A recent study in the UK has revealed that sheep farmers are hesitant to seek the help of vets straight away.

Results of the study revealed that major health issues have proven to be the main reason sheep farmers seek advice from vets.

It also indicated that many farmers are hesitant to seek help too early, due to a perceived lack of expertise and a desire for self-sufficiency.

The research study was conducted by a marketing research consultancy in the UK, on the behalf of pharmaceutical company Norbrook and the XLVets community of practices.

XLVets is a community of independently-owned veterinary practices that claim to "work together to "achieve the highest standards of veterinary care".

The aim of the study was to better understand how and when sheep farmers engage with vets.

The results provide an accurate picture of how and when sheep farmers access veterinary expertise, as well as recommendations for how to improve professional relationships, Marketing Manager at Norbrook, Chris Geddes, said.

"Our initial findings show that there is a wealth of information and advice available to sheep farmers, so the vet is often not consulted.

"Added to this, some sheep farmers feel that there is a lack of specialist sheep knowledge and experience among farm vets.

"They attributed this to the high volume of dairy work in the UK, and the fact that vets are not spending time on sheep farms to the same extent as they do with cattle," he said.

Study Recommendations

The study has provided recommendations to address the issues highlighted, Geddes added.

Developing specialist sheep knowledge in the vet practice was suggested as a key engagement driver, as well as forging closer relationships to ensure successful engagement with sheep farmers.

Meanwhile, Lee-Anne Oliver, a Veterinary Surgeon at Scott Mitchell Associates believes that the results from this study are particularly useful to help veterinary practices to ensure they meet the needs of their sheep farmers.

“By listening to what our sheep farmers want from us and then working with them to develop our services, we can ensure we add value to their businesses.

“The research has provided a number of insights into how we, as veterinary surgeons, can further develop our own skills and assist our sheep farmers in more positive and proactive ways.

"Within the XLVets community, we have now developed a sheep networking group to facilitate this – 'The Woolpack' – which consists of individuals with a passion for sheep from throughout the UK.

"By advancing our knowledge and skills – and by sharing this learning and experience across the XLVets community – we are certain that many more sheep farmers can benefit from the results of this study," she said.