An option for sheep farmers wanting access to cost-effective veterinary advice is to encourage their vet to get involved in a new Flock Health Clubs initiative, which has been launched across the UK, supported by the Sheep Veterinary Society and National Sheep Association.

Fiona Lovatt is Director of Flock Health Ltd, the sheep veterinary consultancy business that has created the Flock Health Clubs model. She says: “Sheep farmers really value quality advice given by keen sheep vets, but there is often a belief that it is too costly to get their vet involved. Historically there has been quite a mismatch between the service that vets provide and what their sheep farmer clients are prepared to pay for so, 15 months ago, we set up some pilot Flock Health Clubs at practices in the north east and west of England.”

A Flock Health Club is a vet-facilitated sheep farmer discussion group that allows farmers with smaller numbers of sheep to share the cost of veterinary advice while maintaining regular, good quality contact with sheep-interested vets within a practice. The pilot programme shows this is an effective model, with vets involved so far reporting improved relationships with their sheep farmers through more regular contact, an increase in the veterinary involvement on these sheep farms, and a steady sheep income to the practice via monthly club subscriptions from the farmer members.

Will Barker of Castle Veterinary Surgeons runs one of the pilot Flock Health Clubs for sheep farmers in the Barnard Castle area in County Durham. He says: “The best thing from our Flock Health Club has been to see sheep farmers working together, comparing their basic flock data and highlighting areas for improvement.”

Dan Stevenson from LLM Farm Vets, Whitchurch, comments: “The enthusiasm of our sheep clients for a Flock Health Club was really inspiring to see. At the end of the year the members were unanimous in their wish to keep the group going.”

Vets wanting to start a club within their practice can gain the skills and inspiration to do so by attending a CPD event this summer at venues around the UK. Fiona says: “Farmers should encourage their vet to attending one of these interactive workshop-style events, which will include training in how to start up and run a Flock Health Club. They will be given opportunities to try out various resources for collecting flock performance and farm economic data for group benchmarking. The main emphasis will be on sharing practical examples and top tips.” Details can be found at