I am an AMTRA R-SQP and store manager at Beeston Animal Health in Cheshire and ‘Lead SQP’ for our sister company the Willows Vet Group, where a large proportion of my customers are dairy farmers. We also have a good percentage of beef, sheep, pig and poultry farmers, plus a large base of equine and companion animal customers.
After growing up on a family dairy farm, I attended Reaseheath College between 1993 and 1995, I’ve worked for Pye Bibby Agriculture, and started work for Beeston Animal Health and The Willows Vet Group back in January 2005. I qualified as an AMTRA R-SQP in 2006, and gained ‘Gold Standard Status’ in 2013.
My specific role relates to my AMTRA R-SQP qualification, as an animal medicines advisor.
As an R-SQP I play a vital role, alongside vets, dairy, beef and sheep farmers, in improving the health and performance of herds and flocks, and in doing so improving efficiency and cost effectiveness, ultimately meaning farmers are more profitable.
In terms of my role as an R- SQP, it is a year-round, and daily commitment to providing advice and guidance for farmers, equine and companion animal customers.
As store manager at Beeston Animal Health, I look after some 400 ovine customers, with approximately 45,000 sheep, plus also 400 dairy farms and 70,000 cows! As well as 7000 suckler cattle. We are sister company of the Willows Vet Group which covers Cheshire and neighbouring counties.
About 5 years ago now we launched our ‘sheep club’ (Willows & Beeston Sheep Club) a joint venture between the Willows Vet Group and Beeston Animal Health. We recognise that although we are in a large dairy county, there are still lots of sheep in our area, and back in 2013 they engaged a lot more with me, as an R-SQP, than they ever did with their vet. Membership offers a comprehensive flock health and performance monitoring programme, consisting of 3 x 2-hour visits with their vet and SQP.
Also included will be FEC’s through the year, written reports after each visit and a year planner of flock health treatments.
There is a different focus throughout the year. For example, with our sheep club members, at pre-tupping, we are reviewing lamb performance, providing ram MOT semen collections alongside the vet, discussing vaccinations, reviewing parasite control and Faecal Egg Count (FEC) results.
We will also be discussing nutrition and trace element profiles, and I will run through blood test results alongside the vet.
Throughout the year, I will provide similar support, particularly around pre-lambing where alongside vets I will be reviewing fluke control plans and vaccination plans, plus looking at the body condition score of ewes, and post-lambing when, as an animal medicines advisor, I will plan worm control, and look at fly strike prevention plans.
I am very active every day, and passionate to get on top of, and to stamp out sheep scab and sheep lameness. In particular, I have lots of involvement with and support of SCOPS (Sustainable Control of Parasites in Sheep).
In summary, I’m a trained and trusted guardian of the correct use of all UK licensed POM-VPS & NFA-VPS animal medicines. I, along with other AMTRA SQPs, sit alongside practising veterinary surgeons in providing a full animal health service to animal keepers.
I believe the relationship between the SQP, vet and producer has never been more crucial.
I’m very passionate about the job and dedicated to learning more so I can give the best possible advice.
In 2013 I won the OverTheCounter ‘Farm SQP of the Year’ and in 2014 I won the coveted main OverTheCounter SQP of the Year award.
In December 2018 it was an honour to be named as a finalist for the ‘Animal Health Advisor of the year award 2018’ in the prestigious food and farming industry awards, when the awards ceremony was held at the House of Commons, London.
I was selected as a finalist for my work to improve the health and productivity of my customers’ livestock and assisting the industry in driving the responsible use of anthelmintics.
On the night I was awarded runner-up. To be runner-up to ‘Vet’ Emily Gascoigne of Synergy Vets was a great honour. It is a great accolade for all AMTRA SQPs that, within this award category, we can be judged as equal to vets.