farm vets

Advanced Herdsperson's Course May 2014

The idea behind holding this course was simply that I had noticed that the best herdspeople seek to improve their skills with cows. They already have that "gift" which enables them to handle cattle naturally; to be able to recognise a sick cow in the distance based on a "gut feeling" rather than her level of dehydration; to spot a cow bulling just by her sniffing the air differently from usual. These are things that can't be taught and a gift which I always wish I possessed. But many herdspeople want to learn more advanced techniques and crave teaching around this subject. It occurred to me that there are things that I do every day as a vet, on which i had training at the best level and which I could effectively teach to such herdspeople in order to widen their skill-set.

So, the advanced herdsperson's course was born. Although I have taught many "bog standard" courses before, such as AI and foot trimming, I was more excited about teaching this course. I was conscious that the guys whom I was teaching were more skilled than I in their specific areas and I didn't want to teach them what they already know. I was also keen to encourage some knowledge transfer between delegates so that they could share experiences. 

I was very lucky as I had a very cool bunch of guys who all participated and also, without exception, showed great practical skills. There is nothing more rewarding than showing someone how to do something and then watching them perferct the technique almost immediately.

Thanks to all those who came along and watch this space for future similar courses.


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BVD Meeting 3 February 2014

We had a good turnout for our meeting on BVD control and eradication on Monday 3 Febraury; thanks to all those who turned out on a pretty miserable night. The take home messages were:


  • You can’t recognise a BVD persistently infected animal by just looking at it. So you can easily buy in either a persistently infected animal or a cow/heifer carrying a persistently infected calf.
  • If you vaccinate, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you are protected from infection causing problems in the herd, especially if your vaccination protocol isn’t water tight.
  • The best way to know your herd’s BVD status is to take bloods from a representative group of youngstock between 9 months old and vaccination age
  • If you successfully eradicate BVD from your herd, this doesn’t mean that vaccination should be stopped because you are still at risk from outside infection.
  • Eradicating BVD on a national level is certainly possible; it has been done successfully in other European countries. This is the direction in which the UK is now heading.


We hope you enjoyed the roast dinner served afterwards by Lethbridge Arms at Bishops Lydeard and thanks to “The National BVD Control Programme” for their sponsorship of this event.

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Is High Production Compatible with Good Fertililty

In October, I attended the BCVA Congress in Harrogate. This was a really interactive and interesting conference which I thoroughly enjoyed. One of the best lectures was from Stephen Le Blanc, on production and there a correlation and, if so, is it cause or effect? I was so fascinated by this concept that I felt the need to write an article on it! Have a look at it in this month's newsletter.

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Vet Clinical Club November

Thanks to Boehringer who sponsor our local Clinical Club meetings, last night, we had a really interactive and discussion-based talk from Owen Atkinson of Dairy Veterinay Consultancy.These meetings, which involve a few of the local practices getting together to hear a guest speaker talk about current farm/veterinary based topics, are always worth attending. I particularly enjoyed this presentation which focussed on potential models for the future of farm animal vetting. Owen based a lot of his talk on his Nuffield Scholarship and his experiences of visiting different countries. During his visits, he looked at the structure of dairy farming, the differences between dairy farming in various countries vs the UK system and, importantly, the farm veterinary industry in these countires compared to the UK.

Nobody has a crystal ball so we don't know excatlly what the future holds. However, we all agreed that the farm animal veterinay industry is about to enter a period of major change. In order to remain successful, forward-thinking practices may have to look at their business models and consider how best to develop them in order to continue bringing value to their large-herd dairy farms. This will ensure that, no matter which direction the industry is taken, the core business will remain viable and successful.

To read more on Owen's Nuffield Scholarship, see his website.

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South West Dairy Event 2nd October

After a slow start, at which point I was wondering whether it was worth all the effort to sort out the stand, this show was busy busy busy. From 10am onwards, we were pouring cider, handing out food and persuading people into filling in our free prize draw like it was going out of fashion. In fact, by the end of the day, I realised that I hadn't left the stand at all for the whole day. But it really was great to see so many of our clients as well as industry, farmers from the South West and young people interested in farming as a career. We have now published the photos under Photo Galleries. Click to view to see if you were caught on camera!

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Evolution Girls' night out

Last Friday evening, we did something that has never before been done at Evolution.....we had a girls' night out! The reason that this is a momentous occasion is that it is the first time we have had enough girls to have a purely girls night out with no boys needed to bolster numbers! Obviously, there are some plus points to having boys with us on a night out.....such as more cider drunk more quickly; louder; messier; less opporunity to be chatted up, the list goes on!

It was a very enjoyable night out which, considering we only initially went for a pizza, turned into quite a late one. We are lucky to have a lovely bunch of people at our practice who all get along so it was a great night. Roll on September when we all go out together (boys invited this time!!)

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We've got a Facebook page - do you LIKE it?

We've got a Facebook page for the practice. It's still new to us, but we are trying to put some interesting things on it. For instance, you can see us standing aloft our vans with the Quantock Hills in the background. And you can stay updated with all the events and happenings which we will announce on there as well as on the website.

We'd love to hear your feedback, so have a look and if you can think of anything you'd like to see on there, just let us know.

Evolution Farm Vets Facebook Page

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Honiton Show 1st August 2013

If you were comparing last years with this year's Honiton Show, one phrase that might spring to mind could, quite possibly be, "chalk & cheese". Given that Somerset is famous for its cheese & Cider (albeit some of its more ..... off beat ciders taste like chalk mixed with water and Kerosene) then this would be quite apt! That said, I think everybody will agree that this year was a much more pleasurable affair. Gone were the waterproofs & wellies, in were the sun hats sandals. I think it's safe to say that everybody enjoyed themselves & made the most of the sun.

Here at the Evolution tent, footfall was heavy & continuous. From mid morning onward the team were kept busy serving cups of tea (occasionally!) & pulling pints of gratefully received Thatchers Cider. This was the perfect refreshment to wash down the wonderful 'Pynes Butchers' pork pies & home made scrumtious fruit cake. This year we even had an on site water chiller which was a godsend to the teetotallers & designated drivers that passed our way.

The vets were kept on their feet too, with a real pot pourri of people dropping in, from existing clients & familiar faces to total strangers happy to chew the cud with a friendly face & some much welcomed refreshments!

The entertainment & side shows were as expected, up to their usual excedingly high standard. There was everything from high octane motorcycle displays to sedate (but fiercely competetive) horse & carriage displays.

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