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What is the future of cattle veterinary practice?
  1. Jonathan M. E. Statham
  1. Bishopton Veterinary Group/RAFT Solutions, Mill Farm, Ripon, UK
  1. email: jonathan{at}

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We live in a rapidly changing world, and the veterinary profession is changing along with it. The globalisation of markets, climate change, antimicrobial resistance (AMR), accelerating technologies such as artificial intelligence and a disconnect between rural farming communities and urban populations represent great challenges for traditional cattle farming, and, therefore, for cattle veterinary practice.

Reflection on the future of large animal veterinary practice is not a new phenomenon. Ten years ago, the Lowe report1 specifically explored the dynamics and challenges in the sector. Areas of concern highlighted then included the future retention of farm vets, the differing roles required of livestock vets in practice and potential business models for the future. Given the recent publication of the EAT-Lancet2 and IPCC Climate Change and Land3 reports, are these still the key areas of concern?

In a paper summarised on p 205 of this issue of Vet Record, Woodward and colleagues review insights from a qualitative study investigating the future of cattle veterinary practice and future strategies for veterinary education.4 Six key areas of focus were developed from thematic analysis of telephone interviews with 12 key opinion leaders (KOLs) within the cattle farming and veterinary sectors: veterinary business structure, veterinary practice income, collaboration, the changing role of the cattle vet, the vet-farmer relationship and the new generation of cattle vets.

Interestingly, the five cattle farming KOLs did not consider four of these themes: veterinary business structure, collaboration, veterinary practice income and the new generation of cattle vets.4 This suggests that there may be a mismatch of expectations between cattle farmers and vets. Such a mismatch has also been described when comparing the perceived value of veterinary involvement in intensive herd health programmes.5

As well as highlighting areas of current concern, …

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