XLVets raises £60,000 and makes a practical difference with Send A Cow charity

The XLVets community of independent practices has reached the end of a three-year project which was implemented as part of its ten-year anniversary. Over the course of that time, £60,000 has been raised by XLVets, with the help of Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health who contributed £15,000 over three years. All of the funds raised enabled vets to deliver an animal management training programme to Send a Cow’s African staff, called the Farm Skills Africa project – in which vets from XLVet practices took an active part. Through a combination of classroom learning, practical sessions and farm visits, Send a Cow staff were trained in a range of topics relating to improved animal management and agricultural techniques.

Over six trips, two vets at a time from various XLVet practices travelled to East Africa to pass on their knowledge and improve outcomes on local farms. The work originally focussed on cattle but was so successful that it soon expanded to include sheep, goats, pigs and chickens. Gender equality was an important part of the project, with female vets equally represented and able to demonstrate that they are recognised for their contribution and skill in the UK; helping to encourage other women in East Africa to work in the profession.

The participating vets were impressed both by the knowledge of local people from the charity and the approach to one health and the project was described by one vet as, “The most humbling, rewarding thing I’ve done as a vet.”

A total of 33 Send a Cow staff members have attended the training, benefiting 100,000 project members. Sheila Halder, Farm Systems Manager at Send a Cow, said, “The project was instrumental in building the capacity of Send a Cow staff. The core member approach, whereby our members attended multiple training sessions worked really well and helped to embed the learning into the long-term memory. Staff come back to refresh what they have learnt, and in turn they will become the trainers.”

Valens, Programme Manager on the Inka Nziza Project in Rwanda, has noticed a quantifiable effect, “Our vets and farmers now see proof that production is increasing as they put XLVets teachings into practice.”

While Agnes, who works on the Rakai Orphans project in Uganda, said the work on positive communication with farmers was really helpful, “Our members learned how to communicate issues on farm and to pick just one or two to address, rather than expressing all of them.”

Of particular note was the benefit of Cow Signals training in helping people to interpret cow behaviours and the association with conditions such as lameness. Charlotte who attended on behalf of Tyndale Vets focused on cow signals and mastitis during her trip to Uganda, “I really noticed how dedicated the participants were to the needs of others – everyone was willing to make sacrifices to benefit the whole community. It was also very evident how much can change in just one year.”

As Bryony Kendall from Tyndale Vets, explains, it was important to provide support other than purely through fund raising, “As vets, we wanted to go and teach others how to better care for their animals and to improve productivity. By enabling people, we can make a long-term difference so they can lift themselves out of poverty. We are delighted to have supported this important work across Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya and to have provided the support people and animals need to thrive in challenging conditions.”

To find out more about working at XLVets practices, visit https://www.xlvets.co.uk/the-boss/.