FARMING COLUMN: ‘Big team keeps show on the road’

BvetMed CertAVP MRCVS Director
Friars Moor Livestock Health

THIS month I wanted to look at the roles that make up a farm veterinary practice and thank our incredible team. Sometimes, being a farm vet is quite lonely, we drive around in the car by ourselves, often spending a long time on the road, but we do not work alone.

In James Herriot’s day I think it was just the vet and maybe his assistant, but these days there is a massive support network of people, without whom we could not function.

The reception team answer the phone – always with a cheery manner, handling calls to run the day efficiently and reduce driving time, book visits and meet the unreasonable demands of the vets(!). They are the eyes in the back of our heads, remembering what we forget and they require an encyclopaedic knowledge of Dorset’s farmers and geography.

We have data analysts collecting information from on-farm computer software programs, milk recording, mobility and body condition scores by our vet techs. They help design and produce reports for farmers and vets on efficiency, cost of production, fertility, mastitis, lameness, antibiotic usage, youngstock growth rates, the list goes on. They help us to meet the demands of a data driven world.

Our pharmacy manager, who keeps our cars stocked not just with everything we need, but ensures we don’t lose any of it with regular stock takes. She has the daily task of keeping up with product manufacturing issues and finding alternatives, checking pricing is competitive and ensuring the best service for farmers coming in to collect supplies. Our pharmacy receives daily deliveries of vaccines, wormers, anti-inflammatories and antibiotics according to demand, which are then distributed to farm orders and our other collection points in Blandford, Shaftesbury and Sherborne.

The clinical team is made up of vets, vet techs and TB testers. You can think of the vet techs a bit like the large animal equivalent of vet nurses. They have a broad range of skills and carry out tasks that support the vets. Our vet techs are ROMS mobility score trained and they carry our calf weighing, vaccinations, freeze branding, disbudding, sheep pregnancy scanning, offer assistance for TB testing and moving large numbers of animals. We have foot trimmers, who trim lame animals, whole herds or visit farms regularly on a weekly or fortnightly basis.

We have a phenomenal team of TB testers and in this area, where we are testing most farms every six months and several every 60 days, they play a pivotal role in the practice to free up vets for clinical tasks.

Finally the vets, a tiny cog in a big machine. We could not carry out our roles without the support of all the other team members mentioned, so next time you call to book a visit, take a minute to think about the whole team that have worked to make that possible and ensure you get the best service.

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