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Sheep farmer opinions on the role of vets in flock health management

J. Kaler, L. E. Green

FARM animal veterinarians play a key role in the food supply chain and in improving and maintaining herd health. However, while veterinary involvement on dairy and pig farms seems to be high, recent studies have indicated low levels of involvement on UK sheep farms. This study used focus groups and qualitative methods to explore the beliefs of sheep farmers in England on the role of vets on their farms.

A total of 45 sheep farmers from across England participated in seven focus groups.

The researchers found that the majority of farmers had very little contact with their veterinarian and only used them as a ‘fire-fighter’ (that is, someone who they only contacted in a crisis). Some farmers said that they had to speak to their vet in order to obtain medicines and that was the only reason that they had contact with them more regularly than they otherwise would. There was a general consensus among the participants that most vets did not have specialised knowledge of sheep farming and so would not be a useful resource. Some farmers felt that a high turnover …

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