Synergy are on the moove!

We are very excited to inform all of our clients that Synergy is moving… but not far!!!

Synergy has been based at Evershot since it was founded in 2009 and the buildings have served us well. However, as the business has developed we feel we need an updated location for our staff to work from. From the beginning of July we will be moving just under 3 miles up the road, to the old BBC transmitting station on Rampisham Downs. After many years lying dormant, the building has been purchased by a local developer and we will be taking up residency in one part of the building. We hope that this will give us enhanced facilities for our staff as well as for any clients that need to visit the practice for training and meetings. We have been fortunate to have been involved in the design of the new development so we hope we will have a fitting building to see us through the next 10 to 20 years of Synergy’s journey!

We hope there will be as little disruption as possible during the move, all contact numbers for the business will remain the same. We very much hope we might get the opportunity to have an open evening later in the Autumn to show clients around the new premises.

Bumper Newsletter Summer 2022

Our quarterly bumper newsletter, including Dairy, Beef, Sheep and Dispensary News.
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Spring Calving and Lambing Reflection

As I write this, we are in the midst of a busy few weeks of Spring lambing and calving. It’s been great to get on farm and see some immaculate calving pens, highly organised lambing sheds and keenly motivated teams. Hopefully things have mostly gone well, but there have been some challenges and difficulties and I am sure everyone can think of at least one area for improvement next year. As lambs are turned out to grass and calf growth rates start to fly, it is important to also reflect on the neonatal period while it is fresh in your mind. What did you do really well this year? What would you change? How many lambs or calves were expected, and how many were actually born alive? How many losses were there in the first 24 hours, or the first 3 weeks?

In the UK an average of 10% of lambs and 7% of calves don’t survive beyond 3 weeks. With narrow margins for profitability in beef and sheep, making small changes to improve neonatal survival can have huge economic benefits, as well improving animal welfare, not to mention increasing job satisfaction!

Any data you can record on the computer, or jot down, will help your vet to advise you when we come out to do your health plan review. Most of you will be familiar with the data collection forms we now ask you to complete prior to your health plan visit. How many calves were turned out to grass? How many lambs were there at the time of the first drench, or the 8 week-weighing session? What youngstock treatments were given and why? This sort of information can help us to know what areas are best to target for improvement. We can look at trends on your farm over the years and compare with similar herds and flocks at Synergy (anonymously of course) and your own specific targets.

Keeping good records also helps when it comes to selecting females for breeding – ewes or cows that have suffered vaginal prolapses should not be bred again; and avoid keeping replacements from females that required assistance at birth or failed to rear their young. Ease of calving/lambing, and litter size, are highly heritable traits that have a huge impact on survival. Likewise, rams and bulls should be selected to minimise dystocia and improve neonatal survival – estimated breeding values (EBVs) are invaluable for this. Next year’s success starts with appropriate breeding decisions this year.

Other important measures we can take throughout the production cycle to increase neonatal survival include vaccinations (particularly BVD, IBR and leptospirosis in cattle; toxoplasmosis and Enzootic abortion in sheep); liver fluke control; and ensuring optimum nutrition and body condition of breeding females throughout the year.

Synergy Farm Health was recently involved in a project with AHDB and University of Edinburgh to develop a Target Survival Plan for beef and sheep. The plan aims to help structure conversations around neonatal survival and identify key critical control points. Get in touch with any Team Beef or Team Sheep vet for more information, to share the data you have collated and to book your next health plan review.

Bella Lowis – Synergy Farm Health, Veterinary Surgeon

 

May Newsletter 2022

Our May Newsletter; including seasonal articles by our vets and vet techs, news from your area, medicines updates and more.
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Reduce stress when TB Testing

Six month testing is in full swing and each test seems to come around so quickly. TB testing can be stressful for both the cattle, and everyone involved. You don’t have to have new high tech handling systems for the test to run smoothly and safely. I have not yet seen a perfect handling system for TB testing (I don’t think it exists) but you can make small changes to ensure that the handling system is fit for purpose:
All hands-on deck; having enough help for TB testing helps keep the cattle flowing
Understanding and working with natural behaviours can help during handling. A good example of this is the Bud Box which is based on the cattle’s desire to return the way they have come from. As you can see from the diagram, as the cattle turn to return from where it has come, the exit is up the race, remember size matters

Where possible, use solid barriers rather than gates help the cattle to move through the race more smoothly (this can be more difficult with mobile set ups)
Make sure the race and holding pen is high enough, ideally around 1.6m to avoid cattle trying to jump out
Cows hate slipping and sliding. By ensuring the race is clean, scraped/washed down regularly during the test, reduces the risk of the cattle slipping. Putting sand down can also help the cattle under foot. Taking a few minutes to do this really helps, it also helps everyone stay a little cleaner which is a bonus.
We all know that sometimes you can have the best system in the world and the cattle can still be wild and stressed. Therefore a good, well-maintained, crush with a yoke helps keep everyone involved safe and usually gets the job done.
Implementing small changes will hopefully lead to a less stressful day for the cows, handlers and a happy TB tester.

Charlotte Pasrons – Synergy Farm Health, Approved Tuberculin Tester (ATT)

 

Bovine TB – roll out of the PCR test (yes the same style test used to test humans for Covid!)

We have had long-awaited news from APHA that they will begin their rollout of using the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, in place of standard culture when confirming a TB diagnosis from lesions at slaughter. This should be a step forward in reducing the time taken for a decision to be made on any further disease restrictions.

What is a PCR test?
Each M. bovis bacterium contains unique DNA. PCR is a laboratory test which identifies tiny amounts of DNA present within M. bovis bacteria and amplifies it (by making millions of copies of the specific DNA sequence) to produce a quantity which is then detectable.

How will the new test be used by APHA?
From 30 March the PCR test will be used for tissue samples from carcases of:

  • TB slaughterhouse cases in cattle and non-bovines i.e. animals routinely sent for private slaughter with suspicious lesions of TB identified
  • Non-bovine animals such as camelids, goats, pigs, sheep and farmed deer that are removed as TB test reactors, direct contacts or clinical TB suspects
  • Domestic pets (cats and dogs) and exotic species of animals (e.g. in zoos) submitted to APHA for laboratory investigation

How does the accuracy of the PCR test compare with microbiological culture?
In the test validation study, the M. bovis PCR test produced equivalent results to the traditional microbiological culture method.
How will the PCR test improve the management of TB incidents?
When a bovine slaughterhouse case is identified, the herd of origin’s officially TB free status is suspended pending the final test results from the laboratory. Animals can only move on or off the affected holding under a licence issued by APHA. Currently, tissue samples taken from the carcase are submitted for microbiological culture – that process can take up to 22 weeks to complete and during that time the herd remains under movement restrictions.
Rather than relying on culture results PCR testing will be used. The process will be much quicker – with test results typically available within three weeks.
If the test results are negative restrictions on the herd will be lifted thus limiting the negative impact of movement restrictions.
In most cases it will also eliminate the need for a check test – currently herd check tests (using the skin test) may be carried out pending the receipt of culture results.

The new PCR test will also allow rapid detection of M. bovis in tissue samples from carcases of non-bovine animals, to confirm or negate infection in TB test positive animals, suspected cases of TB identified at post-mortem examination in the laboratory, or during routine post-mortem meat inspection in the slaughterhouse.

Are there any limitations of the M. bovis PCR test?
Whole genome sequencing is not possible by this method, so further culture would be required if APHA wish to obtain useful information on the particular strain of TB, in order to help unravel the epidemiology of a breakdown.
Further information about the M. bovis PCR test is available on the TB Hub site:
https://tbhub.co.uk/tb-testing-cattle/pcr-test-for-detection-of-m-bovis-in-post-mortem-tissue-samples/

Paula Hunt – Synergy Farm Health, Tb Testing Veterinary Surgeon BVSc MRCVS

 

How are you? Spotlight on Mental Wellbeing

“Hi, how are you?”
“I’m ok”
How often do we start conversations like this every day? How often do you say you’re ok, when actually you’re a bit tired, a bit stressed, a bit lonely? How often do you think other people say they’re ok when actually they might be feeling some of those other feelings?
A popular tip from mental health professionals is to ask twice and was the topic of the recent ‘Mind Your Head Campaign’ from the farm safety group, Yellow Wellies. Stopping to ask ‘how are you, really?’ is an easy, but effective tool to encourage someone to answer more honestly.
We’re all very good at attending to our physical health, but although we’re getting better at it, we still find it hard to be quite so open about our mental wellbeing.
Farming notoriously presents people with many situations to challenge their mental health; relentless working hours, lone-working, financial burdens, multiple stressors such as audits, TB and isolation. Therefore it is hardly surprising that research conducted by Yellow Wellies found that four out of five young farmers (under 40) believe mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today. These young farmers thoughts were proved to be correct when 36% of the 15,000 respondents to the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Intuition’s ‘Big Farming Survey’ at the beginning of 2021 described themselves as ‘probably’ or ‘possibly’ depressed.
If you feel your mental wellbeing is suffering, the most powerful thing you can do, is talk. Share your feelings with someone you trust be that your GP, someone on the end of a helpline, a friend or family member. You don’t have to have a clinical mental illness to reap the benefits that sharing your feelings openly can bring – we all need to get better at starting and having these conversations.
Helplines:
The Samaritans – 116 123
The Farming Community Network – 03000 111 999

Esme Moffett – Synergy Farm Health, Veterinary Surgeon BVMS DBR MRCVS

 

April Newsletter 2022

Our April Newsletter; including seasonal articles by our vets and vet techs, news from your area, medicines updates and more.
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The Medicine Hub is here – an update for beef and sheep farms

UK farming has been a world leader in reducing antibiotic use – yet we have struggled to prove this progress in our ruminant sectors. Now we have the Medicine Hub for beef, sheep and dairy.

While we know from our own records at Synergy that our beef cattle and sheep clients are generally low users of antibiotics, the country as a whole does not have access to the kind of medicine review we carry out routinely as a vet practice. It may seem hard to believe, but there is no national collation of antibiotic use across the beef or sheep sectors. We really need this to justify our claim of responsible use to the wider industry, consumers and other countries – including those in the EU which we may wish to export to in the future. Equally, it would be really interesting for us to benchmark our figures against a national dataset as part of the drive to improve productivity and reduce losses.

This is about to change with the new Medicine Hub. Developed by AHDB in partnership with industry, this facility makes it possible to capture and collate antibiotic data in a variety of ways, from every single cattle and sheep farm.

In the beef and sheep sectors, farm vets are going to be pivotal to this effort. We could become the main mechanism for transferring prescription datasets to the Hub, if you give us permission to do so. It is also possible to use the Medicine Hub as an electronic medicine book if you prefer.

Over the coming months, there is going to be a big push to raise awareness of the Medicine Hub across the whole industry, in preparation for significant efforts to migrate data onto it. We are really hoping 2022 will be the year Synergy clients register for the Medicine Hub and allow us to upload data, anonymously, on your behalf.

What is the Medicine Hub?
Put simply, the Medicine Hub is a database that can store and collate antibiotic usage data for cattle and sheep. The platform facilitates users and any authorised third parties (such as a vet or processor) to view, enter and submit data. Importantly, there is no charge associated with the Medicine Hub for contributors.

The Medicine Hub began accepting contributions in its pilot phase last year and is now available for all farmers to register and upload medicine use. You can do this yourselves or give third party permission to Synergy to enter your sales data on your behalf.

Why is the Medicine Hub important?
Within the UK Government’s plans to tackle antimicrobial resistance, is a commitment to work with vets and farmers, to continue reducing inappropriate and unnecessary antibiotic use. RUMA’s Targets Task Force has also identified that the ruminant sectors lag behind more integrated sectors in centralised data capture – meaning they cannot report national data or progress, and risk falling behind incoming EU legislation to report national usage data in cattle and sheep. Centralised data capture will help the industry to protect its reputation and contribute to the promotion of its produce. We know that we are the 5th lowest user of antibiotics in food-producing animals in Europe; now we need to prove the ruminant sector’s figure.

The benefit for industry is this will support trade both in the UK and overseas – from a veterinary perspective it will help protect our ability to access vital medicines. Demonstrating our commitment to the appropriate use of veterinary medicines with an effective measurement system is in all our interests.

How is the Medicine Hub used and who can use it?
The Medicine Hub is available through www.medicinehub.org.uk or the AHDB website. Any cattle or sheep holding can register, enter data and see reports. As your veterinary practice, if you have given us permission to view, enter or submit data within the Medicine Hub on your behalf, we will receive an email notifying us of what level of permission we have been granted.

About the data
Producers have control of their own farm data and who has permission to see it. At a national level all data entered into the hub will contribute to reporting of antibiotic use across the relevant sectors on an anonymised, aggregated basis. It is important to understand that data will not contain personal details regarding the user and is intended to be used solely to assist stakeholder organisations such as the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) in their reporting obligations.

What is recorded and how accurate will the data be?
Farm level antibiotic use is calculated using metrics recommended by The Cattle Health & Welfare Group and the Sheep Antibiotic Guardian Group. These metrics are based on the total amount of antibiotic active ingredient used, related to the estimated weight of livestock on the farm. For beef farms the population data can be quite complex to enter, so it is best to set up a CTS link which will do this automatically.

What should I do now?
Talk to us about the Medicine Hub if you need more information.
Register an account and set up separate enterprises for beef, sheep or dairy on www.medicinehub.org.uk
Make sure you specify which enterprise you are ordering medicines for when you contact dispensary.
If you own cattle, set up a CTS link which will provide accurate animal population data (this is important).
Set 3rd party permissions for Synergy Farm Health, to allow us to access and enter data on your behalf.
We will sort the rest!

Find Out More
You can find out more on the AHDB website www.ahdb.org.uk/medicine-hub
If you have any questions, please contact us or the Medicine Hub directly via email: hub@ahdb.org.uk.

Rachel Hayton – Synergy Farm Health, Veterinary Surgeon BSc (Vet Sci) BVM&S Cert CHP MRCVS
Advanced Practitioner in Cattle Health and Production

 

Suckler Calf Mortality – time to investigate?

A study looking in to the risk factors associated with beef calf mortality found the following:-

  • Dystocia (difficult birth), small birth weight and older parity of the mother increased the risk of mortality in calves <1 month old.
  • In calves 1 – 5 months old, being the offspring of a heifer was associated with significantly higher risk of death compared with calves from third or higher-parity cows.
  • The most commonly reported reasons for beef calf mortality were diarrhoea and pneumonia.

So what can we learn from this?

  • Age does matter – keep a young(ish) herd to improve calf survival rates – aim to gradually cull out older problem (>9 years old) cows – this is easier if they don’t go back to the bull after calving!
  • Nutrition is so important – ensuring cows are in optimal body condition at calving, and that their energy and protein needs are being met will help to optimise birth weights, reduce the risk of problems around calving time and ensure colostrum and milk supply is optimal.
  • Pay special attention to heifers – get the ration, heifer and bull selection right, to minimise risk of difficult calvings and problems associated with poor quality colostrum.
  • Colostrum is gold – talk to your vet about how to ensure all calves are receiving the very best protection nature can provide.

What are the major calf diseases that affect beef suckler calves?

Pneumonia
Cattle with lung damage are on average 21kg lighter than their healthy counterparts. Even low levels of lung damage can result in poorer carcass quality.
In a recent nationwide online questionnaire looking into farmers’ perception of calf disease and mortality*, 57% of beef suckler farmers said they had experienced pneumonia in young calves (most commonly at 10 days – 6 weeks old) within the last 12 months, with 35% experiencing deaths as a result. Only 27% of beef farmers however had the cause of pneumonia diagnosed on their farm.
Calf pneumonia can be caused by a number of different bacteria and viruses, for many of which there are excellent vaccines available. Identifying the cause is the first step to instigating an appropriate control plan.

Diarrhoea
The cost of diarrhoea is seen in reduced growth rates, calf mortality and treatment costs, with studies also showing that cattle which suffer from diarrhoea have increased susceptibility to other disease.
In the same online questionnaire*, 72% of beef farmers surveyed reported they had experienced diarrhoea in calves, with 32% experiencing calf mortality due to diarrhoea. Only 41% of farmers used any form of diagnostics to identify the cause of the diarrhoea.
Dam vaccination against diarrhoea-causing organisms is a recognised method of boosting colostrum quality and helps to protect calves against infectious causes of diarrhoea. Grouping of cows and calves according to calf age can be very effective in preventing some causes of diarrhoea in calves. But only by knowing the cause of the problem can appropriate control measures be put in place.

The importance of colostrum
Adequate provision of high-quality colostrum is widely considered as one of the most important calf-rearing practices with well-documented impact on health and performance. However previous studies have shown a high proportion of beef calves do not receive adequate passive transfer of protective antibodies via colostrum. Have your calves all had 6 litres of high-quality colostrum within the first 12 hours? Can you be sure?

Top tips for this calving season….

  • Don’t accept any level of calf loss or disease as normal – every calf death or disease outbreak is taking a chunk out of your bottom line…
  • Record all losses – only by monitoring and measuring, can we identify if there is a problem
  • Investigate early – call your vet to discuss any calf deaths or disease issues during the calving period – don’t leave it until it’s all over – early intervention may stop problems escalating. Sampling prior to treatment and/or carrying out post-mortem examinations are the best way to investigate a problem
  • Think about prevention ahead of time – optimise cow nutrition, ensure good calving hygiene, anticipate potential problems, look at vaccinations, look at herd genetics and your selection traits when choosing replacements…
  • Think COLOSTRUM, COLOSTRUM, COLOSTRUM!

Most of all …BE PROACTIVE!

Louise Silk – Synergy Farm Health, Veterinary Surgeon MA VetMB MRCVS

 

Nim Panesar

Nim Panesar BVetMed MRCVS

Nim graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2018 and spent three years working in predominantly dairy practice on the North Devon/Cornwall border. She has recently relocated to the Salisbury area to join Synergy’s expanding East team, and also to be closer to family in Berkshire. Her main clinical interest is fertility work and working to improve herd reproductive performance. She also enjoys surgical cases.  Nim is currently working towards the CertAVP in Cattle Health.

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Imogen Rogers BVetMed PGDip MRCVS

Imogen graduated in 2019, and then completed the well established RVC/Synergy Farm Health internship. Imogen has a particular interest in sheep medicine, smallholder education and youngstock.

Louise Silk

Louise Silk MA VetMB MRCVS

Louise graduated in 2007 and has spent her whole career working in farm animal practice in Dorset and Wiltshire. Louise has a particular interest in flock health and suckler herd production. Louise enjoys delivering farmer training as well as facilitating discussion group meetings, particularly for the suckler herds of Salisbury plain.

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Graeme McPherson BVSc DBR MRCVS

Graeme graduated in 1994 and worked in his native Australia before moving to the UK as a farm animal vet, first in Oxfordshire and now at Synergy Farm Health. Graeme is a qualified AHDB mastitis control plan deliverer and completed his Diploma in Bovine Reproduction in 2020. Graeme has varied clinical interests relating to dairy herd health and productivity, as well as considerable experience in camelid medicine.  Graeme is the North Regional Lead vet and a shareholder in the practice. 

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Rachel Hayton BSc (Vet Sci) BVM&S Cert CHP MRCVS

Advanced Practitioner in Cattle Health and Production

Rachel graduated in 1993 and obtained her Certificate in Cattle Health and Production in 1998.  Rachel joined Southfield Veterinary Centre in 1995 which became Synergy Farm Health in 2009.   Rachel focuses on performing routine fertility visits for dairy clients, looking after all aspects of herd health.  Rachel is also one of Synergy’s lead mastitis vets, enjoying carrying out mastitis investigations into challenging situations on farm.  She is a trained AHDB Mastitis Control Plan deliverer.  Rachel became a shareholder in the practice in 2018.

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Alastair Hayton BVMS DCHP MRCVS

RCVS Recognised Specialist in Cattle Health and Production

Director

Alastair qualified in 1993 and has worked in farm animal practice in the south west throughout his career.  Alastair gained the RCVS Diploma in Cattle Health and Production in 2003 and became an RCVS specialist in 2011. He is a member of the Nottingham University Dairy Herd Health Group and in 2015 was voted Farmers Weekly Farm Advisor of the Year.  Alastair’s areas of particular interest include nutrition, mastitis, camelid medicine and organic dairy production. Alastair performs a large amount of consultancy work throughout the veterinary and food production sectors, including expert witness legal work.  Alastair is the veterinary consultant to one of the UK’s largest supermarket milk pools. 
Alastair is heavily involved in the research and development of the novel Enferplex bTB test through Surefarm Ltd.

Charlotte Debbaut

Charlotte Debbaut DVM MRCVS

Charlotte qualified in 2012 in her native Belgium and has spent most of her career working in various farm animal practices across the UK. Charlotte joined Synergy Farm Health in 2020. She is especially interested in dairy cow medicine, including youngstock health and productivity. Charlotte is also a CowSignals Master trainer.

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Tom Angel BVetMed MRCVS

Tom graduated in 2019 and joined Synergy full time after completing the well established RVC/Synergy Farm Health internship.  Tom is interested in all aspects of farm animal practice, in particular dairy herd preventative medicine, and also enjoys surgical cases.

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Ed Powell-Jackson MA VetMB MRCVS

Ed qualified in 2006 and has spent his whole career working in farm animal practice at Synergy Farm Health, and prior to that at Kingfisher Veterinary Practice. Ed is interested in all aspects of bovine health, in particular infectious disease control and robotic dairy units, and provides veterinary care to some of the highest performing robotic dairy herds in the UK.  Ed runs Synergy’s discussion group for dairy farmers on the Blackdown Hills and is also a qualified AHDB mastitis control plan deliverer.  Ed became a shareholder in the practice in 2013.  In addition to his clinical work Ed has various other senior roles at Synergy, including spending a number of years as west regional lead, whilst now having responsibilities in finance and leading the marketing of the practice.

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Tom Shardlow BVSc MRCVS

Tom graduated in 2007 and has spent the majority of his career working in farm animal practice in Dorset. Tom is particularly interested in youngstock health and improving dairy heifer performance, and as the leader of our Youngstock team advises farmers on building design, preventive healthcare and nutrition across the practice. Tom is also the veterinary lead for our East region and became a shareholder in the practice in 2018.

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Esme Moffett BVMS DBR MRCVS

Esme qualified in 2009 and has worked in farm animal practice throughout her career, both in the UK and in New Zealand.  Esme has particular interests in bovine fertility and completed the prestigious Diploma in Bovine Reproduction in 2020.  She is also interested in dairy youngstock and calf rearing and delivers consultancy in this area to a number of clients.  Esme became a shareholder in the practice in 2019.

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Alasdair Moffett BVMS MSc MRCVS

Alasdair qualified in 2008 and has worked in farm animal veterinary practices within the UK, and in New Zealand. He recently completed a diploma in International Animal Health, where he focused on disease costing and modeling (particularly bovine TB) and a ‘One Health’ approach to antimicrobial resistance. Alasdair is particularly motivated by striving to improve efficiency in the medium sized family dairy enterprises of the practice. Alasdair became a shareholder in the practice in 2019.

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Gareth Foden BVetMed Cert AVP MRCVS

Gareth qualified in 2011 and is interested in a wide range of farm animal veterinary work particularly cattle lameness, fertility and surgery, and likes the practical approach to health planning on farm. Gareth is a key member of the Cattle Lameness Academy team and continues to develop a specialism in this area.  Gareth is the West region lead vet and became a shareholder in the practice in 2019.

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Clare Eames BVSc MRCVS

Clare qualified in 2001 and has had a varied career working in farm animal practice, as a consultant for ADAS and as a technical vet for Pfizer Animal Health.  Clare is particularly interested in beef and small ruminants and enjoys teaching the beef module of the RVC student rotation.

Keith Cutler

Keith Cutler BSc BVSc DipECBHM MRCVS

RCVS Recognised Specialist in Cattle Health and Production

Keith graduated in 1990 and joined Synergy Farm Health in 2020, having worked in the Salisbury area for over 25 years running the farm animal division of Endell Veterinary Group. Keith has varied clinical interests which include both dairy and suckler herd management, fertility, lameness and infectious disease control in cattle. Keith is a Diplomate of the European College of Bovine Health Management and a Director of CHeCS (Cattle Health Certification Standards) who oversee all licensed cattle health schemes in the UK.

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Tom Cook BVSc MRCVS

Tom qualified in 2011 and has spent his whole career working in farm animal practice in Somerset. He is the son of one of Synergy’s clients near Taunton and consequently has a deep understanding of both dairy farming and the wider agricultural industry.  Tom is interested in all areas of livestock productivity and herd health.

Mike Kerby

Mike Kerby BVSc CertAVP DBR MRCVS

Advanced Practitioner in Bovine Reproduction

Mike qualified from Bristol in 1985 and has been in farm animal practice in the south west ever since. Mike was a partner at Delaware Veterinary Group in Castle Cary for 16 years before joining Synergy Farm Health in 2020. Mike is an honorary lecturer at Liverpool University and sits on the advisory board at Surrey University Vet School. He holds the prestigious Diploma in Bovine Reproduction from Liverpool University and has extensive experience of dairy herd health. He also has a particular enthusiasm for bovine surgery and developing the next generation of cattle vets.

Martijn 't Hoen

Martijn’t Hoen DVM CertAVP MRCVS

Martijn qualified in 2008. His entire career has been focused on farm animals, working in practices in his native Holland before moving to the UK in 2011. Martijn joined Synergy in 2020. Martijn is experienced in all aspect of cattle and camelid veterinary work, including bull fertility examinations and delivering AI training for farmers. He is also a CowSignals Master trainer.

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Pete Siviter BVetMed MRCVS

Pete qualified in 2013 and has been based in Dorset with Synergy Farm Health ever since.  Pete has particular enthusiasm for on-farm discussions about herd health and preventative medicine, as well as enjoying emergency “fire brigade” work.  Pete also has an interest in small holdings and pigs, both domestic and commercial. 

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Tom Warboys BVetMed PGDipVCP MRCVS

Tom graduated in 2017 and joined Synergy full time after completing the RVC/Synergy Farm Health internship. His particular interests include youngstock and preventative health planning, particularly in suckler herds. Tom is the editor of our beef newsletter.

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Pete O’Malley MA VetMB PGCertVetEd FHEA MRCVS

Pete has worked in farm animal practice in the south west since 2012, providing services to a large range of clients across the Somerset region during that time. Pete’s interests lie in optimising animal health and productivity in dairy herds through data driven decision making and training. His passion for education includes that of clients and students alike.

He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and is now studying for his Post Graduate Diploma in Veterinary Education and certificate in advanced veterinary practice. Pete leads a clinical teaching rotation at Synergy for Royal Veterinary College students and is a shareholder of the business.

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Charlotte Mouland BVSc PGDipVCP MRCVS

Charlotte graduated in 2015 and spent six months working as a dairy vet in New Zealand, enjoying the challenges of seasonal calving work. Charlotte joined Synergy in 2016. Charlotte’s particular interests include a growing specialism in sheep work, providing high level health planning to a growing number of sheep flocks, as well as routine fertility work and preventative medicine in dairy herds.

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Jon Reader BVSc DCHP FRCVS

RCVS Recognised Specialist in Cattle Health and Production

Managing Director

Jon Reader qualified in 1997 and has been a farm animal vet in Somerset ever since. In 2010 Jon gained the RCVS Diploma in Cattle Health and Production and in 2013 was runner up as Farmers Weekly Farm Advisor of the Year. Jon is a member of the Nottingham Dairy Herd Health Group as well as being a member of the UK Dairy Cattle Mobility Steering Group. Jon was awarded the prestigious RCVS Fellowship in 2020 for his meritorious contributions to clinical practice. Jon has a particular interest in foot trimming, working with para professionals and using technology to assist in the recording and analysis of mobility and lameness records.

Jon is our Managing Director, and part of the senior management team.  He has specific responsibility for the financial management of the business.

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Jo Masters Cert Ed RVN Operations Director

After a varied career in veterinary nursing, teaching, examining and practice management Jo joined Synergy Farm Health in 2012 when the farm animal service of Langport Veterinary Centre also transferred. Jo’s extensive experience of all sectors of veterinary practice, coupled with her farming background enables her to head our operational logistics working with our teams of clinicians and support staff to organise and implement resources, facilities, and protocols. Working with the Operations Manager Jo is responsible for staff employment and HR management as well as overseeing our teams of staff both in and out of the practice. Working with the Operational team Jo implements plans, projects and new initiatives as well as being responsible for elements of practice representation and client liaison.  Jo describes her role as ‘herding cats’ and is proud to be the first female Director of Synergy Farm Health.

Andrew Davies

Andrew Davies BVetMed CertCHP FRCVS

Senior Director

Andrew is Senior Director of Synergy Farm Health having been Managing Director since inception in 2009 until November 2021.

His responsibilities include exploring opportunities for Business Development, working closely with the Marketing team, being involved in Medicines procurement and generally advising Senior Management. 

He is very motivated by people development and education and has been heavily involved with the development of our Internship programme and the Farm Animal Teaching rotation for final year veterinary students with the Royal Veterinary College, University of London.

Andrew is POV (Principal Official Veterinarian) of Farmcare West Ltd; on the medicines procurement Team for XLVets UK Ltd; Non-Executive Director for VDS (Veterinary Defence Society) and a Governor at Kingston Maurward College, Dorchester.

Andrew was awarded the prestigious Fellowship of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (FRCVS) in 2020 for meritorious contributions to the Veterinary Profession.

Clinically he is interested in proactive health planning programmes and calf health. He has an active interest in Responsible Use of Medicines and the steps we can take in veterinary practice in minimising any impact on AMR (anti-microbial resistance).

He received the UK Food & Farming Industry Animal Health Adviser of the year award in 2019.

In his spare time, he is a keen follower of both rugby union and football – being a passionate Welshman avidly following the national rugby team but also a lifelong supporter, for his sins, of Swansea City AFC! He is a member of a local mixed voice Choir, enjoys walking the Dorset coast and countryside with his family and their dog.

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Claire Rudd BVetMed MRCVS

Claire qualified in 2005, and has worked in Dorset for the majority of her career.  Her main clinical focus is cattle medicine, and she has particular interests in fertility and infectious disease control. 

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Nicky Ogden BVM BVS MVM MRCVS

Nicky qualified in 2012 and has spent her entire career working in farm animal practice, both in the UK and New Zealand. In 2018 she spent a year completing further study in sheep health and production at Nottingham University. Nicky enjoys improving flock health and productivity and joined Synergy in 2021 to further enhance our sheep team.

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Andre Northey DrMVet MRCVS

Andre graduated in 2005 in his native Germany, before joining Synergy Farm Health in 2012.  Andre is especially interested in bovine surgery and set up our Embryo Collection and Transfer service for cattle and alpacas. In 2020 Andre completed the well regarded Cow Signals training.  Andre delivers our four day AI course for farmers and herdsmen, as well as teaching final year students from the Royal Veterinary College. 

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Bella Lowis MA VetMB MRCVS

Bella graduated in 2010 and has spent the majority of her career working in Dorset, joining Synergy Farm Health in 2019.  Bella is experienced in all farm animal clinical procedures and has a particular interest in youngstock. 

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Emily Gascoigne MA VetMB DipECSRHM MRCVS
RCVS Recognised Specialist in Sheep Health and Production

Emily graduated in 2012 and has worked at Synergy Farm Health throughout her career. Whilst enthusiastic about all aspects of farm animal practice, Emily has a special interest is sheep and goat production, with particular emphasis on flock health planning, reducing production losses and infectious disease control. Emily gained the European Diploma in Small Ruminant Health Management in 2018 and is an RCVS Recognised Specialist in Sheep Health and Production.  Emily is the Regional Vet Lead for our Central Area and a shareholder in the practice.

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Sam Cottam BVSc MSc MRCVS

Sam graduated in 2015 and has worked in several farm animal practices in the south west before joining Synergy Farm Health.  Sam has a particular interest in dairy cow nutrition and has been closely involved in the development of our nutritional advice service.  

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Tom Clarke BVSc MRCVS
Clinical Director

Tom graduated in 2002 and has spent his whole career in farm animal practice, including several years working in New Zealand.  Tom has a particular interest in dairy herd health and productivity, in both intensive high yielding herds as well as grass based block calving units.  Tom is also one of our in house mastitis specialists.  As an AHDB mastitis plan deliverer Tom performs mastitis investigations into challenging situations on farm, specialising in dynamic testing of milking parlours.  Tom became a shareholder in the practice in 2013 and spent a number of years as East regional lead vet, before becoming Clinical Director in 2019. 

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Josie Burridge BVM&S MRCVS

Josie graduated in 2015 and joined Synergy Farm Health in 2019.  Josie has a particular interest in dairy herd health and productivity and especially youngstock.

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Ben Barber BVetMed MRCVS

Ben qualified in 2014. Ben’s primary interests lie in beef cattle, both suckler herds but also calf rearers and finishers, and he spends a considerable amount of his time delivering consultancy work to the UK’s largest beef integration chain. Ben also delivers routine work to a number of dairy herds where he enjoys improving herd performance and productivity. Ben is actively engaged with the teaching of university students at Synergy and has also been part of teaching projects abroad in aid of charity.  Ben became a shareholder in the practice in 2020.