A new website designed to promote sustainable farming in both America and the UK has officially gone live. Farm Health Online is a collaboration between Duchy College Rural Business School in the UK, and Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) and its parent A Greener World, both based in the United States.
Farm Health Online currently covers four main species: cattle, sheep, poultry and pigs. Each species has sections on ‘Disease Management’ and ‘Health and Welfare.’ A ‘Veterinary Management’ section also provides information on key and emerging issues, such as antibiotic resistance, health planning and vaccination. The content is fully referenced and reviewed by veterinarians in the U.S. and the UK.
Dr Stephen Roderick from the Rural Business School said: “We wanted to create a website that was easy to navigate, simple to use, but it needed to contain all the right information for members of the farming community. We hope this will empower farmers to look at their current practices and to develop their skills, ultimately becoming more sustainable.”
The site has taken the latest agricultural research and turned into an accessible format and it concentrates on four key principles; the need for animals to have outdoor access, livestock integration with crop farming, forage based feeding, responsible use of veterinary medicines, and the use of breeds and breeding best suited to specific environmental conditions.
The U.S. suffers from a chronic shortage of independent veterinarians; just 17 percent of the 61,000 vets employed in the U.S. work in food-animal veterinary medicine, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Where there are vets, they often have very limited knowledge of managing species like poultry or pigs in pastured systems.
While online advice can never replace support from a qualified vet, Farm Health Online provides the necessary tools and resources to help bridge the current gap, and encourages the adoption of high-welfare, sustainable management practices while helping farmers have informed conversations with their vet about preventative management and alternative treatments.
Director of Communications and Outreach for Animal Welfare Approved, Emily Moose, added: “Every time we mention this project to farmers we get extremely positive feedback. There just isn’t another resource like this out there. While there is significant momentum on the production side to move towards systems that don’t rely on subtherapeutic antibiotics, there aren’t a lot of practical resources to help farmers make the changes on the ground. We’re thrilled to be able to address this need through Farm Health Online, and even more thrilled to be able to offer it for free to everyone.
You can access Farm Health Online by visiting: http://www.farmhealthonline.com/