Ready to support a growing customer network in Hampshire, Sussex, Surrey and Kent and educate the future generation of farm vets, Endell Farm Vets is set to move to its new training and office facilities in Alton, Hampshire this spring.
After acquiring the farm work from Hampshire-based Cedar Veterinary Group four years ago, Endell was keen to continue to support the region’s farmers. Although the Salisbury-based veterinary group, which can trace its history back 200 years, has mainly serviced Wiltshire and Dorset, the new facilities will allow the team to strengthen its presence in Hampshire and West Sussex.
“When we took over the Cedar Vets’ farm work, we were open with clients that our head office in Salisbury would temporarily service the area,” said Jim Willshire, director at Endell Farm Vets. “Over the years those customers have remained loyal and we have been able to grow together to the point where we have been able to invest in a fully fledged Hampshire practice.”
The practice, which currently employs 15 farm vets, is growing too. In September 2017, Hayley Hickling and Lissie Gercke, who are both based from satellite offices in Oxted and Guildford, joined Endell Farm Vets to help the company extend its services into Surrey and Kent.
The new facilities, two renovated buildings on the Rotherfield Estate, a long-standing dairy client of Endell’s, will not only provide a Hampshire office base for the practice, but will also be used to train veterinary students following Endell’s collaboration with the Royal Veterinary College in 2017.
“We deliver a fixed fortnightly rota to final year veterinary students from the Royal Veterinary College,” said Jim Willshire. “From an industry perspective there are not enough veterinary students interested in the agricultural sector. We wanted to be able to show students what a professional, progressive farm department is doing while also building a base practice for our clients in this area.”
Alongside teaching the young vets of tomorrow, Endell also invests in advising and training their clients to promote knowledge sharing between farmers, and the development of skills. As well as providing on-farm advice and hosting dairy and sheep discussion groups for farmers of mixed abilities, the new facilities will be used to run an array of training courses for agricultural customers.
“We run a lot of courses for our customers, from introductory sessions for beginners to more advanced sessions,” said Jim. “We cover everything from basic lambing and calving to make sure those in their first season know when to call for help, to foot trimming courses for those dealing with complicated lameness cases, to advanced artificial insemination courses which would take a customer right through to being licensed.”
Part of the farm
Favouring a proactive and holistic approach, the farm animal team at Endell are not the sort of vets to simply sit by the phone waiting for farmers with sick or injured animals to call.
While the team is expecting to be busy through February and March with lambing and calving, for Endell’s clients the involvement doesn’t just start on the first day of calving.
“Rather than simply turning up for the emergency call outs, we would want to identify and get ahead of any potential problems,” said Jim Willshire. “We look at the breeding programme, the nutritional management and afterwards we would have a debrief about the bull selection, such as have they got the conformation they want and how the growth rates are?
“The idea is that you don’t just hear from a farm when they have a problem,” said Hayley Hickling, part of the Endell Farm Vets’ East team. “With our year-round consultancy services and by becoming part of the farm’s team, even if it is just through discussions over the phone or by email, our continuous contact with customers means we can try to prevent animal health issues from arising in the first place.”
With each farm being assigned a primary and secondary vet, customers not only have a point of call, but the team at Endell Farm Vets are able to take a more active role in their customers’ businesses.
“We are very much working with the farm, and for the farm,” said Jim. “Our vets are often seen as part of the farm’s management team and we attend quarterly meetings to discuss the issues of the day or areas of the farm. It’s all about mutual growth and by getting involved with the strategic planning of the farm we can help our customers to identify and meet their targets within the context of a sustainable and profitable businesses.”
Passionate about nurturing growth on customers’ farms, whether it is a dairy farmer, for instance, who is looking for more milk, a tight calving pattern or cows dried off in summer, Endell Farm Vets see every farm as unique and will advise on a range of schemes. “We were recently involved in a dairy farm whose yield wasn’t where it needed to be,” said Jim Willshire. “The farm had a very clear aim that they wanted an 8,500-litre herd, calving in a tight autumn block. They were achieving only 7,000 litres and if they continued without making alterations the yield was predicted to fall to 6,500 litres.”
Being able to track the issues back to a genetic breeding management decision, Endell presented the farm with some scenario planning. Detailed options showed the predicted trajectory of yield if the farm continued with the same system, what would happen if issues were slowly bred out, and also the extreme solution of selling and replacing animals.
Highly regarded team
Benefitting from one of the most qualified teams in the country, the depth of shared knowledge means there are few issues which cannot be solved and many of Endell’s farm vets have also developed specialist areas of interest within the context of delivering a primary care service.
“We have invested heavily in our team education wise,” said Jim. “Within our team of 15, we can talk to each other to come up with the answers regardless of the species, whether it is beef, dairy, sheep, smallholders with alpacas, or gamekeepers with pheasants.”
The team of vets is complimented by four highly regarded vet technicians who not only supply products like ear tags and dairy hygiene chemicals, but also help to collect data and offer a range of complimentary services for busy farmers.
“With more animals and fewer stock persons available, over the last two or three years we have expanded our traditional services to look at breeding and mobility,” said Jim. “We have a very skilled and experienced breeding technician, Phil Macpherson, who will deal with the entire process from genomically testing cows, to ranking potential performance, to developing a breeding programme and delivering with heat detecting and artificial insemination services.”
The independent vet technicians also provide a crucial role in ensuring that farmers have the relevant information and data to make an informed decision to move the farming business forward.
“It is very easy to look at your own cows and not see changes because it’s like looking at your own children,” said Jim Willshire. “By using the vet technicians to score them objectively it gives a real understanding and fresh pair of eyes. Vets can then take that information and work with farmers to achieve desired targets.”