Representation and Education

BCVA - Meeting the needs of changing cattle practice: Voice of the Cattle Vet Survey

BCVA has just launched a Voice of the Cattle Vet Survey and are urging all vets who spend at least 25% of their time seeing cattle to take part. They are especially keen to get the views of lapsed or non-members, as well as BCVA members. The survey will run throughout May, closing on 7th June, and all those who complete the survey will be in with a chance to win a £100 voucher. It should only take 10 minutes to complete.

With such rapid change in the cattle vet industry, be it increasing corporatisation, consolidation and changes to TB testing services for example, the organisation says it’s vital that they get a clear view as to how they can best serve cattle vets today and in the next five years.

David Barrett, current BCVA President, highlights BCVA’s aims. “BCVA’s vision is for vets to play a central role in safeguarding and improving the wellbeing of cattle and safety of our food within sustainable beef and dairy industries. In today’s rapidly changing industry, it’s even more important that we work together to achieve this vision, and BCVA is keen to understand how we can continue to do this.

Nikki Hopkins, cattle vet in Wales and Junior Vice-President, believes the results will help BCVA continue its mission of representing the views of cattle veterinary surgeons in the wider livestock industry and providing a community for cattle vets in the UK to belong to and share ideas and knowledge.

“One issue at the moment that BCVA has been investigating is the recruitment of cattle vets. We know from a recent BCVA survey that 81% and 49% of 209 respondents said they thought there was an issue with recruitment and retention respectively. Studies have found that students and new qualifiers, particularly those working in mixed practices with only one or two large animal practitioners, had an early negative experience which resulted in a switch to small animal work, which was seen to offer better support to inexperienced veterinarians. This ‘spiral of disillusionment’ has been diagnosed as a major factor in the overall drift towards small animal employment.”

With around 3,000 vets doing farm animal work in the UK, representing about 10% of 30,000 practising UK vets, there is a need for cattle vets to have a strong voice in the veterinary industry. And this disparity in cattle vet numbers is expected to only increase. Added to this issue is the fact that more and more large animal veterinary practices are being purchased by corporates, where they are again dominated by small animal practices, highlighting the challenge of cattle vets’ ‘share of voice’ in the veterinary industry.

Things do look positive for the cattle vet industry however, when looking across the veterinary species areas. The BVA and RCVS 2015 Vet Futures report identified that 68% of farm and equine vets are following the career path that they hoped to 5 years after graduation, compared to 45% for all vets on average (1,912 graduates). The report highlighted that vets working in farm production rated their opportunities for career progression more positively than their colleagues in practice: 41% of those in farm production regarded their prospects as excellent or good – this compares with 36% of those in small animal/exotic/mixed/equine practice.

The report identified the top goals for 2,030 for students and graduates alike are:

  • Better veterinary lives (wellbeing) – 80% said this
  • Ensuring vets are a driving force in animal welfare – 70% said this
  • Safeguarding the authority and expertise of vets in the food chain– 47% considered this to be an important goal

“With these figures demonstrating the specific expertise of farm animal vets, we’re confident of a great future for farm animal vets.” Concluded Matt Yarnall, board member responsible for communications, “BCVA wants to ensure it’s providing the best service to its members, which ultimately we would like all cattle vets to be a part of. This survey will help us to ensure we’re best placed to carry out our aims for many more years to come”.

To complete the survey to be in with a chance to win a £100 voucher, go to

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