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SVS Autumn Conference

The Autumn Sheep Veterinary Society conference was held last week (Sept 12th-14th) at the Abbey Hotel, Malvern, Worcestershire.  This proved a very successful venue for a thought-provoking meeting concentrating on practical issues such as lameness, parasite control and further education – for vets and farmers! 

Local and current sheep concerns, including conservation grazing on the Malvern Hills, were discussed by local practitioner Anne Gibbs who also gave us a very entertaining insight into the history of the Three Counties Show.  We also had an opportunity to see the surrounding area with a farm visit to a champion fat lamb producer who surprised us by explaining that his biggest disease problem is mastitis – not usually considered to be in the top five sheep problems.

An absence of major exotic disease epidemics in the last three years together with buoyant market prices has stimulated an increased interest in sheep health and productivity and there is now an even great opportunity for vets to become involved in farm health plans in particular.  This point was emphasised by the guest speaker, Peter Baber who, as well as being a recent chairman of the National Sheep Association, appropriately based in Malvern, has also chaired the SCOPS project and the Sheep and Goat Welfare Group.  Peter believes that more vets should become specialists in sheep production and be prepared to participate in whole farm advisory work.  He also conceded that many farmers needed to appreciate the added value vets can provide for their business through a greater understanding of their own financial situation. 

The CPD morning was given by Phil Scott (RDVC), concentrating on various aspects of how the Internet can be of benefit for sheep vets, both in providing material for updating themselves and farmers but as a major opportunity for formal further education via webinars.  The Society now plans to take these ideas forward in the coming months.

The first major disease session was on internal parasites led by Mike Taylor, a world recognised expert in this field, and supported by David Bartram who led us through the concept of ‘added efficacy’ by using combination products, as already available in many other countries, in the face of – and to retard the development of - anthelmintic resistance.

The Tuesday education and debate session on footrot in sheep, led by Agnes Winter, featured research findings by Laura Green and Rose Grogono-Thomas that challenged several previously held views on this topic and concentrated in coming up with ‘best practice’ advice for practitioners.

The Society’s recent initiative, aimed at encouraging recent graduates to develop their interest in sheep work, was rewarded by a very good attendance, particularly of the younger end of the profession.  The concept of the regional ‘Talking Sheep‘ meetings was continued with a whole session devoted to short papers on: Inherited nephrosis in Zwartbles; CCN; Cobalt deficiency; CLA control in the Shetlands; Welfare Indicators; and Orf.  However the presence of many, more senior, colleagues, including 10 Past Presidents of the Society, helped to ensure a broad spectrum of points of view were available to be shared during the conference sessions and in the late night informal sessions that ‘the friendly society’ is noted for.  The presence of several overseas delegates, even from as far afield as the Falkland Islands also helped to provide a different perspective to some accepted problems and in particular the lameness debate was stimulated by a paper on footrot eradication in Denmark given by Inga Stamphoj who had also done a tremendous job organising the Society’s spring conference in her country.

The gala dinner including the ceremonial transfer of the Presidential medal to Ian Davies of AHVLA Shrewsbury by outgoing President Matt Colston after he had presented awards to Kath Dunn and Rose Grogono-Thomas for services to the society as secretary and Treasurer respectively and Dick Thompson and Fiona Lovatt for their promotion of the ‘Talking Sheep’ series over the last two years. Sam Mansley was also given a well-earned honorary membership for his valued contributions over the years, particularly his work in the epidemiology of FMD.  In addition, the Eitan-Rapport award for best overseas speaker will be awarded to Inga Stamphoj.

Sheep Veterinary Society members can therefore look forward with renewed confidence and enthusiasm to an increasing role in farm practice, hopefully spurred on by the content and enthusiasm expressed at the Malvern conference.  We next meet again in Harrogate in May (21st – 23rd) before preparing for the 10th International Sheep Veterinary Association Conference in Rotorua, New Zealand – more details from

Dick Thompson BVSc CertSHP MRCVS

Our Aim

“To promote the prevention
of disease and the welfare of
sheep by providing a forum
for discussion, distribution of
research results and provision
of advice on veterinary
matters relating to sheep”

Contact the Society

Sheep Veterinary Society,
SVS Secretariat,
Moredun Research Institute,
Pentlands Science Park,
Bush Loan, Penicuik,
Midlothian, EH26 0PZ

Tel: +44 131 445 5111
Fax: +44 131 445 6235

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