Sheep farmers with smaller flocks are encouraged to share the cost of veterinary advice through a new pay-monthly programme.
Created by Flock Health and supported by the Sheep Veterinary Society and National Sheep Association (NSA), Flock Health Club is a vet-facilitated, sheep farmer discussion group.
Fiona Lovatt, director of Flock Health, says Flock Health Clubs offer sheep farmers access to cost-effective veterinary advice.
“Sheep farmers really value quality advice given by keen sheep vets, but there is often a belief that it is too costly to get their vet involved,” she says.
“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, 15 months ago, we set up some pilot Flock Health Clubs at practices in the North-East and West of England.”
Through more regular contact, vets have reported improved relationships with their sheep farmers, an increase in veterinary involve on these farms, and a steady increase in the number of sheep visiting their practices.
“The best thing from our Flock Health Club has been to see sheep farmers working together, comparing their basic flock data and highlighting areas for improvement,” says Will Barker of Castle Veterinary Surgeons, which ran one of the pilot Flock Health Clubs in the Barnard Castle area of County Durham.
During the pilot run, farmers were charged around £20 per flock per month.
Dr Lovatt says Flock Health Club membership fees will vary from practice to practice, with some offering add-on services.
Vets that wish to start a Flock Health Club within their practice are encouraged to attend one of six events being held up and down the UK in June and July.