After a three-month summer break, during which she gained experience working in a livery yard, a dairy farm and a mixed practice, Rosie Perrett is back at Liverpool vet school and continuing to share her experiences with Vet Record Careers.
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The three-month summer ‘holiday’ has come to an end – I'm back in Liverpool and settled in to my new room in rented accommodation. We have already had a ‘no hot water’ incident, as I found out at 7 am on Monday morning, our first day back. Despite that, it is nice to be back in a house and to be able to cook and bake. I've found both are very good ways to de-stress.
Looking back over the summer, I genuinely can't think where the time went, but I am ready to get back into the swing of things at university.
During the last month of my summer break, I worked as a groom at my local riding stables or was on placement . . . . well, I was supposed to be. The time with the horses was spent plaiting, beautifying and tacking-up for a week up in Lincolnshire for the under 25s dressage championships. It was a successful week but very tiring, and by the time I was home and relaxing, it was no time at all before my alarm was going off at 6 am to start a two-week dairy placement.
I couldn't have chosen a better dairy farm. The family were lovely and the herd calves all year round, so I managed to experience every aspect of the dairy farm – calving, bottle feeding, milking, foot trimming, artificial insemination, pregnancy diagnosis scanning, bulling, hygiene, feeding, drying off, milk testing, slurry work and dealing with low yielders, high yielders, costings, and so on.
It was a true information overload, but brilliant, and I even managed to choose the two weeks of the entire summer when it didn't rain. Genius!
I wasn't particularly nervous around the cows; I thought it much better just to get stuck in if I was to learn anything. A few cows here and there thought I was far too small to be ordering them in a certain direction but, by and large, I was fine. The more I worked with them, the more confidence I gained. Needless to say, like my lambing placement, my favourite aspect was the calf feeding. The calves are kept in individual ‘hutches’ next to each other and they all have their own feeding requirements depending on their age; for example, colostrum, milk powder, silage, or calf cereal. The one downside to the two weeks was the smell of cow poo – it really does get everywhere. I felt it was still lingering when I headed down to the pub in the evening, even after washing and putting on fresh clothes. (I've been told cow smell isn't half as bad as pig!)
After my dairy farm placement, I spent a single week at a busy mixed practice that I'd been to previously. However, two days in I found myself with abdominal pain and was referred to my local district hospital with suspected appendicitis. This really wasn't the week I had planned but I thought, looking on the bright side, it was still technically a ‘clinical’ setting. The vets were very understanding and after 48 hours I was sent home with an inconclusive result. To this day, I still have my appendix, and I just hope that whatever caused the pain doesn't come back.
My plan is to ease myself in gently and take the first term of second year a little easier than I did last year, but, hopefully, I'll be fit to contend with another year of vet school.