National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

05 May 2020

Farmers are still working through the Covid-19 outbreak, which means so too are the people working in support functions, such as farm vets. Melissa Bexon, from Uttoxeter YFC shares her experience of supporting farm animals and the industry during the crisis.

Q. Why did you want to be a farm vet?

Being a farmer’s granddaughter, I spent most of my weekends at the farm when I was growing up, helping feed the cows and collecting freshly laid eggs. As I grew older, I got more interested in science but still wanted to stay within the animal sector so decided a veterinary career was the way forward. To get into vet school, I had to do several work experience placements, including lambing, milking and calving. There was something about the ethos of farming that I was drawn towards and so getting accepted into the University of Nottingham helped me achieve what I set out to do.

Q. What is an average day like for you?

No day is the same. There isn’t really an average week, let alone an average day. Obviously pre-booked in visits like routine fertility visits and herd/flock health planning shape a lot of what I do on a weekly basis (not forgetting TB testing!), but you can never plan for the emergency work like caesareans and prolapses. To say it is varied work is an understatement!

Q. What changes have you had to make to your work during the Coronavirus?

I work for Westpoint Farm Vets, which are 100% farm-only (and also owned by VetPartners who are responsible for the care of 20% of farm animals in the UK). The organisation has been exceptional and has provided clear guidelines for new working measures (in line with advice from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the British Cattle Veterinary Association).

All clinical vets are going out on visits from their own homes (the same as if they were on call). We have had to restrict visits to the ones that are classed as essential – i.e. where animal welfare is implicated if we do not go, routine fertility visits and TB testing – anything pertinent to the food chain.

One major thing that we are having to take into serious consideration when going onto farms is adhering to the 2m social distancing regulations and playing our part in helping stop the spread of the virus. This does mean that we have had to adapt what we would normally do, for example, haltering calves for TB testing, rather than have someone hold them.

Q. How do you feel about working in an essential role during the Coronavirus outbreak?

I feel that, as vets, we only play a minor role during this coronavirus outbreak. Yes, we are tending to sick animals that require treatment, or tending to emergency calls, but it is the farmers that are producing the food for our plates. We just help with that wherever we can – be that by doing fertility visits on dairy (and beef) cows, or pre-movement testing animals to be sold for future breeding.

I am very conscious that for many farmers, a vet such as myself could pose the biggest threat to bringing them into contact with coronavirus, so I ensure I wear appropriate PPE, clean and disinfect my equipment thoroughly and maintain social distancing as well as I possibly can. It is a scary time for us all, but we have to work together and keep the country ticking over.

Q. How do you feel about the essential role British farming is playing throughout the crisis and are you proud to be supporting the industry?

I am extremely proud and privileged to support such a strong and dynamic industry. I believe that all farmers, no matter what they are farming, should be recognised for their hard work and dedication that they put into their jobs, their livelihoods 24/7, 365 days a year. Without farmers we would be in a much poorer position and be looking to face much harder times. What I would stress is, we need to all pull together during these uncertain and difficult times and do as much as we can to support British farming.

Q. Have you kept in contact with your YFC and how are they staying connected to members?

Yes I have, I am part of the club committee so our group chats are still ongoing. Many of my friends are either current or past members of YFC, so I do regularly keep in touch with them. Not only this, my sister is the secretary of Uttoxeter JNFU and her boyfriend is the chairman, so I talk to them over WhatsApp to keep in touch.

If you are a key worker and a member of a YFC and would like to be profiled, please email media@nfyfc.org.uk


Social


Designed by Kevyn Williams