Country Smallholding

Don’t call Dr Face­book

- Deb­bie Kings­ley (Deb­bie runs smallholdi­ng cour­ses: www.southye­o­

I’m a com­plete fan and big user of so­cial me­dia, but there are some smallholdi­ng re­lated queries (nearly al­ways on Face­book – Twit­ter is nor­mally a bit more re­spon­si­ble) that make me de­spair. My main con­cern is the num­ber of peo­ple who use a Face­book post to try and get com­plete strangers to di­ag­nose what are prob­a­bly se­ri­ous live­stock ail­ments. They cer­tainly get in­un­dated with ad­vice, most of which is en­tirely con­tra­dic­tory, some of which is ter­ri­fy­ingly ill-in­formed. Those who sug­gest that a vet should be their first port of call rather than Dr Face­book can get short shrift too, with tales of how use­less their vet has been, adding to the gen­eral out­pour­ing; it’s a feisty jun­gle of opin­ion out there!

My ad­vice is, if you have any se­ri­ous con­cerns about your live­stock, call your vet, not do a straw poll among those who know lit­tle or noth­ing about your par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tion. If you have con­cerns about your vet, change vets. My vets are in­cred­i­bly help­ful and knowl­edge­able and are al­ways happy to spend ages on the phone and email (at no charge), un­less they think a visit is nec­es­sary, in which case they are on site and deal­ing with is­sues in dou­ble quick time. You may be lucky to have a trust­wor­thy farmer or far more ex­pe­ri­enced small­holder close by, in which case they are also a good source of ad­vice. But if you are wor­ried, don’t use Dr Face­book or just wait a few days to see if the sit­u­a­tion will re­solve it­self – nei­ther are ap­pro­pri­ate routes for the re­spon­si­ble live­stock keeper.

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