African vets ready to answer Ireland's call
Donegal practice recruiting staff from Botswana
The worsening shortage of young cattle vets has forced one large practice in Donegal to look to the southern African state of Botswana for suitable staff.
Gerard Roarty of the Donegal Animal Hospital in Letterkenny said it was proving extremely difficult to hire Irish vets for big animal work and many practices were now looking to Eastern Europe and beyond to fill posts.
He claimed the ongoing difficulty in hiring vets for cattle work could jeopardise the future of beef and suckler farming in remote parts of the country.
"If we advertise a job for a vet for small animals only, we are inundated with applications - our email would be choked up.
But nobody, and I mean nobody, wants to work with cattle," Mr Roarty said.
Mr Roarty is currently looking to hire a vet but he couldn't get an Irish graduate and he is now in discussions with a vet from Botswana who studied in Glasgow.
Earlier this year Veterinary Ireland claimed there were up to 110 unfilled posts for vets in large animal practices around the country. However, many in the sector believe there are even more vacant positions, with vets in some areas not advertising jobs because they know they won't get applications.
Mr Roarty said the situation in some parts of the country was now becoming critical. The absence of vet cover could end up excluding farmers from keeping cattle, he claimed.