As more and more local vet practices retire their agricultural services, Clyde Vets has become a leading provider for farmers. According to one of the Clinical directors Mike Denholm:

“A lot of the mixed practices that used to exist have now stopped treating farm animals and we have ended up absorbing a lot of the smaller farms on the outskirts of major towns and cities. It means we cover a large area of central Scotland from Perth to Abington and Glasgow to Edinburgh.”

The Scottish Farmer: Clyde Vets offer mobiltiy scoring servicesClyde Vets offer mobiltiy scoring services

Founded in 2003, Clyde Veterinary Group has facilities in Lanark Market and Stirling Agricultural Centre. With 17 vets at their disposal, Clyde provides various agricultural services such as ambulatory services, dairy routine herd visits, AI and Embryo transfers, health planning, sheep lung scanning, cow foot trimming, export health certification, and training for students and farmers alike.

Mike is based in the newer Stirling location that was added in 2014 to accommodate the farm and equine teams. Unfortunately, the decline in farm services from available vet practices could be down to the lack of vets willing to go into that side of the industry.

“We have links with the University of Glasgow Vet School and we take them for teaching placements on farms and you often find a very small proportion of them choose to be farm vets and an even smaller number for equine services. When we take the students on we like to see who would be good for our practice but maybe 10% will actually be interested in going into agriculture.”

With the business constantly growing, Clyde Vets is always trying to add more to the team.

The Scottish Farmer: Vet techs are able to help with non-veterinary tasksVet techs are able to help with non-veterinary tasks

“We are trying to employ more part timers during the busier times like lambing in the spring. Currently, we have to double up our shifts during those periods but if we can we’d like to increase the team just to give everyone a better work/life balance.”

Currently, Clyde Vets does have a couple of vet technicians who are able to assist farmers with more routine procedures.

The Scottish Farmer: Clyde Vet Group is primarily a farm practiceClyde Vet Group is primarily a farm practice

“Our vet techs are able to support in non-veterinary tasks such as vaccinating, disbudding, and mobility scoring. It frees up our vets when they are needed on more urgent assignments and also helps out farmers when they need assistance in these more routine jobs.”

The vet tech support will do tasks on the farm that they have been trained to do using the correct procedure. This minimises stress and prevents disease with the aim of making sure the right things are getting done at the right time.

Mike has found the workload to be a bit more predictable these days compared to a decade ago.

The Scottish Farmer: Clyde Vets provide on-farm visits and checks to help out their farmersClyde Vets provide on-farm visits and checks to help out their farmers (Image: web)

“Looking back 10 years ago we used to do a lot of ambulatory reactionary work where we had to be going out on emergency calls, whereas now everything is a bit more routine like fertility and blood testing.”

With farmers opting to be more sustainable in their businesses and trying to reduce risks with their animals, stock emergencies are less common.

“Of course, we are still getting called out on more serious jobs and more so in the springtime as we are a primarily sheep and beef business.”

Something that makes Clyde Vets stand out against their competitors is their commitment to education. Alongside Glasgow Vet School, Clyde Vets runs a final year placement course giving the students hands-on farm experience.

The Scottish Farmer: In the last decade, workload has become more routine for the practiceIn the last decade, workload has become more routine for the practice (Image: web)

“We take them for a week and they get to come on the farm and shadow our team, as well as getting stuck in themselves. It’s a good way to promote agricultural veterinary practices and allows us to see who might make good members of our team in the future.

“At the end of the day, they all have to take the same exams to complete their course so it benefits them to get that farming experience.”

It’s not just students who gain from the learning opportunities, Clyde Vets also runs successful courses for farmers. Currently they run sessions teaching about AI, responsible medicine, lambing and pre-lambing, and foot trimming, and they are hoping to host a calving workshop soon.

“It’s really important that we ask farmers what they need help with and that we follow through. The courses we run are very beneficial to the farmers and it’s a service we are hoping to increase and expand these sessions in the next year or two.”

Mike believes the courses will be necessary if regulations and assurances are implemented in Scotland like they are in England.

“Down south, where there are more dairy farms, the farmers need all kinds of assurance qualifications. It is currently looking like we might have that up here soon too so it is good to have these accredited courses. Currently, only our AI and responsible medicine courses are accredited but we would be looking to expand that.”

When it came to award night Mike and the team were just so pleased to see the agricultural sector promoted so positively.

“It was such a good night and it was really nice to be celebrating the farming industry for once when there is always such bad press and negative agendas surrounding it. It felt very special to be recognised in the first place and we were so proud as a group to receive the award. It belongs to every single person on the team, we couldn’t have done it without any of them.”

Judges comment: “Clyde Vet Group is an inspiring, innovative farm practice with an excellent team of dedicated veterinary surgeons.

No longer is the fire brigade service but the team forms excellent relationships with their farmer clients with on-farm Health Planning to improve animal health and welfare and concurrent reduction in antibiotic use.

Offering technician services such as disbudding, vaccination – a valuable tool for busy farmers – making sure the task is completed at the right time, not just when the farmer has time.”

It’s all about promoting the industry in a positive light for Winners of Animal Health Provider of the Year, Clyde Vet Group.