About Farm Homeopathy
In the UK only a vet or its owner may legally treat an animal with homeopathy. There are only about 50 homeopathically qualified vets and of these, fewer than a dozen are in farm practice. All this leaves the farmer struggling, encouraged to use a system he does not understand, yet discouraged and unsupported by conventional vets and helped only by a few books and on-line articles. Not only that, but most conventional farm vets are simply not trained in any alternative approach, with many struggling to even understand organic standards – the Lowe report observed that, while many small animal veterinary practices offer alternative therapies, farm practices offer no alternative expertise at all.
A programme* funded by the United States Department of Agriculture reports ‘the conventionally trained health-care professional’ ( ie vet) as not being trained, ie unable, to either help farmers reduce dependence on chemical treatments, or advise the farmer on the promotion of health as opposed to treatment of disease.
The HAWL Course, is designed to educate and empower farmers to take an holistic approach to their health management. Holistic, means to look at the bigger picture and take a proactive and considered approach to health, rather than just reacting to problems. Using homeopathy to improve health is only one part of what the farmer can do to avoid disease. Good animal husbandry and management is really what it is all about, but even the best stock management cannot avoid or eradicate specific stresses placed on production animals. Homeopathy is a powerful tool when used correctly within the general health strategy, which is how HAWL teaches homeopathy, ie not to take the place of the farm vet, but as a part of good farming practice. A sick animal is not a profitable animal; much better to avoid problems.
* Reference. McCrory 2007 “Education to Extension Agents, Veterinarians, and other Professionals in Complementary Treatments and Preventative Health Management for Organic Livestock Farms” NESARE Professional Development Grant.
The HAWL course emerged out of founder Chris Lees’ studies at the Royal Agricultural College (now RAU) when she combined a childhood love of cows with three years study of homeopathy into a dissertation (below) on ‘The role of homeopathy in the treatment of the farm animal‘.
Her research at this time revealed that, for farmers who chose to explore or use homeopathy, success was limited as support was more or less non existent, and there were no courses available to help them learn about the subject.
So why the need for a farm homeopathy course?
Farmers receive conflicting advice; the government is anxious about food chain contamination and antibiotic resistances and asks conventional and organic farmers alike to reduce their dependence on chemical drugs, while vets cry welfare issues if antibiotics are withheld. Meanwhile farmers are bombarded with advertising supported by pharmaceutical companies, and vets practise ‘evidence-based medicine’ (EBM) while deriving a large percentage of their income from the sale of these products (Marsh Report 2001).
These conflicting requirements, to reduce the use of antibiotics and at the same time rely on EBM, have not been reconciled either in conventional or organic agriculture, and the issue needs addressing. Responsible farmers seeking alternative ways to address anti-microbial and vermicidal resistance, particularly those who must meet and maintain Organic Standards, are left with little or no guidance on where to find the information or support they seek.
Part of Chris Lees’ original research included running a workshop for farmers who might be interested in using homeopathy. This attracted 32 farmers and a vet. Seven were not farming organically (which is probably a fair reflection of the ratio on HAWL courses today). Only two had a homeopathic vet. The only common factor within this group was that they were farmers and they were all prepared to put time and money into improving their animals’ health.
Asked why they had come, 88% voiced concerns about antibiotics, and 22% thought homeopathy was cheaper, although at that time no-one thought it would be more effective.
Asked why they had come, 88% voiced concerns about antibiotics, and 22% thought homeopathy was cheaper, although at that time no-one thought it would be more effective. But what was surprising was that there was a 100% consensus that homeopathy might be better for animal welfare; a serious contradiction to perceived wisdom at the time.
After this initial workshop over 60% of participants said they would like more advanced training, and from this interest, the seeds of the HAWL Farm Homeopathy Course were sown.
This encouragement, – plus that of farmers, vets and homeopaths Chris had met during her research, – led to discussions with the Prince of Wales’ farm manager, David Wilson. David felt there was a real need for a comprehensive course; that while there were introductory days on offer, there was no proper training in farm homeopathy, which he likened to constant hors d’oeuvres and no main course. Thus inspired, several homeopathic vets, homeopaths and educators came together to design a course aimed specifically at farmers, and in 2001 we ran our first official HAWL Course, attended by 15 farmers, from all over the UK.
Thus inspired, several homeopathic vets, homeopaths and educators came together to design a course aimed specifically at farmers, and in 2001 we ran our first official HAWL Course.
As we go into the 2020’s demand for HAWL courses continues to increase with more and more conventional farmers seeking out credible alternative health options for their livestock.
And in 2021, we started our first online course, delivering the exact same quality and scope of training, to farmers from across the world, including the USA, Canada, Germany, France, Ireland and all four corners of the UK - quite literally, having now trained farmers online all the way from the sparsely populated Isle of Berneray in the Outer Hebridean islands of Scotland, to the deepest depths of Cornwall These farmers from across the world would not otherwise have been able to attend the course, and so we see this an very welcome but unexpected success to come out of the lockdowns.
Chris has produced another paper on Farm Homeopathy entitled, 'Farm animal health can be improved by farmers who understand and apply the principles of classical homeopathy: An enquiry into the experience of farmers using classical homeopathy as part of their overall health management strategy.'