Winter has arrived in Devon and the vets are busy on call. Jennifer Hall will be working over the Christmas weekend, and has already taken on some projects for 2012.
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It seems winter has really found its way to Devon in the past week; rain and wind have been the name of the game, and I've perfected the art of putting on my waterproofs in the side compartment of my Ford Transit to try to keep dry. My winter tyres were fitted this week in preparation for potential ice and snow, and I've noticed a big difference in the van's grip on the muddy roads and farm tracks. I'd recommend them to anyone who hasn't got a four-wheel drive.
There's been an increase in work intensity this month since the cows have been housed. Not only are farmers keen to have TB testing done now that the animals are close to hand, but animals seem to get sicker when they're indoors. We've seen a lot of cases of pneumonia and, recently, in some of the outdoor herds we've had cases of postcalving staggers (hypomagnesaemia).
Allied to work, I've taken on some projects for the New Year. I've agreed to teach a session at the local agricultural college on ‘Vets and the industry’, and am running a fluke workshop for local sheep farmers. My colleague, Jenny, and I have also begun working on a smallholder project comparing the service we give to our smaller livestock customers with that offered to the large farm clients. The idea is to help smallholders improve the welfare of their flocks and/or herds by running a series of talks and providing information sheets. In addition, Jenny, provides answers to readers' questions in Smallholder every month.
I'm on call for the Christmas weekend, which, to be honest, is not too much of a hardship as I can still go home to my parents, who live relatively close by. However, I know there are many new graduates and young vets whose job will not allow them to be at home this Christmas. For them, I would agree with what Chris Booth said in the Young Vet Network column in this month's BVA News (VR, December 3, 2011, vol 169, p 618). You are not alone – make sure that there is back-up for you if you need it. If you are called out, my advice would be to let your back-up know where you're going, even if you don't think you will need them. There's no point getting halfway through a calving and then deciding to call them out of the blue, when they may be tucking into their umpteenth glass of wine! They'll be much more willing to come and help if you keep them in the loop. Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year!