I started my BSc (Hons) Veterinary Physiotherapy degree at Harper Adams University in October 2017 and since then I have spent many hours on the University Farm and have come to love and appreciate cattle and the dairy industry.
Pre-University, I had only worked on smallholdings and petting farms, but once at Harper Adams, I started working on a dairy farm, milking the cows and decided that I wanted to put the skills I have learned from my degree to use in the cattle industry.
When my fourth year came around, I used my final year Honours Research Project to investigate the use of veterinary physiotherapy in the cattle farming industry. My project looked at the opinions of cattle farmers and large animal veterinary surgeons on the use of veterinary physiotherapy for cattle and the influencing factors on these opinions.
The project involved two questionnaires, one for cattle farmers with herds of all sizes and types and one for large animal veterinary surgeons. More in-depth data was gathered through interviews. Participants were asked questions including what they understood of veterinary physiotherapy, if farmers had used veterinary physiotherapy for their cattle, and if they would be interested in what they could do for their herd. What would encourage farmers to use veterinary physiotherapy and what would encourage large animal veterinary surgeons to refer cases to veterinary physiotherapists were also investigated.
Overall, physiotherapy could aid the health and welfare of farmed cows and their productivity. Some large animal veterinary surgeons felt that veterinary physiotherapy could play a supportive role in the management of infectious hoof diseases and possibly reduce chronic lameness which could increase milk yields.
My journey with this research did not end there as I was asked to discuss my research and with at a farm vet discussion group consisting of Veterinary students and lecturers at the University of Bristol.
I was nervous, but I got so much out of the experience: I provided new light on how veterinary physiotherapy can benefit cattle and the farming industry to leading Vets and discussed other potential research that could be done around cattle physiotherapy.
I don’t know where my love for cattle or my research will take me next, but as long as I can make a difference to the lives of cattle and farmers, I am more than happy to go along for the ride!
Guest blog written by fourth-year BSc (Hons) Veterinary Physiotherapy student Natalie Stanley.