A new Department of Agriculture study of farmers’ access to their nearest vet could indicate looming issues for farmers in some western and northern counties.
While over 95% of cattle and sheep herds in the Republic of Ireland (excluding the islands) are located within 20km by road of a large or mixed animal vet, the study found that more than one in 10 farmers in Donegal, Galway, Kerry and Mayo are over 20km away from their nearest vet.
Mayo also had the largest number of herds, 482, located 40km or more from their nearest vet
The Department of Agriculture found that 28 farms are over 60km away from their nearest vet.
Twenty-seven of these farms are in Mayo, with one in Louth. Mayo also had the largest number of herds, 482, located 40km or more from their nearest vet.
This compares to two in Donegal, four in Galway and 75 in Kerry.
Age of vets
The Department of Agriculture also surveyed these vet practices to find out the age and gender profile of vets.
The survey found that there are more vets in large and mixed practices in the 30 to 39 age bracket (190) than in any other age bracket and nearly twice as many in this age group than in the 60-plus group.
In the 20 to 29 years age bracket, the majority of vets (55%) are female
There were more than twice as many male vets in large/mixed practice (462) than female (212).
In the 20 to 29 years age bracket, the majority of vets (55%) are female, compared to a minority of 47% in the 30 to 39 years category. Just 16% of vets aged 40 or over are female.
Using this data, the Department examined the distance between herds whose nearest vet practice is staffed solely by a vet in the 60-plus age bracket.
It found that Galway is the county that has the greatest proportion of herds whose closest large or mixed animal vet is staffed solely by a vet or vets who are in the 60-plus age bracket. It was followed by Cork, Kerry, Mayo and Sligo, respectively.