World Buiatrics Congress and International Pig Veterinary Society Congress to put animal health in the spotlight

Two global veterinary conferences to be held in Dublin next year are expected to boost the national economy by some €12 m.
World Buiatrics Congress and International Pig Veterinary Society Congress to put animal health in the spotlight

Veterinary Ireland, the representative body for veterinary surgeons, will host the World Buiatrics Congress (WBC) in the Convention Centre (July 3-8).

It is expected to attract 2,500 delegates and will focus on cattle health.

Buiatrics is the study of cattle and their health and the conference, held every two years, will be attended by people from more than 60 countries.

Veterinary Ireland chief executive Finbarr Murphy said cattle health will be an important factor in maintaining and improving the competitiveness of Ireland’s dairy and beef exports.

This is especially so with the Government planning to grow food exports to €12bn by 2020 and with further ambitious targets set out in Food Wise 2025.

“The sharing of knowledge between global delegates, and veterinary professionals attending the conference, will help ensure Irish agriculture remains at the forefront of the latest technological and industry advancements,” he said.

The International Pig Veterinary Society (IPVS) Congress in the RDS (June 7-10) is also expected to attract 2,500 delegates.

An association of specialists in pig health and production, the IPVS was founded in 1967 and also holds a global conference every two years.

With Ireland hosting two prestigious international veterinary gatherings next year, there will be an increased focus on animal health and the role of vets across a range of specialities from farm animals to bloodstock and family pets.

One of the aims of Veterinary Ireland, established in 2001, with a pedigree back to 1888, is to facilitate the profession in its commitment to improving the health and welfare of the animals under its care.

Protecting public health and serving the changing needs of its clients and the community through effective and innovative leadership is another objective.

Veterinary Ireland’s new president, Mairead Wallace-Pigott from Millstreet Veterinary Group in north Cork, said that as a profession vets needed to promote prudent use of antibiotics.

“To this end, we need to be diligent in prescribing or supplying antibiotics only to our own bona fide clients, where we have full in-depth knowledge of the animals and their environment and an ongoing working relationship with the owners,” she said.

The new president said she would like to work towards finding ways to sustain rural practice and the veterinary infrastructure (both human and capital) necessary to serve communities.

“The sustainability of these practices impact not only on the services we can provide for our farmer clients and pet owners in rural areas, but also on the provision of jobs for our new graduates, so that we can retain the profession’s greatest asset, our young well-educated vets,” she said.

“These young vets need support, mentoring, a good work/life balance and a realistic salary when starting out.

“To this end I would like to see co-operation between neighbouring practices and/or amalgamation of practices to provide a better working environment, economies of scale and life balance for all.

“I have personal experience of being part of a practice amalgamation in 2000 and it was one of the best things we ever did.”

The Veterinary Ireland president said she would like to see better recognition of the vets’ role in food safety, animal welfare, public health, research, academia and business.

Meanwhile, the Irish bloodstock industry, which supports in the region of 14,000 jobs is one of the sectors where the support provided by vets is becoming increasingly important.

Last month, Irish vets specialising in the sector gathered in Kilkenny for the 2015 Veterinary Ireland Equine Conference.

Jim Bolger, the thoroughbred racehorse trainer and breeder, from Coolcullen, Co Kilkenny, who officially opened the conference, said he was very fortunate to grow up on a mixed farm in Wexford.

He said he made the acquaintance of some very wise and talented vets at a very young age, as the Second World War was coming to an end.

“I got some very good advice from them, which I cherish to this day. Later in life I used the services of some wonderful and talented vets with whom I shared many highlights and the occasional low in my career. I could not be more complimentary to them and to their profession,” he said.

Denis Healy, veterinary inspector, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, said the thoroughbred horse racing industry is worth in excess of €1 billion to the Irish economy, with the sports horse element contributing a further €750m.

He said that Ireland’s reputation for breeding thoroughbred racehorses is renowned worldwide and results in substantial foreign direct investment into the country.

Investors needed to be assured that the usage of medicines is in accordance with national law at all stages of production, from breeding to competing.

The “authorisation process” guarantees the quality, safety and efficacy of each medicine for the animal being treated and also for the general public, where horses are slaughtered for human consumption.

Mr Healy said there was no place for the use of illegal medicines or performance enhancing drugs or hormones in the industry.

Máiread McGuinness, vice president, European Parliament, who officially opened Veterinary Ireland’s overall national conference and annual general meeting in Mullingar, also stressed that animal health issues are high on the parliament’s agenda.

“The role of the veterinary practitioner in managing herd health and assisting farmers with disease prevention on their farms is more important than ever.

“Vets and farmers are part of the food supply chain, which starts with healthy animals in a healthy environment. Consumers need to know that this vital link in the chain works in an effective way,” she said.

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