Testimonial: NOAH AMBP and me

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I’m Mark Jelley; I graduated from Harper Adams University College in 2002 before returning home to our family farm in Northamptonshire. I’m a beef and arable farmer running a suckler herd and finisher unit and I currently host an AHDB Strategic Beef Farm. I’m also an appointee on the NFU National Livestock Board and through these two roles have become increasingly aware of the threat posed to on-farm antibiotic use and the challenges presented to the industry by Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

I strongly believe that as an industry we can both reduce antibiotic use and maintain access to the vital range of products available to us and improved farmer understanding plays an important role in this process. When I was invited to be an early participant in NOAH’s AMBP Programme, I was happy to expand my knowledge and take the opportunity to learn more about the products I was using on farm and why they were chosen.

At the beginning, I was afraid the learning sessions would not fit around my work and personal life. However, I will admit that I found the course to be well structured and tailored around my needs: I’d say each module took me around 35 minutes to complete in total, but I would complete a few sections of the course one evening, then return to it later in the week and pick up where I left off. It helped a lot with my understanding of the content and it was much less like a classroom lesson and more like being able to dip in and out of a book when time allowed.

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The content itself was straightforward and thorough in covering many of my unanswered questions on antibiotics, such as: reasons for product choice, withdrawals period and ways to reduce their use on farm. The programme also provided additional modules for specific enterprise issues, giving me the opportunity to focus on the training that could bring the greatest benefits to my animals and my farm.

I’ve done some online distance learning courses before and I found them daunting, but overall I’ve been satisfied with the AMBP Programme and would recommend it to others. The modules are written in an accessible way and I can see good potential in the format as it offers a useful resource for farmers, employees and even students, if there was the option to expand it to cater to their requirements too.

Agricultural students provide a large proportion of the new workforce arriving on farms each year and equipping them with an understanding of AMR best practice at an early stage will really help to further improve animal health and further drive down antibiotic use. From my part, I was already making efforts to reduce medicines on farm, but the modules have helped me understand where some of my challenges are arising and what I can do to tackle them. I’ve also got a better understanding of why my vet sometimes insists I change products or prescribes a more expensive product which has helped too!

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