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It's a bit of a back-handed compliment for vet Steve


Spring time is one of the busiest times of year for the farm vets at Alnorthumbria and now, with calving and lambing in full swing, we have put the routine work such as pregnancy testing and tuberculosis testing to one side in order to concentrate our resources on the emergency work, writes Steve Carragher.

Assisted lambings and calvings are unpredictable jobs which invariably crop up when you least want them so in the Spring we always ensure that we have a full complement of veterinary staff and the vets work extra nights and weekends in order to back up the on-call vets.

It is not unusual to have a number of vets waiting for a call to come in and then, like the proverbial bus, three or four come all at once.

Sheep, cattle and not forgetting goats, alpacas and llamas seem to prefer to give birth at night so our farm vets tend to get very little sleep at this time of year.

Whilst we all would prefer to stay in bed, farm vets are very accepting that this will always be part of the job and there is definitely a strong sense of satisfaction when a healthy newborn is delivered, whatever the time, day or night.

Stress levels are generally very high around this time of year with farm businesses dependent on a successful lambing and calving period for the future.

Decision-making is often key to a successful outcome and only experience can guide a stockman or a vet as to whether a calf or lamb can be delivered naturally or by caesarean.

Several years ago I delivered a calf and a puppy by caesarean over the same weekend.

The owners of both were overjoyed by the result and subsequently named the calf and the puppy after me.

The heavily-muscled Limousin bull calf was in stark contrast to the tiny Pomeranian pup which on delivery looked like a star from the film Gremlins.

I'd like to think there was a certain similarity between myself and the Limousin bull but I hope the little Pomeranian puppy was not named on likeness alone.


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