Farmers refusing to take on 'snowflake' vet students – Farming Independent

Farmers are refusing to take on “snowflake” veterinary students who do not have a farming background.

A pig farmer based in north Cork told the Irish Independent he wouldn’t take on veterinary students who don’t come from an agricultural background after two students made a complaint about the farm to the Department of Agriculture.

“We put the two students in boots and they went working in the shed. Later that day they came back crying as they didn’t like the way one of our workers was shouting at the pigs when moving them,” he said. “They never came back, and reported us to the Department of Agriculture.

“The department inspected us and of course everything was found to be perfect but that complaint is still on the record and risked putting our name in the gutter. After that we decided never to take on students that don’t come from farming backgrounds.”

Kerry pig farmer Shane McAuliffe said this wasn’t an isolated case and labelled some veterinary students as part of a “snowflake generation” that is disconnected from farming.


Professor Michael Doherty, Dean and Head of the School of Veterinary Medicine at UCD, said any students who are not from farms will work in farm animal veterinary practice and need to get exposure to farm-based activities and management.

Students from non-farming backgrounds “particularly need to experience farm practice across a range of species to understand the agricultural context within which they will practice. Our vet students often provide much-needed help during the lambing and calving periods and at milking.

“Indeed, some farmers have willingly paid students during their placements because they have found the students so helpful; this is true of students both of farm backgrounds and those who have not grown up on a farm,” he said.

“However, if a farmer has had an unsatisfactory experience or has concerns in relation to our students on placement, the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine would be very happy to discuss this with the farmer concerned.”

Helena Madden, chair of the Recent Graduate Working Group of Veterinary Ireland, said many of her close vet friends weren’t from farming backgrounds and are some of the best vets she knows.

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