Farmer’s Guardian spoke to beef and arable farmer Fiona Skeen about life as a Disease? Not On My Farm! Ambassador.
(L to R: Fiona’s son Graham Skeen, vet Iain McCormick and Fiona Skeen)
I became involved in the ambassador programme because I love learning, and in particular the livestock side of things interests me. I originally wanted to become a vet so animal health is an area where I look to try and further my knowledge.
Yes, I have been part of a discussion group, and my vet has now set up a local beef producer group which I am looking forward to being involved in.
I share my experiences of what’s happening on the farm and what I do to champion preventive healthcare. As part of this I work very closely with my vet talking about both the success stories and challenges we’ve experienced and what we do to improve our herd health. This has included us giving interviews for articles, meeting with other ambassadors and doing some filming on the farm.
It doesn’t take up too much time at all and the experiences I’ve gained so far have been well worth it.
One of the highlights for me so far has been meeting up with the other ambassadors at the recent vaccine plant tour courtesy of MSD Animal Health. I really enjoyed learning what the other ambassadors are doing in other parts of the country where they may have a similar system but are doing things slightly differently. I also now appreciate the full extent of vaccine production and how many individual processes are involved.
My son Graham has also found it a positive experience as it’s sparked interest and conversation about what we’re doing on the farm with others. We’ve also really enjoyed the media visits to the farm so we can show them what we do. What would you say to others who are thinking about joining a discussion group? It’s a great way to make friends and get away from the farm because farming can be a lonely profession at times. The new knowledge you gain can also help to support your decision making whether it’s through questioning your vet or doing further research into a topic. It’s also a great opportunity to bounce new ideas off others and seek their opinion.