Providing high quality input and advice in sustainable livestock production is at the heart of our business at RAFT Solutions.
We have ten members of the team with topic relevant post graduate qualifications; our team also includes three recognised RCVS specialists in Cattle Health and Production.
We have a long standing interest in supporting the industry; our team include past-Presidents of the British Cattle Veterinary Association, the Pig Veterinary Society and the Sheep Veterinary Association.
We consult widely including delivery in China, Turkey, Israel and Italy on cattle and pig production matters, as well as providing substantial input to UK production.
Within the RAFT team we have got over 30 peer reviewed publications, click here to see a list of our publications.
The RAFT team are supported by a strong vet delivery team based between the two partnering practices.
The Executive Board
MA VetMB DCHP MRCVS RCVS Recognised Specialist in Cattle Health and Production
RAFT Chief Executive, Jonathan Statham, graduated from Cambridge Veterinary School in 1996. He is also cattle vet & partner in Bishopton Veterinary Group, a 25 vet practice in Ripon, North Yorkshire (a member of XL Vets). Jonathan is Past President of the British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA) and the Yorkshire Veterinary Society (YVS). He has served on various representative & industry groups including the GB ‘Cattle Health & Welfare Group’ (CHAWG), Veterinary Policy Group (VPG) of the BVA and is a past director of Cattle Certification Standards (CHeCS). He is external examiner at Liverpool University and also a member of the Nottingham Dairy Herd Health Group, the ‘Farmskills’ steering group and the International Embryo Transfer Society. He serves on the Veterinary Residues Committee of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). Jonathan's main veterinary interests include reproductive technologies, nutrition, mastitis control and progressive herd health & production management. He holds the RCVS Diploma in Cattle Health & Production and is a RCVS recognised specialist in Cattle Health & Production.
Mike Gooding joined the RAFT Solutions Board in June 2017 as their Independent Chairman.
Mike is a Director at food and agriculture consultancy RCMG (Oxford) Ltd, has over 20 year’s senior management experience in the farming and food industries, building extensive knowledge in leading early stage companies and honing communication skills in the agriculture sector. Mike was also Managing Director of consultancy FAI Farms Ltd, Managing Director of Aria Foods and Director of European Sales & Marketing at Farmers First plc. A former student of Seale Hayne Agricultural College, he was Chairman of the 2013 Oxford Farming Conference and is currently an advisory panel member of the BBC Rural Affairs Committee.
BA (Hons) Dip IOD
Sophie is RAFT's Managing Director and looks after the company's development and delivery in this innovative period for UK agriculture.
Sophie's background is in public relations and project management with ASDA Wal-Mart, ZPR, Bishopton Veterinary Group and more recently at XLVets where she was until recently Chief Executive of the XLVets Training Services, which developed the FarmSkills, VetSkills and EquineSkills initiatives.
Sophie holds the Diploma in Company Direction with the Institute of Directors.
BVSc DCHP MRCVS
RAFT Executive Director Jon Reader, is involved in lots of consultancy and research work, with a particular interest in cattle lameness - in addition to being a busy farm vet. He holds the NPTC Level 3 certificate in cattle foot trimming, is a trainer for the DairyCo mobility mentoring scheme and holds the Diploma in Cattle Health and Production.
In September 2004 Jon began a 12-month sabbatical and was a crewmember on board the Samsung yacht in the Global Challenge round-the-world yacht race. He enjoys many competitive sports including rugby, hockey and golf and he completed the London marathon in 2004.
Our Sector Leads
Rachel is interested in all aspects of dairy and beef cattle, particularly mastitis, fertility and infectious disease. She carries out bull fertility testing and also enjoys working with goats.
Rachel graduated from Edinburgh in 1993 having also completed an Honours degree in Pathological Sciences. She obtained her Certificate in Cattle Health and Production in 1998.
She is married to Alastair and they live in Somerset with their three children.
Outside of work Rachel enjoys cooking, cleaning and providing a free taxi service. When not looking after the family she manages a bit of running and has dabbled in the odd triathlon.
Rachel is a BCVA Accredited Johne’s Veterinary Adviser
Mark is one of RAFT's Advanced Breeding leads at Bishopton, bringing his interest in bovine fertility, particularly on the male side, to the team.
Mark led RAFT's recent SemenRate research project, now available as a commercial service and is currently developing this research as poart of an MSc with Glasgow University.
Mark qualified from Liverpool Vet School in 2006 and joined Bishopton Vets straight from university having seen practice there. Marks main interests lie in herd health and cattle reproduction. Outside of work, Mark plays for Helperby in the Nidderdale cricket league enjoying some friendly rivalry with farm clients, plays rugby for Ripon in the winter and fits in an odd days shooting when possible.
BVSc DBR MRCVS
Neil is one of RAFT's Advanced Breeding lead at Bishopton, particularly interested in genomics, genetics and the female side of bovine fertility. Neil also holds the Diploma in Bovine Reproduction.
Neil is heavily involved in RAFT's research project with Paragon Veterinary Group looking at OPU and IVF in dairy cows and has set up our residential unit for cattle fertility work in Wetherby, near York.
Neil joined Bishopton Veterinary Group in July 2007 after graduating from Liverpool university. An upbringing on a dairy and sheep farm in Lancashire played a large role in him deciding to specialise in farm animal work. Neil still enjoys helping out at home when possible, especially showing, developing and marketing his own "Tristar" herd. Neil is currently vice chairman of the North East Holstein breeders club.
Aside of his interest in fertility, Neil's other area of interest is lameness and he is recognised Dairy Co mobility mentor.
Dr. André Northey
Dr Med Vet MRCVS
RAFT's Advanced Breeding lead at Synergy, Andre Northey, studied in Germany and South Africa and graduated from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) Munich in 2005. After graduation he was sponsored by the Federal German Research Authorithy and spent two years as an intern and research assistant at the Chair for Physiology and Pathology of Reproduction at the Clinic for Ruminants with Ambulatory and Herd Health Services of the LMU Munich. His intensive research on bovine mastitis lead to publishing several articles in international scientific journals, presenting posters and giving lectures at international congresses and was finally awarded with a doctoral degree in 2010.
Between 2007 and 2009 he worked in cattle practice in Lower Saxony/Germany, before coming to the UK locuming for several farm animal practices in the South of England and North of Wales. Since 2012 he's been working with Synergy Farm Health. His main focus is on developing and establishing a bovine embryo transfer service. He is also responsible for the DIY AI courses and is part of the surgical and reproductive clinical development groups.
BVSc MSc MRCVS Veterinary Assistant
Kat is an active part of our RAFT Research team, having joined us in August 2014 from Liverpool Vet School where she also gained her MSc. Kat has already been involved with projects from mycotoxins to studies on chlamydia like organisms and pig welfare monitoring.
Kat spends half of her time also working as part of the farm veterinary team at Bishopton Vets. Outside of work, Kat enjoys mountaineering and cycling; she also sings and plays the clarinet.
Nigel Woolfenden brings his substantial experience within the pig industry to RAFT. From a veterinary perspective, Nigel qualified with honours from Liverpool University in 1986. He worked in mixed large animal practice before specialising in pig medicine 10 years ago. Currently a partner with Bishopton Veterinary Group, a 15 vet team based in Yorkshire in the North of England, working full time with commercial pig herds, he has specific interests in preventive medicine, training pig farmers and managing health to optimise growth.
Nigel is past President of the Pig Veterinary Society, the Yorkshire Veterinary Society and a Director of Vetscore Ltd responsible for gathering abattoir surveillance data on behalf of the British Pig Health Scheme.
BVM&S DCHP MRCVS RCVS Recognised Specialist in Cattle Health and Production
Food Futures lead Alastair Hayton brings his considerable experience working with supply chains as a veterinary advisory to develop our sustainable food consultancy aims.
Alastair qualified at Edinburgh in 1993. After spending a period of time working in Cirencester he joined Kingfisher Veterinary Practice. In 1997 he attained a Certificate in Cattle Health and Production, and in 2003 the RCVS Diploma of Cattle Health and Production.Since 2009 he has been an appointed examiner for the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Diploma in Cattle Health and Production and received RCVS Specialist status in Cattle Health and Production in 2011. He is a member of the Nottingham University Dairy Herd Health Group. His areas of interest include all aspects of cattle medicine and husbandry, in particular nutrition, mastitis and organic production. In 2006 He was jointly awarded the Vetoquinol award for "Outstanding contribution to the Cattle Veterinary Industry". ” Alastair has authored a number of papers in the field of cattle health and is Co-author with Kat Bazely, also of Synergy, of “Practical Cattle Farming” published by Crowood Press.
Alastair is married to Rachel who is also a vet at Synergy Farm Health. He enjoys all sports and plays squash and mountain bikes whenever he is not injured!
BVM&S MBA MRCVS
Andy is RAFT's Training lead at Synergy, having had a keen interest in training and people development through his MBA and work as a director for XLVets Training Services.
Andy has also been a Director for Synergy Farm Health in 2011 and has extensive experience of grass managed dairy cows and is currently looking at ways to transfer knowledge from vets to dairy farm staff to allow improved decision making on farm. Andy is married and has 3 children and one dog. When time allows Andy is found on the water racing whatever boat he can find. Currently he pretends he can surf although the kids are now better than him letting him watch instead of instruct!
BVetMed CertCHP DipRN MRCVS
Phil is RAFT's Training lead at Bishopton, building on his experience as a founder member of the XLVets' FarmSkills initiative, which has now delivered practical skills training to over 12,000 farmers in the UK.
Phil's veterinary interests involve all aspects of cattle work, in particular dairy herd health management and suckler cow fertility. Phil has also provided technical input for a variety of industry bodies including Dairy Co and EBLEX.
The Delivery Team
Project & Programme Assistant
Harriet joined RAFT as Project and Programme Assistant in April 2014 having previously worked at a pharmaceutical contract research organisation where she gained experience of co-ordinating studies and working in a GCP/GLP regulated environment. Harriet helps keep our wide range of projects and programmes under strict control!
BA (Hons) Projects, Programmes and Office Assistant
Nicola joined RAFT in February 2016, after a big move to the North from the South. Nicola provides administrative support to the RAFT team in all areas of our research, advanced breeding, food futures and training sectors, as well as other administrative tasks to help RAFT run effectively. In her spare time, Nicola enjoys walking, baking and all things creative. A sewing or painting project is never far away!
BSc (Hons) MRes PhD
Katie joined RAFT Solutions in May 2015 from Liverpool University, where she had been involved in a number of projects relating to gene expression and metabolism. Her significant laboratory and research skills bring a high standard of rigour to our new SemenRate analysis service, which she will lead on with vet Mark Spilman, as well as to the practical research projects RAFT delivers.
BVSc CIM MRCVS
Laura leads our study proposal and reporting delivery at RAFT and is currently studying for her PhD at Nottingham University, looking at body condition scoring and lameness in dairy cows.
Laura has previously held roles as a vet in practice, and as a Brand Manager and Veterinary Advisor for Boehringer-Ingelheim where she also achieved her Chartered Institute of Marketing qualification.