A NORTH Yorkshire poultry veterinary practice has won national recognition for its commitment to support women within the industry.

Poultry Health Services (PHS), in Sheriff Hutton, was awarded the Employer of the Year Award at the first ever National Women in Agriculture Awards.

Veterinary director Dr Sara Perez received the accolade on behalf of PHS at a black-tie event at the House of Commons where the National Women in Agriculture Awards celebrated women who are making their mark in the industry.

Dr Perez, who became a director at PHS in 2018, is committed to developing the roles of women in a sector that has traditionally been male dominated. She leads a team of 25 dedicated poultry vets at PHS of whom more than half are female vets from diverse backgrounds and nationalities.

PHS is one of the UK’s largest specialist commercial poultry and game bird veterinary practices. Its expertise includes diagnostic testing, helping clients to maximise the health, welfare and productivity of their livestock while improving food quality and safety and contributing to the profitability of their businesses.

Headquartered in Sheriff Hutton, PHS has centres in Edinburgh, Preston, Tarpoley, Sutton Bonington, Shrewsbury, Leominster, Hereford and Devon as well as two laboratories in Scotland and Yorkshire.

The practice supports female vets returning to work following maternity leave by offering regular ‘keeping in touch days’, part-time and flexible working, as well as refresher clinical sessions. Single mums who might be struggling are also able to access support from its hardship fund.

New poultry vets are supported by a six-month internship programme while Dr Perez holds regular development sessions and events where she reviews clinical performance and cases. Colleagues also visit career fairs to encourage the next generation of poultry vets.

PHS have encouraged their female vets to become advisors and to get involved in national consultation groups with organisations such as the Food Standards Agency and the British Poultry Council. PHS also offers opportunities to improve skills through its Learning Platforms, with courses including Excel, health and safety, leadership, and mental wellbeing.

Dr Perez said: “I am delighted that our work and achievements to support women at Poultry Health Services have been recognised in these awards. Measures such as job sharing among the female members of our team have proven very successful as female employees can now retain their job, enjoy a good work-life balance and progress successful and fulfilling careers.”

In recognition of her leadership and development skills, Dr Perez received the Manager of the Year award in 2021 from VetPartners – the larger veterinary group of which PHS is a member.

It is not the first time PHS has been recognised in national awards. Vet Helena Brewer was a finalist in 2020 for the National Young Farm Vet of the Year Award in the National Egg & Poultry Awards which her colleague Emma King won in 2023. Emma also won the Outstanding Achievement Award in the 2024 Northern Farmer Awards.

The Women in Agriculture Awards were organised by Mark Allen Group, publisher of Farmers Weekly. Other awards were Sustainability Champion, Supply Chain Woman, Rising Star, Agricultural Influencer, Agricultural Advisor, Innovator, Training and Education Woman, Trade Organisation Woman, Business of the Year, Farming Woman and Lifetime Achievement Award.