Concern over vet numbers shortfall is raised at Clogher Valley Show

First Minister Arlene Foster and Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Michelle McIlveen greet HRH The Duke of Gloucester during a visit to the Clogher Valley Show in Co Tyrone.   Picture: Michael Cooper
First Minister Arlene Foster and Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Michelle McIlveen greet HRH The Duke of Gloucester during a visit to the Clogher Valley Show in Co Tyrone. Picture: Michael Cooper

In a week that has seen the shortfall in the number of GPs highlighted comes news that the veterinary profession in Northern Ireland is similarly affected.

“The total shortfall in practitioner numbers working out of rural practises across Northern Ireland is in the region of 50,” confirmed Ian Stewart, a director of the Dungannon and Cookstown-based Parklands’ veterinary group.

“As a result, the challenge of providing an effective veterinary service to farmers and rural dwellers becomes all the greater.”

Mr Stewart made these comments while attending this year’s Clogher Valley Show.

“And we are not alone in having these problems. Wales is addressing the problem by establishing a new school of veterinary medicine in Aberystwyth,” he said.

“And I know that the Scottish Executive is working closely with its own department of agriculture and the veterinary profession in that part of the world to come up with solutions that best meet the needs of all relevant stakeholder groups.”

Mr Stewart made it clear that he is not advocating the establishment of a veterinary college in Northern Ireland.

“But the issue of not having enough vets working in rural area is one which the Stormont Executive should be aware of,” he stressed.

“Vets play a key role when it comes to maintaining the fabric of the farming industry and rural communities as whole.

“So something must be done to address the challenges created by the shortfall in practitioner numbers at the present time.”

This year’s Clogher Valley Show hosted the Northern Ireland Shows Association (NISA) Dairy Cow Championship. Sponsored by McLarnon’s Animal Feeds, it is the most prestigious event of its kind held during the summer months.

The class was won by the Fleming family from Seaforde in Co Down with their spectacular Jersey 4th calver Potterswalls Action Daisybelle. The Flemings had previously won this year’s inter breed dairy championship at Balmoral with the same cow.

Judge Alan Timbrell described the animal as an almost perfect example of the Jersey breed.

“She has a tremendous udder and overall dairy strength,” he said,

“Of even greater significance is the fact that she calved 11 months ago and has managed to maintain such excellent condition.”

The pedigree beef inter-breed championship was won by the Connolly family from Ballynahinch in Co Down with a classy Charolais heifer.

The animal had previously notched up two inter-breed titles already this summer, not to mention her securing the Charolais female championship at Balmoral,

The sheep inter breed title was won by Co Down breeder Diane Christie with a very fancy Charolais shearling ram. She just pipped Dromara flock-owner Jim Aiken to the post.

He had won the last two inter breed championships held at Antrim and Castlewellan Shows with his truly eye catching Border Leicester shearling ewe. But, alas, it was a case of so close but so far when it came to securing the elusive three-in-a row accolade.

The Clogher Valley Show is organised and run by the Clogher Valley Agricultural Society Ltd.