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Farm vets in Wales leading the way in responsible antimicrobial prescribing

23 Nov 2023 | Gwen Rees


BVA Welsh Branch President Gwen Rees, who leads the Arwain Veterinary Prescribing Champions network in Wales, gives an overview of the network’s helpful antimicrobial stewardship resources for farm vets.

Farm vets in Wales leading the way in responsible antimicrobial prescribing  Image

Ensuring vets prescribe antimicrobials responsibly in farmed animals is a key element of tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the UK. Arwain DGC is a collaborative antimicrobial stewardship initiative in Wales, funded through Welsh Government and led by Menter a Busnes with project partners Iechyd Da, Welsh Lamb and Beef Producers, the University of Bristol and Aberystwyth University. Each project partner leads on a key area of tackling AMR, with projects looking at measuring antibiotic use on farms, studying the levels of resistance in the environment in Wales, innovative technological solutions to reduce the need for antibiotics on farm, and ways of improving farm disease surveillance and biosecurity.

One of the key areas of focus, which I lead on through my roles at Aberystwyth University and Menter a Busnes is the Arwain Veterinary Prescribing Champions (VPC) Network. This Network has brought vets from 90% of farm or mixed practices in Wales together since 2020 to participate in an ongoing, regular programme of training in responsible veterinary medicine use alongside discussion groups, peer learning, workshops, webinars and other in-person and online events. The VPC Network is award-winning, having won the Antibiotic Guardian Award 2023 for Prescribing and Stewardship, and has been presented as a model for change internationally.

Practical resources for farm vets

The VPC Network has been responsible for creating and delivering several important outputs, including policy recommendations and designing and implementing antimicrobial stewardship interventions within vet practices to improve the way antibiotics are used. It has worked together with Aberystwyth University and the wider Arwain DGC project partners to develop two key national antimicrobial stewardship interventions for the profession aimed at supporting practising vets to prescribe responsibly and develop strong working relationships with their farmers to ensure antimicrobials are used as prescribed.

The following resources are currently available to everyone who is part of the VPC Network. They are expected to be publicly accessible from next year.

The first is an Arwain Code of Prescribing Conduct for practices to sign up to. This voluntary Code of Conduct is intended to drive positive change within Welsh farm vet practices, to ensure consistency and accountability in prescribing and to signpost to farming clients towards practices that are actively engaged with responsible antimicrobial use, the VPC Network and the Arwain DGC program.

The Network has also produced practical, useable treatment guidelines for six key diseases in cattle and sheep that they identified as being most important to their antibiotic use.




Watery Mouth (E.coli enterotoxaemia)

Bovine Respiratory Disease

Joint ill (neonatal polyarthritis)

Neonatal diarrhoea

Lameness (scald, Digital Dermatitis, CODD)

Mastitis – Selective Dry Cow Therapy


By combining the practical experience of clinical farm vets with evidence reviews conducted by academics at Aberystwyth University, these co-designed clinical guidelines were launched in 2023. They cover disease aetiology, risk factors, disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment and are set out in a range of resources.

Practice resources

  • Clinical Guidelines. In-depth booklets are intended to sit within the veterinary practice as a reference for vets who need to know the detail on each disease.
  • Supporting Guidance. Online supporting documents containing the full literature reviews for vets wishing to further explore the evidence-base behind their decision making.

Vet resources

  • Disease Digest. These quick reference guides are distributed on never-tear paper to be kept in the vet’s car as a practical, on-farm resource outlining the best approach to each disease.

Farm resources

  • Point Planners. A bespoke planning poster that the vet will complete with the farmer during their animal health review for each disease, outlining the farms’ specific risk factors, mitigating actions, diagnostic testing and management changes.
  • Treatment planners. Posters intended to be completed by the vet and farmer, specifically for that farm, and displayed prominently for all farm staff.


If you are a farm vet in Wales and would like to get involved, contact Gwen Rees at: [email protected].


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