Merial vets put their best foot forward for Farm Africa

In total, the group aims to walk over 70,500 miles and raise £15,000 for Farm Africa
In total, the group aims to walk over 70,500 miles and raise £15,000 for Farm Africa

A group of 100 farm vets and staff from Merial Animal Health have walked over 26,000 miles, which is more than twice the length of the Great Wall of China, in a steps challenge that raises money for charity Farm Africa.

The challenge is part of Merial’s #CALFMATTERS calf pneumonia vaccination awareness campaign.

In total, the group aims to walk over 70,500 miles and raise £15,000 for Farm Africa, a charity which helps farmers and communities in developing countries by giving the advice and products they need to lift themselves out of poverty.

So far the challengers have covered one fifth of their total target, and completed the equivalent of several iconic distances including the Appalachian Trail, Lands End to John O’Groats, and ‘virtually’ crossed entire countries including Australia, China and Japan.

The participants have committed to the challenge by upping their physical activity. Merial has provided them with Fitbit fitness trackers to record their daily steps, which count towards the virtual teams’ total progress. The goal is 141 million steps in 20 weeks.

'Highest steppers'

Robert Smith of Farm First Vets is one of the highest steppers of the group.

He recently scaled Ysgyryd Fawr (The Big Skirrid), one of the Black Mountains in Wales’ Brecon Beacons, for the challenge and says: “I used to think of myself as a coiled spring ready for action, but the steps challenge has forced me to realise there is plenty of scope to increase my activity levels significantly. Hopefully when it is all over I will see the benefits and feel physically fitter for it.”

Robert has taken the challenge one step further by encouraging his wife, two daughters, and Farm First Vets practice staff to join him in the challenge, with an added incentive.

Between now and the BCVA Congress on 19th October, Farm First Vets will donate £50 to Farm Africa for every member of Robert’s team who completes the #CALFMATTERS challenge.

Send a cow

Additionally, for every member of staff that achieves an average of 10,000 or more steps per day, the practice will donate £50 to XL Vets’ and BCVA 50th Anniversary charity, Send a Cow.

Vets involved in the challenge say the #CALFMATTERS campaign and the steps challenge has given them the opportunity to raise awareness of calf health and antimicrobial use with farmers.

Tim Potter of Westpoint Farm Vets says: “With the current pressure on the industry to reduce antimicrobial levels we have been doing a lot of work to benchmark on farm usage and look at ways of reducing the need for treatment.

“Vaccination is one way we can hopefully reduce antimicrobial usage on farm and the #CalfMatters steps challenge has been a good way for us to engage with clients on the topic.”