Team approach leads to awards for practice and clients - Veterinary Practice
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Team approach leads to awards for practice and clients

reports on the successful merger of the livestock divisions of two practices in the south-west

SYNERGY Farm Health, a member
of the XL Vets group, is a relatively
new company founded just over a
year ago. The practice results from
merging the livestock
divisions of
Kingfisher and
Southfield who
together had long
histories servicing
farms in Somerset,
Dorset and East

The team of six
veterinary directors
comprises Trevor
Green as chairman,
Mark Burnell, Alastair Hayton and
Jonathan Reader who hold Diplomas in
Cattle Medicine, plus Jereme Darke and
Andrew Davies with RCVS Certificates
in Cattle Health and Production.

One year on, they are now able to
reflect on their original vision for the
practice currently serving approximately
40,000 dairy cows in the region, which
is to provide excellent clinical solutions that fit with the farmer’s requirements,
whilst continually striving to improve
their own operational efficiencies.

The practice employs a total of 21
large animal vets, three of whom are dedicated to
TB, but with 11
support staff, five
paraprofessionals and
three dedicated SQPs,
the practice is fully
equipped to offer what
they describe as a
totally holistic approach
to improving health
and productivity within the herds and flocks
under their care.

A team approach both within the
practice and on farm, particularly for
the larger herds, is core to their
management principles. The practice’s
five paraprofessionals perform routine
farm management tasks such as foot
trimming, mobility scoring, freeze
branding plus a comprehensive heifer
rearing service.

Mark Burnell was recently awarded
the title of Farmers Weekly Adviser of
the Year. He recognised ahead of their
business merger that to succeed and
equip the business effectively for the
future, they not only needed to provide
excellent service (without relying on the
profit margins provided by drug sales)
but also operate on a larger scale to
make cost savings.

In addition to this advisory award,
two of Synergy Farm Health’s own
clients were also awarded Beef and
Dairy Farmer awards at the same event.
The Beef Farmer of the year, John
Hoskin, was also named overall Farmers
Farmer of the Year 2010. The
judges commented that he was “a great
advert for modern farming – with
emphasis on quality food production
whilst retaining traditional values”.

Jonathan Reader recently took the
award for “best poster” at the 2010
British Mastitis Conference and also
consults for the 2010 Farmers Weekly
Dairy Farmer of the Year, Neil Baker,
where he is an integral part of the farm
team. Jon, supported by Jereme Darke,
is on farm twice a week and helps to
shape the way the farm progresses.

Synergy believes that a farm vet
should be part of the business structure
within larger dairy units such as this.
Neil Baker manages 1,000 dairy cows
and accepts that health performance,
with KPIs to match, is crucial to his
business development. Mastitis is down to 11 cases per 100 cows per year and
lameness down to 6.9%, but the targets
have now reduced to zero.

The paraprofessionals perform
mobility scores on his herd every
fortnight. Neil’s focus is on prevention
and he admits that, “with this many
cows, you’ve got to do it right”.

Alan King, Synergy’s commercial
manager, has many years’ experience
within farming and retail sectors and
fully recognises that IT and data capture
is a crucial part of their business and
service angle going forward.

The paraprofessionals are equipped
with “ruggedized” laptop computers
allowing them to directly record
mobility scores on farm and instantly
provide printouts to graphically
demonstrate herd trends and provide
lists of cows that require foot trimming.
The foot trimmers are equipped with
state-of-the-art crushes, making them as
efficient and effective as possible.

Diagnostic facilities

Full diagnostic facilities are provided at
the practice laboratory in Evershot,
Dorset. Here, two fully qualified lab
technicians conduct a full array of
services. The practice is also able to
offer post mortem services to other
practices within the Frome Vale fallen
stock scheme.

Appreciating the importance of
drug sales and accurate on-farm use,
Synergy has developed a partnership
with a local agricultural merchant, Bartlett Country Stores, where it
provides SQP sales staff within three
stores. As the practice SQPs, they are
also able to ensure that best practice is
maintained and that appropriate
diagnostics are employed to support
drug use wherever possible.

The practice also manages the
dispensing and delivery of POM-V
products to one of eight collection
points within the practice’s territory for
same day collection by farm clients.

Synergy actively participates in
education and research across the
country. Alastair Hayton heads the
consultancy and research division of the
business and also sits on several
examination boards.

Andrew Davies is one of the XL
Vets’ group directors and all Synergy
vets participate in the XL Farm Skills
LANTRA training. The practice offers
large animal extramural veterinary
student teaching for the Bristol,
Nottingham and London veterinary

This year Synergy Farm Health was
present at the South West Dairy Event
and has also held a highly successful
open day for clients at its headquarters
in Evershot.

The practice supports all its routine
communications with a comprehensive
website –
– and maintains that business growth in
this sector comes from developing new
initiatives for existing clients and by
working smarter.

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