VET’S DIARY: All the hard work has been worth it

Most of our time as farm vets is spent doing routine work such as pregnancy diagnosis, blood sampling and fertility testing, writes Steve Carragher.

The stereotypical image of a farm vet with their hand up the back end of a cow is actually fairly accurate.

The vet is very much a part of the management team of each farm, all-working together to improve the health, welfare and productivity of the livestock.

So, unusual cases do tend to stick in the memory.

One such case occurred late one evening this June when a farmer noticed a disturbance among a group of in-calf heifers.

To his horror, one of the heifers had become spooked and had managed to rip almost the entirety of the skin off one side of her flank from elbow to groin.

Needless to say, this was a veterinary emergency and it wasn’t long before on-call vet Claire was on the farm attending to the heifer.

On examination, it was clear that the skin deficit was too great to consider suturing so meticulous cleaning and removing of contaminated material was necessary in order to improve what small chance of recovery this heifer had.

In these early stages, euthanasia was considered, as the wound was so extensive, none of us could believe this heifer could survive the ordeal, let alone hold onto her unborn calf.

However, the heifer remained remarkably calm throughout the procedure, giving hope that she could recover.

Months of convalescence have passed with regular operations to aid the healing process.

I have just returned from visiting the farm and can now report that the heifer has recovered extremely well.

The skin is healing over without infection and the heifer has held on to her calf, being due to calve down very shortly.

So, while herd and flock health and productivity is the main role of the modern farm vet, it is often the unusual cases which provide the most satisfaction.

The farmer has persevered for months with this difficult case and now finally it appears that all the hard work has been worth it.