My trip to Somerset and Dorset, England was a wonderful experience that provided plenty of hands-on experience as well as serving as a real eye opener about the EU policies on food animal production. I spent six weeks working with two private practices where I was able to gain additional practical experience in both dairy and small ruminant medicine.
The first practice was Friars Moore Veterinary Clinic, a 10-doctor large animal team in Sturminster Newton, Dorset. Their practice offers a wide number of services including surgery, heard health, reproduction, and client education. They are a specialist dairy practice, but they also offer expertise in small ruminants and camelids. Dr. Yoav Alony Gilboa will be one of the primary clinicians I will be working with who has a specialty in small ruminant health from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. My time with this practice gave me a lot of hands-on experience in small ruminants. I was able to perform on-farm surgeries with sheep, goats, and cattle including DAs, c-sections, fetotomies, and prolapses.
During the second half of my stay, I worked with Shepton Veterinary Group, a 12-doctor dairy practice, in Shepton Mallet, Somerset. They offer complete dairy services including reproduction, herd health, client education, milk quality, and surgery. I worked predominantly with Dr. Paddy Gordon who has a specialty in cattle health and production from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. He also lectures for two of the veterinary schools in England on dairy health and production. While there, I was exposed to how they manage to incorporate client education into their practice including quarterly meetings with farmers where they actually look at data from their own farms to see how well they are doing and set benchmarks for performance. This practice also uses laparoscopic methods to correct displaced abomasums which I had never seen used in the States.
Even more interesting than the practical experience I gained, I was exposed to the EU regulation of production animals. I was expecting EU standards to be more stringent on the use of antibiotics based on other regulation standards including milk SCC. They did have more stringent policies on record keeping of antibiotic use, but the medications that were available were wide reaching. Flouroquinolones and macrolides are regularly reached for to treat infectious disease in adult dairy cattle contrary to that seen in the States. Comparatively though, the use of estrus synchronization programs were almost non-existent due to regulations on the use of hormones only as medicinal treatment of disease such as cystic ovaries and absence of visible estrus.
As if the knowledge and experience with large animals wasn’t enough, the culture in Southern England was phenomenal. I was able to learn about the cuisine peculiarities including black pudding, cream tea, bubble n squeak, and cider. The old and historically rich architecture was incredibly interesting. Also, everyone I interacted with was also wonderfully friendly and very polite. The experiences I gained and the people I have met will carry on with me in the future. I would recommend any student to try to find the opportunity to study abroad. This trip has been a rich and fulfilling education.
—Lauren Blair, Class of 2014