‘Covid-19 has brought some positive changes to our way of working as farm vets’ – Leanne Forde

In this latest blog post, Leanne Forde, farm vet and Future Farmer, provides a fascinating insight of how veterinarians are adapting to the challenges thrown up by Covid-19.

I have now been qualified as a vet for eight years; for six of those I have been a purely farm animal vet for Bishopton Veterinary Group. I spend most of my time in the York area, but I also do health planning work across North Yorkshire.

My job is very varied; new challenges and opportunities are always presenting themselves. 2020 has posed the new challenge of a human health pandemic influencing the way in which we work in the veterinary profession.

During normal times as a vet, the considerations for carrying out procedures and visits are firstly animal health and welfare, and then the practicalities of the situation.

The health and safety aspects are usually due to the physical risks of working with livestock, and their unpredictability. During the Covid-19 pandemic, this has changed significantly. We have had to contemplate visits in a different way.

Leanne FordeOrdinarily, social distancing is the last thing on your mind when you are calving a cow or performing a caesarean section: it is all hands-on deck to deliver the calf.

However, this spring we have had to find ways of maintaining the two-metre rule whilst still having to carry out emergency procedures.

In some ways this has made the improvement of animal handling facilities even more essential and is something which will benefit everyone’s safety in the long run.

The health planning part of our job has also had to change, to stay within guidelines. One of the perks of health planning is sitting round the table with a big cup of Yorkshire Tea and some homemade baking, whilst chewing the fat about flock and herd health.

During lock down, entering farmhouses and receiving hospitality has not been allowed and so virtual meetings on the phone or online, and latterly socially distanced meetings in the barn have become the new normal. This may be great for a veterinary professional’s waistline, but not as good for their wellbeing!

Covid-19 has also brought some positive changes to our way of working as farm animal vets. Lockdown occurred during our busiest and my favourite time of year, lambing and calving season, and so there was plenty of emergency visits to keep us busy on farm. However, when not on farm we have had to work from home.

Traditionally, between visits we have landed back at the office to carry out paperwork tasks communally. Our team get on very well, so this was not always the most productive workspace! We have found that working from home we have less distractions and we are more efficient.

There is a lot of focus on wellbeing in the veterinary press and Covid has given us the opportunity to trial different ways of working to define a more positive new normal.

Adaptability is one of the core values at our practice and we want to be at the forefront of leading positive change in our profession. We pride our selves on long term client relationships with familiar vets and want to keep it that way.

Read more: A message from our chairman – Alastair Trickett

Read more: Pressing home the value of British food is timely challenge – Charlotte Middlebrook

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Alastair Trickett