship