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New graduate's diary
  1. Jen Hall


Jen Hall recently spent a day with Jules Hudson for BBC Radio 4′s Open Country programme. She describes how it gave her the opportunity to demonstrate the importance of vets' relationships with farmers in protecting animals and the countryside.

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WHEN the BVA called last week to ask me to take part in a radio programme, I jumped at the chance. Since I graduated from university last summer, I have spent all of my time working in farm practice, and this has strengthened my desire to ensure that UK agriculture is portrayed to the public in a positive light. The opportunity to talk about farm and veterinary relationships, as well as the changes that have occurred in the industry, meant a step in the right direction in informing people just how important agriculture is to our country.

On the day of recording we went to two farms. The first was a large organic dairy farm with a seasonal calving pattern; the other was an extensive beef farm on the edge of Dartmoor. The first call was a routine fertility check, as part of a preventive medicine programme to ensure good fertility in the herd. The second call was an emergency to see an individual animal, but the visit identified a potential disease in the herd that required further investigation. At this farm, the only time the whole herd is handled is for TB testing, so any further testing we might want to do would have to be timed to coincide with this. The two calls demonstrated nicely the different types of work we do as farm vets.

Jules and Jen on a farm in Devon

Picture: BBC Radio 4

One of the most interesting parts of the day was the interview with the herdsman on the large organic farm. Being relatively new to the industry, I am more familiar with the modern approach to farming, that is, large herds producing lots of milk. The farm manager explained that he used to work in the area when there were many farms, each with no more than 50 cows per herd – a far cry from his current 250-cow herd. As a result of this expansion, the type of veterinary input has changed, and we talked a lot about the many different contributors to the farm – nutritionists, vets, agronomists, farm consultants and about how a combined approach is necessary to ensure a welfare-friendly, productive and economically viable business.

The programme can be heard on BBC Radio 4 via iPlayer, on the following link:

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