How initiatives like Farm Vet Champions are supporting the pig sector

Farm Vet Champions (FVC) is a major collaborative project, spearheaded by RCVS Knowledge, to empower the veterinary community in a united front to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

A Farm Vet Champion (FVC) is a steward within their work setting for responsible use of medicines and it is a tool that can help support antimicrobial stewardship across a number of livestock sectors. They have access to free training, designed in collaboration with industry experts. FVC’s champion better practice for responsible use of medicines within their farm animal setting.

Lucy Coyne, Senior Technical Policy Manager at NOAH, and former Project Manager for FVC, recalls her early experiences on a pig farm as a new graduate vet and how tools like Farm Vet Champions would have been helpful back then. She says: “As a mixed practice new graduate vet I remember panicking when I had to go and see a sick pig and feeling out of my depth advising pig keepers on herd health management and disease prevention. Farm Vet Champions didn’t exist then but I wish it had as it would have been invaluable.”

Lucy, who has a PhD in veterinary epidemiology exploring the behavioural drivers for antimicrobial use in UK pig practice and has previously worked for AHDB on the eMB-Pigs, continues: “Farm Vet Champions is fantastic tool as it introduces how to apply the plan, prevent, protect principles to smallholder and commercial pig herds and is delivered by sector specialists. It is a brilliant resource to continue to support the pig industry in their impressive efforts at achieving antibiotic use reductions and promotes targeted and responsible antibiotic use. Farm Vet Champions is a vital tool right across UK livestock sectors and I would encourage vets right across the UK to sign up.”

RUMA also spoke with Claire Scott, BVetMed MRCVS, Clinical Veterinary Sciences PhD Scholar, Bristol Veterinary School, University of Bristol, who shares her support for the Farm Vet Champions initiative: “As a pig vet and PhD researcher exploring antibiotic use practices amongst smallholders, I’ve investigated how we vets can encourage responsible antibiotic use in this group. Where I see the most scope for improvements is around how we communicate and discuss prevention, diagnosis and treatment of clinical signs with our smallholding clients. The Farm Vet Champions project has a specific stream based around communication, including presentations introducing approaches that my research and experience supports for all farm species, including pigs. I would encourage any farm vet to take a look at these excellent resources and explore which strategies could be integrated into their own practices to best encourage antibiotic stewardship alongside their clients.”

Users can access the platform and choose which modules are relevant to their area of work. With 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. Modules include: Introduction to Medicines, Communications and Behaviour, Collating and Recording Antimicrobial use, How to Set SMART Goals, as well as sector specific modules.

In the pig module, the Pig Veterinary Society (PVS) introduces how to use antibiotics responsibly in pigs, including pet pigs and small-scale producers.

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.

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