Getting reliable health advice for livestock just got easier. The number of professional animal health advisors, known as SQPs or Suitably Qualified Persons, has recently exceeded 6000. This growing group of animal health professionals works throughout the UK, advising on a range of treatments for livestock, horses and pets.
The 6000th person to qualify as an SQP was Simon Dodds, a retail sales manager who works in Harbro country stores across Scotland. After 30 years in animal nutrition and with a degree in Animal Nutrition from Leeds University, Mr Dodds decided to gain a professional qualification as an SQP.
“Adding an understanding of animal health to my thirty years’ experience in the feed sector is beneficial,” he continues, “SQPs are not qualified to diagnose conditions, that’s the job of a vet, but we are hugely knowledgeable about parasites,” Mr Dodds explains, “focussing on how and when a treatment is being administered is one of our key roles. SQPs bring a level of understanding that can help farmers save money and improve the health, welfare and, ultimately, the profitability of their livestock,” he says.
Mr Dodds says the farmers he works with value the knowledge and advice given by SQPs. “The job of SQPs is to ensure the right approach is being taken for the right animals, even if that is not the way a farmer has done things before. The farmers we work are pleased with the advice we give them. They see the benefits to their animals and to their bottom line,” Mr Dodds says.
In order to gain his professional qualification Mr Dodds studied for six months and attended training at SRUC Craibstone. “Being an SQP is a big commitment,” Mr Dodds explains, “we do many hours of training throughout the year just to keep our qualification and we’re happy to do that because we want to give the best, most up-to-date advice. That includes understanding legislation, which is critical,” he concludes.