AHDB Beef & Lamb have delivered a Sheep Expertise programme, offering continuous professional development (CPD) to consultants and advisers who want to expand their sheep knowledge. The meetings ran from December 2016 to November 2017. The programme is currently closed but will re-open for applications in summer 2018, with the first meeting expected to be October 2018, running 5 meetings up to November 2019.

The scheme was launched following the success of the Developing Beef Expertise group.

Nerys Wright, AHDB knowledge exchange manager and one of the programme coordinators, said: “Following from the success of the first programme, it is very likely we will repeat this course in the future.

Below is a summary of the series of meetings from the first programme, followed by a list of the group members.

The first meeting was held in December in Hertfordshire. The focus of this meeting was feeding the pregnant ewe. Kate Phillips, independent sheep consultant spent a day discussing forage analysis, options for supplementation and how vets and advisers can work with farmers to improve ewe nutrition in the latter stages of pregnancy. The update of the ‘feeding the ewe’ manual was timely and discussed at length.

There was case study work on the physical data from farms. This was complimented by a farm walk to discuss grassland and management options for the farmer.

Sheep meeting

Liz Genever said “The second meeting of the DSE group followed on quickly from the first meeting to avoid the busy lambing period.  The group went down to Mount Vets near Cullompton in Devon to take part in a post-mortem session run by Alasdair Winearls, which involved a discussion on how the members of groups, whether vets or consultants, use health data with their clients.  The group shared techniques during the practical session and identified a lamb that had died due to strangulation in an electric fence.

The group also heard the results from a recent AHDB Beef & Lamb funded project conducted by Emily Gascoigne of Synergy on encouraging producers to post-mortem young lambs to understand how losses can be reduced.  There was some discussion on the recent results from the producer-focussed post-mortem scheme based at a Fallen Stock Collection Centre in County Durham  plus the data from the new Sheep Health and Welfare Group report .

Developing sheep expertise meeting

During the second day, there was a group discussion about how to engage clients with benchmarking. David Pett, AHDB’s regional benchmarking officer, discussed Stocktake Lite and Farmbench and how the group could engage with these tools with their clients.  There was a lot of discussion on how to get quality data from farms and how to get producers to recognise the value of the data and time needed to analyse it.

The final session was Pete Bone from Ruminant Mineral Consultancy answering the group’s questions on how to diagnose and treat mineral deficiencies.  He also discussed the various sources of minerals in diets and the care that is needed to avoid toxicities.

This meeting had a very positive feel about it and the group seem to be enjoying the opportunity to meet with other people who enjoying working with sheep producers.

Sheep body condition scoring

The third DSE meeting took place at the University of Lancaster on the 3rd and 4th of May. Day one began with James Hadwin’s approach to consultancy, including discussion on the role of a consultant and the challenges they face in the industry, before visiting a local farm to demonstrate improvements that have been made with the support of consultants. The day finished with a workshop on body condition scoring with Lesley Stubbings.

The second day began with presentations from DSE members on some of their experiences of developing health plans and included discussion and advice from other members on topics such as Maedi Visna and lameness. This was followed by a presentation by Lesley on the results of the sheep KPI project. The final session concentrated on parasite control with thoughts on the success of SCOPS and potential for improvement in the future followed by case studies of worm control, where groups provided solutions to challenging issues they may face on farms.

Throughout the meeting members appeared engaged and contributed to lively and productive discussion on a variety of issues, including challenges to the industry, health plans and parasite resistance.


The fourth DSE meeting took place in Barnard Castle on the 6th and 7th of September. Day one began with Ian Cairns approach to consultancy and discussion opportunities in the area before moving on to an exercise focused on understanding financial performance. The afternoon’s farm visit included appraisal of a newly completed lambing shed and discussion of options for parasite control on this farm.

On the second day there were in-depth discussions on key issues facing the industry. Firstly, there was productive debate led by Fiona Lovatt on what the UK should do to tackle iceberg disease over the next 10 years. This was followed by discussion on antibiotic use in the sheep industry and how members thought this could be reduced with important points concerning the industry and prescribing practices were raised. The day closed with a guide to forage options on sheep farms and a practical session on how to generate a winter feed budget, led by Liz Genever.

The final DSE meeting took place in Nottinghamshire on 15 and 16 November. Day one focused on genetics and breeding and was joint with the Sheep Progressive Group. Sam Boon gave an in-depth presentation on estimated breeding values (EBVs) followed by a staged ram sale which was a practical demonstration on how to select rams for finishing lambs. Joining progressive farmers and vets together provoked interesting debate and discussion with each group giving the other valuable insight.

Developing sheep expertise


On the second day Kim Stafford delivered facilitation training for the DSE group. Already experienced facilitators, this day was designed to hone their skills and improve their understanding of different personality types and how they interact in a group situation. Kim also covered a range of techniques to keep discussions focused, engaging and meeting the expectations of all participants.

Developing sheep expertise members


 Name  Role  Contact details and area
 Caroline Abbott


Vet  Email: moc.t1573583800evnog1573583800arap@1573583800ttobb1573583800a.eni1573583800lorac1573583800


Carroll Barber


Consultant  Email: ku.oc1573583800.snoi1573583800tulos1573583800serec1573583800@llor1573583800rac1573583800


Chantel Bryant


 Vet  Email: ku.oc1573583800.redn1573583800oyeul1573583800b@99b1573583800mc1573583800


 Steven Carragher



 Email: ku.oc1573583800.stev1573583800airbm1573583800uhtro1573583800nla@r1573583800ehgar1573583800rac.n1573583800evets1573583800


James Patrick Crilly


 Vet  Email: ku.oc1573583800.liam1573583800toh@y1573583800llirc1573583800.pj1573583800


 Rachel Forster


Vet  Email: ku.oc1573583800.stev1573583800tekra1573583800m@leh1573583800car1573583800


Emily Gascoigne



 Email: moc.h1573583800tlaeh1573583800mrafy1573583800greny1573583800s@eng1573583800iocsa1573583800g.yli1573583800me1573583800


 Davinia Hinde


Vet  Email: ku.oc1573583800.stev1573583800egdir1573583800bniab1573583800@aini1573583800vad1573583800

North Yorkshire

 Hannah Kenway


Vet  Email: moc.l1573583800iamg@1573583800yawne1573583800khann1573583800ah1573583800

Isle of  Wight

 Rosie Miller


Advisor  Email: moc.n1573583800oitir1573583800tunwu1573583800ort@r1573583800ellim1573583800.eiso1573583800r1573583800


 Phillipa Page


 Vet  Email: ku.oc1573583800.htla1573583800ehkco1573583800lf@ap1573583800illih1573583800p1573583800


Benjamin Pullen


 Vet  Email: ku.oc1573583800.ooha1573583800y@40015735838002tev_1573583800cnd1573583800


Kate Peissel


 Vet  Email: ku.oc1573583800.stev1573583800rabts1573583800ew@pe1573583800tak1573583800


 Dr Asif Rao


 Consultant  Email: ku.oc1573583800.sbma1573583800lytil1573583800auqor1573583800ue@fi1573583800sa1573583800


 Karen Wheeler


 Consultant  Email: ku.oc1573583800.sada1573583800@rele1573583800ehw.n1573583800erak1573583800


Shona Young



 Email: moc.l1573583800iamg@1573583800anohs1573583800yecnu1573583800om1573583800