Promoting veterinary engagement with the principles and practices of regenerative agriculture: session outcomes

Vet Sustain are a recently formed organisation championing sustainability in the veterinary profession: our mission being to enable and inspire veterinary professionals and members of the vet-led team to help secure the wellbeing of animals, people and the natural world – through our own operations and in the sectors we influence.

Our session was chaired by Laura Higham, founder of Vet Sustain, and facilitated by Neil Heseltine, regenerative Yorkshire Dales farmer and much more besides!

We had three speakers. We started with Simon Doherty presenting the breadth and depth of Vet Sustain’s work, shaped by our six Veterinary Sustainability Goals. Our second speaker, Alex Tomlinson, spoke about the central role of ecological complexity, and how managing for greater complexity can be used as a framework for ecological restoration and food production, while caring for people, livestock and wildlife. Our final speaker, Rob Howe, took us to the farm – discussing his work on engaging farmers with the principles of regenerative agriculture though integrated parasite control planning – dung beetles being the star of the show. Rob ended his presentation with a light-hearted, but really powerful film starring several dung beetles – a very fitting end to the presentations. 

There was terrific engagement on the chat from the session participants. Discussion points included: environmental impacts of parasiticides; intervention practices such as calf disbudding; immune responses to parasites; the importance of ‘words’ and terminology in engaging both vets and farmers; and liver fluke (which could have gone on for hours! 😊).

We were delighted with the engagement in the session. Our aim going forwards is to develop toolkits for farm vets to support sustainable and regenerative farming, and find innovative ways to engage with practising vets to maximise uptake of these ideas and principles. 

Thanks NRFC for giving us this opportunity, which has not only allowed us to present our work, but has helped us formulate our own ideas about how to progress. 

You will be able to watch the recording of the session here.

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