Progression through Teamwork

Blackdown Farm Vets are an independent, farm only practice, strongly committed to providing you with a proactive and tailored service. We will strive to make your business as profitable and efficient as possible. Our experienced and local team cover East Devon, South Somerset and West Dorset.

01404 819150

Latest news

Summer 2024 Newsletter

Welcome to the Blackdown Farm Vets Summer newsletter! It’s good to finally see animals out in the field after so much wet weather, hopefully Summer

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Spring 2024 Newsletter

Welcome to Blackdown Farm Vets Spring Newsletter! After the very cold weather we have had this past January, the current warmer spell hints that Spring

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Autumn 2023 Newsletter

Welcome to the Blackdown Farm Vets Autumn Newsletter! As the nights are drawing in, we can reflect on an incredibly busy few months. As always,

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Who we are

The Blackdown Farm Vets team have a combined total of more than 80 years experience within farm animal health. All our team are either Devon Born or long established in the local community.

We aim to provide our clients with a high level of dedicated service with the intention of making your farm as profitable as possible. We believe relevant experience, combined with thorough, up to date knowledge is the key to delivering this.

Paul Neilson BA, FCA
Paul Neilson

Business Director

Paul is a Chartered Accountant who qualified in 1989 with the then Price Waterhouse in Bristol before moving into industry. He has worked at Director level since 1991 in large and small companies across multiple sectors. Paul is passionate about providing excellent client service by engaging with them fully. 

Since the business started, Paul wants the business to develop with real client focus, sustainably. He is one of Blackdown’s Business Directors, responsible for Governance, Finance, Advisors, plus anything else needing support to make the business work for our clients’ benefit. 

Paul moved to East Devon in 2001 from the Isle of Man with his wife and family to their smallholding, keeping a diverse range of hens, rare breed pigs, is a keen beekeeper and has 2 dogs. Paul’s wife is a Nurse and his sons are a Small Animal Vet and Environmental Health Officer.

One thing you might know about Paul is that he is a Trustee Director of the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust but doesn’t really like riding.

Fiona Jones, Practice and Dispensary Manager at Blackdown Farm Vets
Fiona Jones

Director, Practice Manager

Qualified in 1989 with an HND in Agriculture having also completed three years practical farming experience on dairy farms in Kent and Gloucestershire, and lambing seasons on a 1500 head flock in Powys Wales.

She then moved from the family home in Devon to Shropshire to work for an Agricultural Chemist, as an agronomist (BASIS) and animal health advisor (SQP) qualifying in 1992. 

In 2000 she became the Animal Health Product Manager for the Hutchinsons group managing and leading the animal health business within the company.

Returning home in 2014 to be closer to the family in East Devon, she became involved in the veterinary world bringing her years of experience on the merchant side to the advising, ordering, and dispensing of veterinary medicines. 

Her passion for animal health and livestock was then truly realised with the foundation of our dedicated farm vets team as Practice Manager and Business Director responsible for the overall running of the business.

The best part of her role is liaising and working with an incredible team, from the suppliers to the amazing, supportive clients making every day fun and bringing a different challenge. 

In her spare time, she enjoys being outdoors either riding her horse or out walking with family and friends.

Sam Bowker
Samuel Bowker

Veterinary Surgeon

Sam graduated from Cambridge University in 2015, and spent 4 years in Cheshire (as well as a 6 month stint in New Zealand) before coming back home to East Devon.

Sam splits his time between practicing as a vet and being involved with the family dairy farm, a 220 autumn block calving unit.

He is passionate about proactive health planning by using data to drive on-farm decision making,and has a keen interest in business management having completed an extra business degree at university.

Sam’s particular interests lie in the management of block calving dairy herds, improving lameness in dairy cattle and working collaboratively with the farm team to drive improvements. Sam is an AHDB Mobility Mentor, ROMS accredited Mobility Scorer, and BCVA BVD and Johnes advisor.

Outside of work, Sam enjoys spending time with his young family, playing tennis and being involved with the local church.

Lottie Birchall
Charlotte Birchall

Veterinary Surgeon

Lottie graduated from Liverpool University in 2014 and went to work at a farm animal practice in Cumbria for several years, gaining a wide variety of experience in dairy, beef and sheep work. She moved in 2017 to Devon and has worked in this area ever since.

Lottie loves all aspects of farm vetting and is happy to get stuck into any job. She has a real passion for calf health and dairy heifer rearing. She also enjoys working with suckler herds to improve profitability and heads up the Blackdown Suckler Herd Health Package.

Lottie plans to start studying for a Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice in the near future. She is a BCVA Johnes, BVD and TBAS advisor, as well as a qualified Mental Health First Aid Champion.

Outside of work, Lottie is kept busy looking after her young family and helping to run her husband’s local fabrication business. If time allows, she loves to get out on the water paddleboarding or surfing.

Tom Laycock

BSc BVMS CertAVP (cattle) MRCVS
Veterinary Surgeon

Devon born Tom spent a year and two summers milking and working on dairy farms before gaining a degree in Agriculture in 2006. He then studied and qualified as a Vet from Glasgow University in 2011. Tom returned to the west country to work in East Devon and West Dorset and loved it so much he is still here now.


In 2016, Tom travelled with his wife to New Zealand working and improving his calving expertise and gaining knowledge in grass based dairy systems during the spring calving season, as well as picking up a few other little wrinkles.


Tom’s main areas of interest include cattle fertility, mastitis, youngstock rearing, lameness and beef. Tom has run numerous farmers meetings and farm walks over past years including his highly successful ‘young farmers discussion group’.


Tom likes walking to anywhere with a view. He also enjoys playing saxophone and clarinet at church. Tom is married and has two young daughters. Tom holds a certificate in advanced veterinary practice in cattle (CertAVP(CATTLE) and is a BCVA Johnes, BCVA BVD advisor and a Milksure trainer.

Lucy Morgan, Veterinary Surgeon at Blackdown Farm Vets
Lucy Morgan

BSc BVet Med Cert AVP (Cattle) MRCVS
Veterinary Surgeon

Lucy qualified from the Royal Veterinary College, London in 2002 having also completed an intercalated degree in Animal Agriculture. Lucy has worked in farm animal and mixed practice in the Southwest of England for the majority of her career. She spent 9 months working in New Zealand in a dairy cattle and sheep practice. She has worked in Australia and in dairy cattle practice in Cheshire before returning to East Devon in 2010, squeezing time in to complete her Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice in Cattle in 2016.

Lucy loves all aspects of being a farm animal vet from dairy herd fertility and mastitis to surgery, bull and ram fertility testing, and investigating and controlling infectious diseases. She also has an interest in small ruminants.

Believing passionately that each farm is different and that the approach to improving animal health should be tailored to the farm rather than one size fits all reflects the fact that after over 20 years in practice, she still loves scanning a cow in calf or a successful lambing!

Lucy spends a lot of her spare time looking after her three kids and helps out with her parents’ small flock of sheep.

Lucy is a BCVA TB, BVD and Johnes Advisor, a TBAS advisor, a Milksure Trainer and a ROMS accredited mobility scorer.

Nicola Hinman, Veterinary Surgeon at Blackdown Farm Vets
Nicola Hinman

Veterinary Surgeon

Born and raised in Axminster, Nikki (Nik) graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2016. After qualifying, she worked in mixed practice in Dorset for nearly 3 years before returning home to pursue her passion for farm work.

Nikki loves all features of farm animal medicine but is especially interested in genetics, calf health, preventative medicine, and cattle fertility work. She is trained in bovine embryo transfer and is developing this as a service. She would love to study for the Diploma in Bovine Reproduction in the future. Nikki is a BCVA Johnes advisor.

In her free time, Nikki can usually be found gardening, painting, or helping out at home on the dairy farm with her dog, Chief. She has her own small herd of pedigree Herefords with her partner Phil. She was an active member of Axminster Young Farmers until she got too old but still likes to support them wherever she can.

William Goulden, Veterinary Surgeon at Blackdown Farm Vets
William Goulden

Veterinary Surgeon

Originally from Northern Ireland, Will qualified from Glasgow University in 2014 and has specialised in farm animal medicine in East Devon ever since. He completed the Diploma in Bovine Reproduction in 2022 through Liverpool University. Along with fertility management, he has a particular interest in housing and how this can be used to help improve animal health and performance.

Will is well known in the area as having been captain of Honiton Rugby Club 1st team in 2019, winning the RFU Senior Vase at Twickenham, beating Northallerton RUFC. He is currently actively involved in farming, keeping his own commercial flock of sheep and rearing beef stirks. This helps to give him a practical insight into the beef and sheep industry and flock management.

Will is a ROMS accredited mobility scorer and a BVCA Johnes and BVD advisor.


Megan Loach
Megan Loach

Veterinary Surgeon

Originally from the Isle of Wight, Megan graduated from Bristol University in 2018. Megan then travelled, working in New Zealand, the Cook Islands and Australia with a brief stint back on the Isle of Wight before joining Blackdown. 

Megan has worked with all animals, though predominantly dairy cattle and her main interests in this area are fertility and young stock. Megan loves a progressive approach and has just completed a Lantra accredited “A veterinary approach to sustainable food and farming” course with Vet sustain. She’s looking forward to working with our clients and loves a coffee, biscuit and chat after a job. 

Outside of work, she is either in/ on/ under the water, hiking or playing netball for a team in Honiton.

Lance Willis

ATT (Approved Tuberculin Tester) and Technician

Born, raised and still in Wambrook, Chard, Lance has always been local to the area.

After leaving school he completed a joinery apprenticeship and ran his own business for 20 years. However, his passion has always been outside working with animals. Over the years Lance has worked on several local farms covering all aspects of farm work, milking cows and even goats!

Lance completed his ATT (Approved Tuberculin Tester) training in 2021 and is thoroughly enjoying the career change.

Audrey Dicks
Audrey Dicks


Audrey has lived in East Devon all her life. After selling her dairy cows many years ago she continued to run a small flock of sheep. She then went into the administration side of veterinary life and since joining Blackdown she is happy to be back working with the farmers. 

She still has a few pet sheep and goats, also lots of poultry and a large garden to keep her busy when not at work. 

Her hobbies include gardening and baking, sewing and stitch craft in the winter.

What we do

We want your business and animals to thrive. Our whole team is passionate about providing an excellent, evolving service, tailor-made for your farm (whether it be dairy, beef, sheep, goats or any other farm species) and at the very best price we can offer.

Work with us

We are passionate about providing a proactive service. We aim to develop health planning so that, not only does it satisfy regulations and inspections, but, far more importantly, we can use it to empower our clients to make decisions which improve welfare and drive profit.

Work with Blackdown Farm Vets

All our vets have lived and worked in the area for many years. Our experienced team will tailor our approach to your business to guarantee that you get as much or as little input as you require. We would be very happy to talk to you about how we might work together and your requirements as a business. Have a chat with one of our vets on 01404 819150, drop us an email or pop in for a cup of tea.

Our practice manager Fo is a qualified RAMA (SQP) advisor and has worked in the agricultural industry for over 30 years. She is on hand to share practical advice and knowledge on medicines, wormers, vaccines and anything else you might require.

We are dedicated to supplying competitively priced quality medications to ensure the health and productivity of your farm.

A member of our team will always be on the other end of the line and we will endeavour to help you as soon as we can. Call us on 01404 819150. We want you to be satisfied that you can always contact a vet when you need one.

We are investing in our IT systems to aid us in studying your farms performance to the best of our ability. Using Vet It, Interherd Plus and Uniform Agri helps us analyse the data to help you. We will develop this area as time goes on.

Blackdown Farm Vets try to provide the best service we can to our clients. We aim to continually improve and further expand what we can offer our client base. We will always be open to hearing fresh ideas and challenges given to us by our valued clients, we will always welcome feedback.

Contact us

We’re on the Blackdown Hills, between the A30 and A35.

01404 819150