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A Veterinary Approach to Sustainable Food and Farming - Participant Feedback, Tom Warboys

Alice Geddes, Executive Officer VetSalus

A Veterinary Approach to Sustainable Food and Farming, the inaugural course from VetSalus in partnership with Vet Sustain, was officially launched in July 2022. The course has been designed to empower veterinary professionals working with farm animals to unlock their unique toolbox of skills and knowledge to help producers attain multiple sustainability objectives, for the benefit of animals under our care, rural communities, wildlife and the wider environment.

With our first cohort approaching the end of the course, and cohort 2 in progress, we now have over 50 participants actively engaged with the course content. VetSalus spoke with some current participants to understand how they found their learning experience, and what impact this has had on their approach to sustainability conversations with their clients.

Tom Warboys, livestock vet at Synergy Farm Health in the South West of England, has a special interest in youngstock and preventative health planning, particularly in suckler herds.

Tom first heard about the course through his employers, however has since had it mentioned to him several times by veterinary professionals at other practices. We asked Tom what his learning objectives were for taking the course:

“Interest in sustainability and awareness of how important it will be for future-proofing the industry (both in real terms and for good publicity); however I didn’t know enough about the topic to bring it up with farmers with confidence or to discuss with the public. Also wanted to know more about the more sustainable options for farmers and how practical/cost effective they are.”

The course is hosted through an online learning platform with images, videos and other interactive elements interspersed throughout the text. Each module has a module champion who guides the participants through the content with quotes and comments through the text. There are also quizzes, tasks and deep dives allowing participants the opportunity to explore areas of interest.

“The format worked really well, information [was] very accessible and the deep dives were a really good way of managing core content vs. opportunity to investigate areas further.”

Within the course we discuss our spheres of influence as veterinary professionals and our ability to influence change. We asked Tom if he felt the course had improved his understanding of and ability to practice sustainably:

“Yes absolutely! The two main aspects would be my behaviour as part of a business (improved recycling, awareness of miles travelled, minimising waste etc.) and my even more important role as a farm advisor: I now tackle issues such as worming, antibiotic use, endemic disease and vaccination, animal housing and nutrition from an environmental angle rather than just economics. I also found additional motivation for tackling some welfare issues such as endemic disease (particularly things like mastitis or lameness) as the bigger picture is much clearer.”

Lastly, we asked Tom how he would rate the course and what impact he felt it could have on the veterinary community:

“10/10, thought it was an excellent course and it has the potential to motivate and inform practitioners in a big way.”

Thank you to Tom for taking the time to discuss his course experience. To find out more about the course itself, please visit our website. You can also check out the BCVA Cattle Cast (episode 29), where Kat Hart talks in more detail with course facilitators David Black and Lisa Morgans, along with participant Tom Warboys and VetSalus Executive Officer, Megan Williamson.

Our next cohort will shortly be opening for registration, in order to receive the latest updates on the course please join our waiting list.