VetPartners is playing a key role to support sustainable farming

VetPartners is playing a key role to support sustainable farming

Farming is often cited as a major contributor to climate change and other environmental impacts.

Feeding a growing population is a challenge, and will only become more difficult if we don’t tackle climate change and increasing environmental concerns.

VetPartners Farm Director Ian Cure believes that vets, as farmers’ most trusted advisors, have a huge role to play in supporting sustainable and regenerative farming practices. Here, he explains why….


FARMING sustainably is vital to allow us to continue to produce food for a growing population whilst reducing the impact on the planet. Agriculture is under a lot of pressure and, as a large animal vet, I see it as one of my duties to help shed some light on all sides of the environmental challenge we are facing.

For example, carbon footprinting is widely used in the agricultural sector to measure a farm’s  greenhouse gas emissions, but currently the role our farms can play in carbon storage is underrepresented in many available tools.

As an industry that has the potential to mitigate some of the impacts of climate change, this area is an exciting frontier for further research. Farming not only has the capacity to produce quality food, but also be a positive influence from an environmental perspective.

VetPartners’ aim is to support our vets with the required skills to advise our farm clients on how best to enhance efficient food production whilst delivering for the environment.

Improving the efficiency and productivity of their farming enterprises will in most cases lead to a reduction in their environmental impact for every unit of food they produce.

As farm vets, we are impartial, trusted professionals. We can help consumers to understand where their food comes from and encourage them to support local, sustainable food production that can provide ecosystem services for public health, such as carbon sequestration, clean air, water and improved biodiversity. In doing so, we can help to support the farming businesses that rely on our services to make sure they are best equipped to meet these environmental targets.

Preventing disease can have a significant impact in terms of reducing the environmental effects of food production.

As farm vets, it is important we support this.

The role a vet plays in supporting farm businesses is evolving all the time and treating sick animals, whilst still vital to support excellent animal welfare, should become a smaller and smaller part of the day to day.

The aim is to optimise farm efficiency and productivity through disease prevention by looking after the health and welfare of the animals.

We must deliver an evidence base with which to support our clients. This means collecting accurate and relevant information in a timely way on farm.

I regularly sit down with farmers and discuss health, welfare and productivity data that provide us with insights into the overall efficiency of their farming enterprise, and reviewing  what changes we made in the way we aim to prevent disease and improve production.

We have moved on from purely preventing disease, and it’s about optimising efficiency in the production cycle. How do we produce more milk from the same or less inputs? How do we increase daily liveweight gain without increasing feed? Doing this both increases profitability and reduces the carbon intensity of production.

A lot of the information is already available and, for the bits that aren’t, that’s where we have a role as vets. With our scientific backgrounds, collating and presenting data to farmers in a way that is usable and intuitive is a key role we have for the future.

Increasing our engagement may also lead to increasing veterinary costs – a double edged sword for a farmer.

My role is making sure that that increasing investment made by the farmer is rewarded with them having more saleable products for the same overheads, therefore making their business more profitable and environmentally sustainable.

By advising farmers on changes at herd level as well as at an individual level, we maximise the impact that our intervention can have. This means despite our visits to farms focusing around individual animals or groups of animals, it’s important to have regular touch points with the whole farming system and groups within it.

My goals for the near future involve how I can take data that we have from our farms and repurpose it in a way that provides an understanding to the public about what sustainable food production looks like.

For example, is locally reared beef more sustainable than imported tofu? How many people know that grazers such as cattle and sheep are not only a hugely important food source, but can also be used to control invasive plant species.

This isn’t a blame game, it’s about everyone understanding their impact on the environment, and if we can strive to make food production as efficient as possible, then we are helping agriculture reduce its impact on the environment.


Ian qualified from Glasgow Vet School with a passion for farm animal work. He c0-founded LLM Farm Vets in Lancashire in 2008. He gained the Diploma in Bovine Reproduction in 2012. His veterinary interests amongst others include fertility, lameness and nutrition. Ian has been VetPartners Farm Director since 2019.