Elizabeth Johnson, a BSc Animal Science student from Newcastle University and Ellen Smith, studying at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies (RDSVS), Edinburgh have been crowned the winners of this year’s RABDF Farm Health Management Awards. The presentation was made at the Gold Cup Open Day, Dorset, on Wednesday 28 June, where each received a £500 cash prize from competition sponsor, Volac.
A certificate was presented to the two other finalists short-listed for the award: Louise Swanston studying BSC Animal Science at Aberystwyth University and Olivia Dower-Tylee, a Veterinary Medicine and Surgery student at RDSVS, Edinburgh.
Now in its tenth year, this annual competition was open to agriculture and veterinary students from any course year including postgraduate students. It required applicants to write a 1,500 word essay on proactive farm health management - a key element of the Defra/industry Animal Health and Welfare Strategy, and the benefits it brings to animal health and welfare and farm business profitability.
Students had to demonstrate an understanding of disease costs and its financial impact on business performance together with the impact of good nutrition, consider the environmental effects of disease and its likely impact on meat and milk quality, comment on the importance of collaboration between farm staff, vets and other advisors in formulating health management plans and consider the differences among the various livestock sectors and how one can learn from another.
The essays were judged by a panel featuring RABDF Council member and Gelli Aur College farm manager, John Owen; veterinary surgeon Oli Hodgkinson, and John Sumner, dairy consultant and award chairman.
John Sumner commented, “The standard of entries this year had risen again and it’s clear that both sets of students have grasped the importance and consequences of taking a proactive approach to health management.
“Ellen was a clear winner in the veterinary group with a well-researched and structured essay. It was however more difficult to separate the agricultural students, but Elizabeth topped the field by demonstrating good use of research and an impressive analytical approach.”
John Reynolds of award sponsor, Volac said: “We are pleased to support agricultural and veterinary students in this award which brings a focus to the importance of taking a holistic approach to best practice in livestock management. We believe that their heightened awareness towards a proactive approach to farm health management covering all aspects, from housing and nutrition to financial impact, will be of huge benefit in their future careers.”