A vet tech is a herd healthcare paraprofessional, trained to efficiently carry out a range of on-farm tasks, such as administering vaccinations or monitoring youngstock performance. Rachel Cooper, of LLM Farm Vets, shares insight into what a career as a vet tech involves.
A vet tech acts as a link between a farmer and their routine vet, which can greatly improve herd health outcomes, according to Rachel Cooper, of LLM Farm Vets in the north west of England.
Ms Cooper and her colleagues are often brought on board when farmers face herd health-related tasks and challenges.
She says: “It may be that they do not have the time to give it the level of attention they would like or to train their team to do it properly.
“With tasks such as administering vaccines, farmers usually appreciate the peace of mind that timings are correct, doses have been stored at the right temperature and paperwork is complete.”
Ms Cooper says she takes a flexible approach to how she works with each farm, depending on their needs and preferences, but sometimes it is just lending an ear which can be the difference to herd health.
She says: “With some farms, I simply turn up at the designated time, do what I am there to do and the farmer can be assured it’s been ticked off the list.
“But with other farms, I am much more likely to have a chat with the farmer. This is a key part of the role and can be really useful in itself, as they may mention something they’re concerned about and I can mention it to their routine vet so they can follow up and investigate during their next visit.”
Ms Cooper says she also supports with data collection on-farm.
“Good data is increasingly essential to inform herd health decisions. If I am out on-farm doing something like mobility scoring or carrying out transition checks, I can make sure all relevant data is collected and available to contribute towards building a bigger herd health and performance picture.
“The vet tech role is all about being observant and communicating. By spending more time on-farm than the vet, I am often in the position to notice things, which I can then highlight to the farmer and vet and it allows the farm to get the best out of the next vet visit.”
For anyone who is interested in pursuing a career as a vet tech, Ms Cooper recommends getting as much on-farm experience as possible.
She says: “I’m from a beef and sheep farming background, but worked part-time on a dairy farm from the age of 16. After completing my A levels, I started working there full-time and learned so much during that time.
“I have always had an interest in farm animal health, so when the opportunity came up at LLM Farm Vets, it seemed like a natural fit. I love the practical side of the job and find it very rewarding that my role supports both farmers and vets.
“In the five years I have been here, the vet tech team has really grown. There are also increasing opportunities to gain accredited qualifications, take initiative and start new services which we think will be of value to our clients.
“As an example, vet techs supporting with freeze branding is relatively new, but we have found it has really taken off with several farmers enjoying the convenience of vet techs coming in and getting the task done.”