Paper work! The bane of a farmers life, but necessary.
I had a request a while back to try and resolve some issues with medicine records. Homework for Shep, as I found myself trawling through my diary trying to work out when I had been on the farm, what we had been doing to the sheep and which medicines were used.
A farm inspection had revealed that the elderly farmer (an octogenarian) had not completed his medicine books for quite some while, really quite some while, and his son drafted me in to try and rectify the problem to the best of our abilities. Necessary paperwork was at the accountants, which did not help the job. Over a number of weeks efforts were made, paperwork returned, some invoices were found not to have a record of batch numbers etc, phone calls were made to the merchants, requests for computer records were made........... Blimey! what a palava! But a necessary one.
The powers to be who ran the checks on the farm were in a helpful mood on the day, giving time for details to be collated and recorded which was very generous as such oversights can result in hefty fines. The farmer was grumpy and didn't appreciate the interference, however, he mellowed and finally co-operated, was it the feminine touch? Amazing if that was the case as my patience was waning and I was beginning to think shaking him by the scruff of the neck may be the only option left, fortunately that wasn't necessary as like said, co-operation ensued.
All medicines given to livestock have to be recorded, in a medicine book, which is open to inspection by the powers that be without prior warning. It is a legal requirement. A must do. Age and personal issues had presumably seen this particular gentleman tire of the red tape surrounding his livelihood, understandable but not acceptable.
Medicine records aren't a simple procedure. You don't just write down "we dosed the sheep for worms on Friday" or "we injected a ewe with penicillin" Uh uh, not that simple I'm afraid.
Now Shep knew when products were used but not when and where they were purchased which is why accounts were looked through and papers were flying in all directions.
Am I hearing queries as to why all of this is necessary? Healthy food is the answer. No one wants to eat meat which has been pumped full of antibiotics, or still has residues of worm drench in it. Believe you me, British meat has got to be one of the healthiest options there is on the butchers/supermarket shelves as all medicines given to the livestock is recorded and nothing may enter the food chain until it is past withdrawal periods.
Now you may be thinking that if this farmer didn't have his records up to date he may well have put animals into the food chain whilst still in the withdrawal period. I can categorically say that this is not the case, he may be elderly, he may have got weary of the paperwork but he hasn't lost his marbles and would not jeopardise his livelihood to that extent, he was always aware of how long he would have to wait to sell something, buying doses for his lambs which only required a 3 day withdrawal enabled him to still hit the autumn sales.
Spot checks are made in our abattoirs to see if there are any traces of medicines in the meat which is being slaughtered, errors will be found.
Bet you didn't realise just how much effort goes in to ensuring the meat we eat is safe and healthy, no wonder some of us get annoyed at imported meat from far flung countries which have diseases we'd sooner not see on our shores, and relaxed regulations concerning the safe use of medicinal products. Bear that in mind the next time you're making a purchase over the meat counter, ask about country of origin and traceability, difficult I know in the present economic climate but important in reality.
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