A checklist-based audit tool has been launched to help vets engage more proactively with sheep farmers.
MSD Animal Health hopes the tool will enable farm vets to forge closer links with sheep farmers by enabling them to develop action plans that help shepherds address key areas of flock health and productivity.
The Flock Health Checklist has been developed in conjunction with veterinary practitioners Giselle Brown (Galloway Veterinary Group, Kirkcudbright), JP Crilly (Larkmead Veterinary Group, Oxfordshire), John Hemingway (Shropshire Farm Vets), Jonathan Hobbs (North Park Veterinary Group, Devon) and Claire Jones (Dolgellau Vets, North Wales).
Kat Baxter-Smith, veterinary advisor with MSD Animal Health, said: “We have developed this new performance checklist drawing on specialist sheep vet working experiences, clinical research studies, economic data and industry recommendations.
“For example, the pre-breeding period is a great time to make sure ewes and rams are as fit and healthy as possible. Good practice and preparation in this area will go a long way to minimizing stress and problems during a busy lambing period. ”
She said it could also help with protocols for the late pregnancy and lambing period, and had questions for the growth, weaning and sale period.
The checklist also has a series of questions on disease management and biosecurity, and how flock performance is currently monitored.
Dr Baxter-Smith added: “Working through a series of 10 questions within each of the three crucial time periods and two key management processes – designed to tease out where a sheep unit is in terms of accepted best management practice – allows vet and farmer to quickly pinpoint any areas needing attention.
“What’s more, repeating the checklist every 6 or 12 months is a great way to keep things on track, allowing both parties to monitor performance against agreed targets.
“Similar types of checklist have been available to dairy youngstock rearing units and beef suckler herds for a couple of years now, with several vets reporting that these tools have proved integral to their productivity improvement work with farmer clients.
“Use of this checklist-based approach is also helping better implementation of preventive health practices such as vaccination. We hope this latest tool will help the GB sheep industry similarly. ”
Further details are available from MSD account managers.