Our dedicated RAMAs are always in-store and on hand to help you keep your livestock in tip top condition and the Newsletter team recently caught up with the man in charge.
Trevor Frost is recognised as one of the leading animal health advisors in the UK and he heads up our 300 RAMAs across the nationwide Mole Valley Farmers Group.
He began his career with us in 1976 and we spoke to him about how he feels the industry has changed and what the opportunities and challenges will be for 2023.
“I visit some of the largest ruminant enterprises across the country providing advice on all aspects of animal health and husbandry,” he said.
“The other part of my role involves supporting our national team of RAMAs, making sure we have the right number in the right place and organising courses for new candidates to get their qualifications.
“This involves mentoring and helping to build confidence. Gaining a RAMA qualification is a bit like passing your driving test, the learning really starts after you’ve passed.
“This is where Continuing Professional Development plays a vital role, as well as learning on the job. We are also very lucky we have some top flight RAMAs who pass on their experience.”
With about 30 new RAMAs going through in-house training, provided by Elanco, each year Mole Valley Farmers maintains its roster of approximately 300 nationally and Mr Frost has supported more than 500 employees as they successfully gain their qualifications.
The RAMAs also report to their line and store managers, but Mr Frost is always on hand to offer guidance, from asking for a second opinion or requesting advice on a specific challenge, to providing feedback on changes to the industry.
He said: “That line of communication is crucial and really sets us apart. By sharing across our teams, we can stay one step ahead of the game, providing advice even in areas where they may not yet have seen challenges.
“Fabulous services like NADIS and SCOPS provide up-to-date information, but it is always good to get those real-time updates from our colleagues in real situations.”
Mr Frost joined the Animal Health Distributors Association (AHDA) in 2002, taking an active role in shaping the industry and representing animal medicines distributors of all sizes, from leading agricultural supply companies like Mole Valley Farmers to smaller, proactive independent retailers.
And he has been championing RAMAs throughout his time in animal medicines, promoting responsible medicine use and professional prescribing.
The AMTRA RAMA qualification is today, quite rightly, much more challenging, with qualifications at least at Higher Education Level 4, and the farm and equine assessments now at Level 5, equivalent to foundation degree level.
Mr Frost added: “Training needs to be more challenging as we tackle growing concerns around wormer resistance and the need for responsible prescribing, including increasing the frequency and number of egg counts.”
Resistance to wormers is Trevor’s main concern, warning there will be no livestock industry if wormers stop working due to over exposure.
“Prescribing responsibly is the only way out of this and that relies on measuring and monitoring. If you don’t egg count, how do you know what you need and, more importantly, how do you know if it is working,” he said.
“It is not just ‘how,’ it is ‘when’ and ‘what’ to use. It is so important for animal owners to listen to their RAMA’s advice. It is crucial to value this free, sound advice in the future.
“One thing we do see now in the industry is a newer generation of farmer, thirsty for greater knowledge and more open to new approaches. We’re going to see a lot more change in the next five to ten years and we all need to work together.”