To grow a business from one independent unit to a successful national company in just 15 years normally takes not just enterprise, hard work and determination but a clear focus on profitability.
Against that background it is refreshing to note that the Westpoint veterinary group has achieved its rapid growth by focusing instead on its customers and taking a far-from hardnosed approach to the commercial side of things.
As an example, while other vets in the South East have pulled out of TB testing because the new arrangements have made it far less profitable than it used to be, Westpoint is still supporting farmers in their efforts to fight the disease.
The group’s size gives it the buying power to purchase medicines in bulk, making saving that it passes on customers, while its knowledge transfer team’s sole aim is to provide vital information to farmers, both through seminars and meetings and, more recently, online.
Added to that, Westpoint’s determination to eradicate bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) is a mark of its commitment to improving animal health and helping farmers maximise the returns from their business.
“Our goal is always to prevent animals getting sick,” explained director Paul Horwood. “Yes, we are paid to treat them, but we would rather work with healthy herds and flocks to help farmers increase their yields than keep returning to tackle recurrent problems such as BVD.”
That desire to help farmers earn more from their animals by improving their health and welfare is also highlighted by Westpoint’s paraprofessional team, which delivers mobility scoring and foot trimming across the region and is designed to increase yields by keeping herds healthy.
“Because we are a 100% farm animal practice, we understand farming and the commercial realities of the business,” explained Paul. “That means we know how important it is to keep cows mobile and to avoid lameness in the herd.
“A healthy cow is a happy cow and a happy cow is a productive cow – and that applies to weight gains in beef cattle as well as milk yields and efficient calving in dairy cows.
“We have a team of four fully-qualified paraprofessionals with cattle crushes and all the equipment they need to carry out mobility scoring and foot trimming, as well as disbudding horns and other work.
“It’s an important service and it can provide a real boost to the business’s bottom line. We estimate that a cow that goes lame can cost £150 in lost productivity, which is a lot more than the less-than £20 it costs to trim its feet. What we want to encourage is routine trimming, not ‘fire brigade’ trimming – and that’s what our team is set up to deliver.”