Deer Special Topic
In what has become a regular feature of our May calendar, we host a group of final year Massey University vet students here who are doing a Special Interest Topic in deer.
While the deer industry has shrunk somewhat after a number of financially tough years, the Bay is still home to a significant part of the NZ deer farming scene. And with a long association with the industry, right back to the pioneering days, Vet Services is still very much involved, both locally and nationally.
We have up to a dozen keen students here for a morning with their lecturer Dr. Peter Wilson, running through practical aspects of deer vet practice. Richard Hilson has amassed a large number of photos of nearly every type of large animal we work with and there are plenty of pictures of clinical cases in deer to discuss with the students. Along with Ian Walker, our Practice Manager, he attempts to provide the students with a reality check about the real deal of veterinary practice with deer– that mostly it is physical routine work but with a fair dose of very interesting animal health cases. And some interesting deer farmers to work with and learn from too!
The afternoon session involves a visit to the deer farm of George Williams at Tikokino. The Williams family have had a long association with the training of young agricultural types, including working with the Smedley Station cadets. George, who is also the President of the CHB Farmers Veterinary Club, runs a breeding herd of about 400 hinds as well as a velveting herd. Stock manager Ken Rowe runs in a group of deer for the students to work with so they can pick up hints on animal handling skills.
A farm tour around the very picturesque deer unit follows, along with some pressure questions for the hosts from some enquiring young minds.
This sort of “job” involves some time and effort but does give our practice good exposure to the right sort of enthusiastic veterinary graduates that may one day want to come and work with us. Like the scores of secondary (and primary) students whom we also host during term time and school holidays, we aim to show them all a “slice of vet life”- not all James Herriot mind you, but plenty of variation and lots of work with man and beast!
If you want to work with animals, it’s probably the best job since Noah parked The Ark.