A major initiative aimed at equipping vets across the UK with the latest antibiotic stewardship principles for treating specific farm animal species is being rolled out by a leading veterinary educational charity, RCVS Knowledge, in collaboration with a number of prominent farming organisations.
The project, called Farm Vet Champions, is chiefly targeted at those in general practice who deal with many different species of animal every day and thus may limited access to specialised techniques and advice.
In the first phase of the project, which is funded by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), RCVS Knowledge have brought together representatives from major organisations including the National Farmers Union (NFU) and the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and its farm animal specialist divisions to create free evidence-based species-specific online learning packages under the clinical leadership of Fiona Lovatt, RCVS Recognised Specialist in Sheep Health and Production.
The training, which will be freely accessible to all who sign up to become a Farm Vet Champion, will cover all types of food-producing animals encountered by farm veterinary professionals as well as provide modules on communication skills, particularly with respect to farmer relationships, behaviour and compliance.
There will be no limit to the number of Farm Vet Champions within a practice, to help galvanise and improve antimicrobial prescribing stewardship. Farm Vet Champions will be able to carry their status with them if they move between practices, to strengthen capacity in this area throughout the professions.
Chris Gush, executive director of RCVS Knowledge, said: “RCVS Knowledge is proud to be delivering this resource, which is so critical for the veterinary professions, and indeed the One Health agenda. It is strongly in line with our mission to advance the quality of veterinary care for the benefit of animals, the public and society, and recognises our central and trusted position as providers of high-quality evidence-based veterinary medicine tools and resources to the professions.”
Fiona Lovatt, Farm Vet Champions clinical lead, said the project is designed to build “capacity, capability and confidence” in vets as they engage with farmers in planning ahead, preventing disease challenge and protecting animals to ensure responsible medicine use.
Ms Lovatt added: “From a wider perspective, it is consolidating and strengthening collaboration across veterinary and livestock agricultural organisations as well as with processors and retailers in the fulfilment of this hugely important common goal.”
The project will also support One Health efforts to manage the emergence of antimicrobial resistance, and is a key initiative within the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) targets set to be delivered by the UK cattle and sheep sectors by 2024.