8 June 2020


One of Farming Connect’s latest one-to-one digital training offers is helping farmers avoid the use of unnecessary veterinary medicines. 

‘Prevention is better than cure when it comes to administering veterinary medicines to farm animals,’ according to Dr.Sotirios Karvountzis, a veterinary surgeon with Mendip Vets, one of the approved veterinary practices delivering ‘remote’ subsidised one-to-one training courses to farmers in Wales on behalf of Farming Connect.

As the industry strives to meet the UK government’s current target of administering no more than 21mg of antimicrobials per kilogram of live weight per animal per year, Farming Connect has launched its ‘Safe use of veterinary medicines’ training course to help farmers reduce their use of such drugs. 

The training course, available to eligible farmers registered with Farming Connect, will be arranged at a time agreed between the approved participating vet and the farmer. Funded by 80%, registered farmers, who will need to have a Personal Development Plan (PDP), can apply during Farming Connect’s current skills application window, which is open NOW until 17:00 on Friday, 26 June 2020.  

The content of the course has been designed to help farmers shift from what Dr. Karvountzis describes as the ‘emergency fire-fighting’ approach to a more preventative one, enabling them to improve management of many animal diseases in collaboration with their farm vet. Each farmer will be encouraged to ask questions during their PowerPoint learning session and will be issued with a set of guidance notes at the end. The course can be undertaken using a smartphone, tablet or computer. 

Kevin Thomas, director of Lantra Wales, which together with Menter a Busnes delivers Farming Connect on behalf of the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, explains that there are significant advantages to ensuring farmers have a better understanding of veterinary medicines, not only from the animal health and financial perspectives, but because the industry is now setting more stringent demands to reassure consumers.

“As an ever more discerning public demand high quality produce from our farmers, it’s important that all producers are able to prove that they adhere to the highest standards of animal health and husbandry, which includes administering antimicrobials only when and if it is absolutely essential to do so.”

“An increasing number of farm assurance schemes now insist that suppliers meet stringent animal health and welfare regulations in order to comply with their rules, and completing a Farming Connect ‘Safe use of veterinary medicines’ training course will give you the necessary understanding you need to be compliant,” said Mr. Thomas.

“It is equally as important to know when ‘not’ to administer medicines as knowing when and in what doses they need to be given in order to reduce the risk of issues such as antimicrobial resistance (AMR) which happens when animals are routinely given treatments rather than when they actually need them.” 

Dairy farmer Ann Davies, who together with husband Gareth has a 150 cow dairy holding near Llandeilo, was one of the first farmers to attend one of Dr. Karvountzis training courses. 

“It was a pleasure to undertake online training with Sotirios, and I received very helpful advice on identifying the animal signals and signs which are often the pre-cursor to health issues. 

“As it was one-to-one, he was able to cover a lot of ground in my two-hour session, bringing me up to speed on current best practice and providing guidance on implementing preventative regimes which will help minimise the use of medicines within our dairy herd, ” said Mrs. Davies. 

Due to the Covid restrictions which have affected face-to-face training, Farming Connect, working closely with Lantra Wales and the relevant accreditation bodies, is now able to deliver a number of sector specific training courses, workshops and surgeries either over the telephone, digitally or online.  With topics ranging from animal health and ICT to business strategy and marketing, Mr. Thomas says that the flexibility and appeal of learning from home is already proving hugely popular to many individuals affected by the lockdown.  A record of all Farming Connect training completed will automatically be uploaded to an individual’s Storfa Sgiliau continuous professional development online record.  

A list of all Farming Connect webinar, workshop and surgery topics, digital or online training options and podcasts can be found here.  All Farming Connect training courses must be booked in advance, either via the website or call the Farming Connect Service Centre on 08456 000 813. Rydym yn croesawu galwadau yn Gymraeg / We welcome calls in Welsh. If subsidised rather than fully-funded, farmers should always check the actual cost of training before applying.  Farming Connect also provides a number of interactive e.learning modules on animal health topics. 

If you are unsure of how to access and use online ‘meeting places’, you can download guidance from the Farming Connect website here.  Alternatively, for any further information on training and the range of courses currently available ‘remotely’, contact your local Farming Connect development officer.

Farming Connect, which is delivered by Menter a Busnes and Lantra, has 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.

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