Farm Ireland

Monday 11 December 2017

Part-time farmers ramping up the demand for out-of-hours services - Vet

Eamon O'Connell
Eamon O'Connell
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

Physical work and on-call rotas are the biggest deterrents to young vets taking up positions in county practices, says Tipperary-based vet Eamon O'Connell (pictured).

The Summerhill Veterinary Clinic vet said he has noticed a drop-off in vets working with larger animals.

He said that the growing numbers of part-time farmers is resulting in heightened demand for veterinary services before 8am in the morning and after 7pm in the evening.

"Anecdotally you hear from peers that they are having trouble hiring candidates with experience. There are lots of areas where you are being pulled away from general practice because of more attractive wages and a working hours," he said.

He said the occupation was a more attractive option 10 or 15 years ago, particularly on the beef and suckler side.


"Out-of-hours work is getting more common, maybe not so much from the dairy side but definitely in practices where there has been an increased number of sucklers or dry stock, a high percentage of those guys are probably working day jobs.

"For us that means cattle are being checked before 8am and after 7pm so there is a sequence developing where it's usually out-of-hours calls."

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Although Mr O'Connell agrees that expanding practices to have more vets supporting each other is part of the solution, he warns that bigger practices also mean bigger catchment areas.

"Practices are getting bigger in size, and the more vets you have the better because you can spread the workload. But it's a Catch 22. If you've got more clients over a larger area, you are busier when you are on call, so it's hard to know what the answer is," he said.

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