Variety is the spice of life as a farm vet


One of the great things about being a vet in farm practice is that no day is ever the same. There is a constant variety of species and procedures set against the background of the ever-changing agricultural year. Early lambing of pedigree ewes at Christmas merges with spring calving in February and March. Easter sees the end of lambing but the beginning of issues with growing stock. These extend into the summer until the flushing and tupping of breeding ewes and autumn calving bring us back to Christmas and the cycle begins again.

You never know what species or challenges a day will bring. A typical day can start off with routine cattle testing or fertility work. Then emergencies with great old names, such as ‘milk fever’, ‘grass staggers’, ‘frothy bloat’ and ‘August bag’, can come in for our attention. A morning calving can be followed by the routine trimming of a goat’s feet or removing the tusks from a pet pig. The afternoon could see you presented with a poorly backyard hen or a pen of sick pheasants. Later that night, when you are on-call, there might be an emergency lambing or sheep caesarean that you need to attend.

There is no getting away from the fact that farm vets will always be on a rota to cover out-of-hours emergencies. The working environment on farms can also be cold, wet and very draughty. But driving back from a successful cow caesarean in the early hours of the morning, with the sun rising over beautiful countryside, has its own rewards.

Farmers, like any other clients, vary in their demands and expectations of their vet. However, enthusiasm, professional knowledge and a willingness to get stuck in will usually win them around. Overall, farm practice is sometimes tiring but seldom boring. 

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