Case study – James Russell, Derbyshire cattle vet

James Russell graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2002. After a brief stint in mixed practice work in Essex, he moved to Uttoxeter in 2003 where he has been working with farm animal clients ever since. As a director of Derbyshire Veterinary Services he spans an area from the fringes of Stoke-On-Trent to the Hope Valley, therefore being involved with a wide variety of farming challenges. His interest in preventative health care has developed through his career, crystallising through his farmer training with the national Johne’s program in 2008. This led to him delivering TB awareness training across the East Midlands through the following year.

His interest in Bovine TB developed through the following years, under guidance from Carl Padgett and others at the British Veterinary Association where James has sat as an independent member of the Veterinary Policy Group for many years. Bovine TB has been a standing agenda item through this time, including developing a comprehensive policy to support the objectives of control of TB in cattle. Attending the International M. bovis conference in Cardiff in 2014, James’ poster on TB biosecurity measures won a prize in the category of best practical advice on TB.

“I believe that increasingly our role as Veterinary Surgeons is to advise on practical steps which farmers can take to protect themselves and their stock. I consider health, welfare and productivity to be so deeply related as to be almost indistinguishable. Therefore, my advice to farmers around improving animal health is always aimed at improving their productive efficiency. This is a crucial goal if we are to move to a situation of improved food security and reduced carbon footprint of our food industry.”

Implementing biosecurity measures can reduce your herd’s TB risk

A farm in Staffordshire in the High Risk Area suffering with high TB disclosure rates invested in biosecurity measures to badger-proof their cattle housing and feed stores in 2013. They have seen disclosure rates fall sharply against a regional backdrop of ongoing high disclosure rates.

“Specifically on TB, I see it as crucial to take my farmers from a situation of feeling helpless, to one of taking control over their TB destiny. This is not absolute control, but altering behaviours, whether that is purchasing choices, raising water troughs or everything in between, provides the building blocks for reducing TB risk. We undertake this as a practice and as individual vets through routine and regular risk audits on our farms. This covers multiple diseases, and includes bovine TB. Identifying herds at a high risk of TB incursion and delivering advice which when carried out reduces their risk level, is the single greatest service I believe we can offer our clients.”

“Nobody wins when we firefight sick cows. The farmer has lost the profit in that cow, as well as her future. As vets we derive neither a satisfactory income, nor a professional fulfilment from examining and treating sick cows. Where farmer and vet alike derive the best outcome is when we are able to help by predicting risk, and guiding in preventing it. This predict and prevent model will underlie farm vets’ involvement in bovine TB amongst other diseases, where proactive farmers wish to secure a viable future in livestock farming.”

James-Russell case study - TB Hub