Large animal vet support is in crisis, leaving the potential for emergency assistance out of reach for many producers, a leading vet has warned.

Ian Baker, senior vet with the Farm Animal Welfare Council, London, told delegates the decline in large vet practices had mirrored the fall in profitability of farming.

“Fewer vets are being employed and young vets often move to other more profitable avenues.

Nearly all areas suffer a low density of cover and there are questions over the possibility for emergency assistance.”

Moves by DEFRA to introduce a Health Planning Strategy in spring 2006 with 6m of pump-priming capital to help with education were welcome, but the underlying issue on large animal vet cover remained an area of concern, he said.