Liz recalls her recent on-call weekend

Larkmead is one of the few remaining practices who still do all their own out of hours work.  This is a huge plus point for our clients, as we are familiar with your farm and have access to records. Being on call has changed a lot since I started here 17 years ago. Then, I was on call for small as well as large animals, and apart from Saturday morning you were on your own. When busy, it could get quite stressful and you relied a lot on your nurses.

Now, the large and small animal side of the practice are run separately and for the large animal side there is a vet on first and another on second call.  Our catchment area has expanded hugely in recent years and, with some clients being an hour’s drive away, we need to make sure we have back-up when we need it.

On my recent weekend on-call duty, I was called on the Saturday to a large Charolais cow that had been trying to calve all morning. The farmer walked her across several fields to bring her into the yard to examine her in his new crush.  He realised very quickly that he needed our help. When I examined her I could feel the legs of the calf quite far in and the calf was coming backwards and upside down. As I started to pull, I discovered the cord was also wrapped around its legs – little wonder it wasn’t coming on its own!  Luckily with the aid of the calving jack we were able to get the calf out quickly and, although stunned, she was soon attempting to stand and by the time I had cleaned myself up she was already attempting to suck.

The farmer then took great pride in showing me his new crush – a big investment, but one which will pay dividends in the years to come.  Having proper control of your animals makes a huge difference for all sorts of tasks. This one had the added feature of a neck scoop which gives control of the head for ear tagging and dosing, and is especially useful when TB testing.

The Sunday was much quieter, with just a few phone calls taken from farmers needing advice.  We prefer to be called earlier rather than later, as rapid intervention is certainly better for the animal, and we will always visit if requested. But sometimes advice over the phone is all that is required, meaning a call out is not necessary.

I had the pleasure of being on call at this year’s Berkshire show. This is always a great day out and I have enjoyed being the Sunday show vet for the last 3 or 4 years.  You get to see the animals looking their absolute best and it is so much nicer to chat with clients when there isn’t a sick or injured animal to treat.  Maybe I will see you next year!

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