Three farms are most popular for learning
THREE North Devon Farms are part of a scheme voted most popular among farmers for learning about livestock.
They are East Alsery Farm at Holsworthy, Beacon View, near Tiverton and Kimbland Farm, near Brayford.
They are called Focus Farms and feature in the Healthy Livestock (HL) programme for the South West, which was voted by farmers the programme best for on-farm benefits in a comparison with 11 other national schemes.
Now the scheme has been extended to October 2013, which will allow 1,000 more farmers a chance to receive those benefits.
Those involved in HL say it explains latest advances in tackling diseases such as Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD), Johne's disease, Lameness, Mastitis and Respiratory disease in cattle.
It also encourages applying the principles through diagnostic testing and through control and prevention.
The sheep programme in particular encourages farmers to work more closely with their vets on proactive health planning to increase their profitability.
It involves a series of focus group events on monitored 18 focus farms across the region.
A similar focus farm programme on a smaller scale is in place for the beef sector.
The scheme is open to all livestock farmers and they can use as many disease 'strands' as they like with 70 per cent funding.
All the main 80 farm veterinary practices in the South West have been trained to deliver the scheme, along with livestock advisers for specific elements.
Each focus farm hosts three meetings each year to update the discussion group on targeted action and progress made.
Cost benefits are analysed and discussed with attendees to share knowledge.
There is also a resident vet involved in the project, Clare Phythian of Bristol University.