Nearly 400 beef and sheep farmers from across Wales have so far signed up to a pro-active animal health planning project.

Stoc+, promoted by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), now has 395 farmers on its books.

The project is a bid to improve overall health of herds and flocks and ultimately to enhance animal health planning and boosting production efficiency.

Stoc+ forms one part of HCC’s three-strand, Welsh Government and EU-funded red meat development programme.

During the course of the five-year project HCC will bring together up to 500 commercial sheep and beef producers across Wales and encourage them to adopt a ‘prevention is better than cure’ approach to animal health.

Each participating farmer will receive practical, expert advice and specialist support for up to three years.

In addition, all farmers will benefit from a tailor-made flock and herd health plan and action plan to work towards various targets set by their local veterinary practitioner.

As part of the project, the team have identified a small number of ambassadors who include farmers and veterinary practitioners.

The ambassadors’ role includes encouraging their peers to get involved and demonstrating the practical benefits of proactive health planning in terms of animal health and farm profitability.

Jonathan Lewis from Llandrindod Wells is one of the ambassadors.

His upland farm has 80 Simmental, Limousin and Stabiliser cows and 1,680 Lleyn, mules and Welsh mountain sheep and lambs.

He said: “There were many reasons behind joining the project. I wanted to improve the overall health of my flock as well as increase the number of lambs that I sold while reducing the number of days to slaughter.

"During the course of the project, I would also like to reduce the antibiotics used on the farm and be advised on how to improve biosecurity.”

Claire Jones of Dolgellau Vets is a vet ambassador for the project, and as a vet and farmer’s wife, has a passion for preventative medicine and herd and flock health work.

Claire says: “Health planning is something that I feel should be an integral part of all farm management, as it improves the efficiency of the farm and health of the animals and also helps to improve the vet and farmer communication and relationship.”

For more information on the project and to meet other project ambassadors visit the HCC website.