Page 18 - Livestock Matters - Spring 2013

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Laughing stock...
Emily Collier
, Usk, Monmouthshire
Third year student, University of Bristol
The real fun started in first year where we
were unleashed to help with lambing for
three weeks. We had been taught at
university how to catch and turn a sheep
but that was in a small pen of five tame
youngsters. The stocky sheep of Bridgend
were probably heavier than I was, and 300
strong in each huge pen! The farmer's son
found it hilarious to watch me trying to catch
any of them. After many attempts I perfected
the 'Sneak and Dive', tiptoeing up behind
them and springing on them at the last
minute. Comical, yes, but as a wise farmer
once informed me ‘you'd better have brains
cause you certainly haven't got any brawn’.
Too true. Once I had that nailed, lambing
was a great experience and gave me a first
taste of being a vet.
In the holidays we complete many weeks of
'extra-mural studies' (EMS) which is essentially
work experience as it's important we have
a sound knowledge of the whole farm to
understand the factors behind the veterinary
decisions we will be making once we have
graduated. In the first two years we work
with horses, cattle, pigs and at a small
animal vet practice. Milking was a highlight,
surprisingly I loved the early morning starts,
and the cowman was a typical bundle of
Welsh laughs with his crude jokes and a
cheeky grin firmly stuck on his face.
At Easter I start working at my foster practice.
Bristol is the only vet school that runs this
scheme - we are paired with a mixed
veterinary practice and work with them for
many weeks throughout the holidays until we
graduate. This continuity allows us to build up
a good rapport with the staff at the practice,
which hopefully means we can become more
involved as they gain our trust.
For now there are three weeks left of term
and what seems like three years' worth of
work to be completed by then! A mock
application for a research grant on chickens,
an essay on the spread of equine viral
arteritis and a presentation on anaesthetising
a guinea pig to name just a fraction of it.
Good job vet students come with a sense of
humour - I'd better laugh otherwise I would
be crying! Until next time...
About Me
I decided when I was seven that I was
going to be a vet, and that I wanted to
study at Bristol University. I am proud to
say that's where I find myself now, in my
third year and planning to intercalate in
behaviour and welfare next year. I have
lived in the same village in Monmouthshire
all my life, surrounded by agriculture. I
used to spend every spare moment with
the horses, which were kept on a sheep
farm. I would spend hours in the sheds at
lambing time eagerly watching for which
ewe would be next, and was always on
hand to help with the shearing. I went to
several (rather wild) YFC barn dances and
the agricultural shows were the highlight
of my summers. In addition to many
weeks at local vet practices and equine
centres, I have worked on the pig unit at
Hartpury College and on a couple of
local dairy farms; I actually loved the early
starts, much to my own surprise! I also
helped with lambing a flock of 1,000
ewes near Bridgend, which was certainly
a steep learning curve but one which I
fully enjoyed.
Three years into vet school at Bristol University and I am still
as enthusiastic as ever. Although considering I come from a
hypoallergenic household, I have an uncanny ability to get
covered in every kind of muck - a cow pat shower, an alpaca
spit cannon and of course the dignified mud bath. Poor Mum.
Stocking up on ideas for my column