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RCVS Knowledge to lead major antibiotic stewardship initiative for farms

22 March 2021

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, in collaboration with a number of prominent farming organizations.

The Farm Vet Champions project, spearheaded by charity, RCVS Knowledge, aims to provide inspiration and leadership to a growing community of large animal vets – but chiefly targets those in general practice who deal with many different species of animal every day and thus may limited access to specialised techniques and advice.

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.

In the first phase of the project, which is funded by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), RCVS Knowledge have brought together representatives from major organizations including the National Farmers Union and the British Veterinary Association and its farm animal specialist divisions to create free evidence-based species-specific online learning packages under the clinical leadership of Fiona Lovatt, RCVS Recognized 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, behavior 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 recognizes our central and trusted position as providers of high-quality evidence-based veterinary medicine tools and resources to the professions. We are happy to be working closely with the key industry associations to create a valuable, practical resource that will have a tangible impact on antibiotic prescribing in the UK."

The initiative has the full support of NOAH, the National Farmers Union (NFU) the Food Industry Initiative in Antimicrobials, Innovation for Agriculture, the Association of Veterinary Surgeons Practising in Northern Ireland, the Scottish One Health Antimicrobial Use and Antimicrobial Resistance programme, Ruminant Health & Welfare and the Chief Veterinary Officers for the UK, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The team from the Arwain Vet Cymru project, a national veterinary prescribing initiative in Wales, have also provided extensive support and valuable expertise.

The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance has also welcomed this development: Farm Vet Champions are an integral part of the targets for responsible use of antibiotics in ruminants in particular, which were launched in November 2020 and are due to be delivered by 2024.

Fiona Lovatt, Farm Vet Champions Clinical Lead, said: “I am really excited to be leading this crucially important project, which has been specifically designed to inspire a community of farm vets and engage individuals at the precise points that they interact with their mixed farm clients. 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. 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.”

Click here to register your interest and receive project updates, and follow the project hashtag #FarmVetChampions.



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