19 April 2021
A veterinary surgeon whose international career has combined industry, practice and academia has joined the Harper Keele Vet School as a Clinical Teaching Fellow.
Dr Vicky Hudson, a farm animal veterinary surgeon, began to take an interest in the welfare of animals on her family farm in Castleford, Yorkshire – and since that start has studied and worked in London, Edinburgh, Cheshire and Cumbria in the UK – as well as a stint as both a vet and lecturer in Australia’s New South Wales.
She said: “I come from a farming family so I have had a personal interest in cattle and sheep health from a young age. Like many farm children we were heavily involved in looking after the stock and small hands were always useful at lambing time!”
Dr Hudson gained a degree in Bioveterinary Sciences from the Royal Veterinary College in London, then studied Veterinary Medicine at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Science in Edinburgh.
After graduating, she took up a livestock vet internship in Cumbria, and after working as an Associate with the practice once her internship completed, decided to combine work and pleasure – and move to Australia to apply her skills there.
She said: “I’d never really had a gap year or travelled extensively – though my brother had been to New Zealand previously and had a great time!
“While I was organising my visa, I worked as a locum vet, along the east coast working with predominantly beef and then as an Official Veterinarian for the APHA in Cheshire.
“I then was ready to start my travels - I worked as a Clinical Registrar for the University of Sydney in Australia for the next three years, teaching vet students and providing veterinary services to livestock owners in New South Wales.
“Sadly, the travels around Australia which were planned to follow this were cancelled due to Covid – though we did an Australian version of staying local, which meant only a few hours’ radius of travel in the Central West, South Coast and Sydney Basin of New South Wales.
“That did mean, however, we had some extra time with our wonderful Australian friends and the local community - which we had become a part of through the Rural Fire Service.”
Upon her return to the UK, Vicky joined the Harper Keele Vet School – though it is not her only link to Harper Adams University - as her husband Michael is a Harper Adams alumnus who studied a HND in Agriculture, Land and Farm management with a top up degree of BSc arable business development. He now has an agricultural fabrication and engineering business.
As well as her role at the Vet School, she is a working Veterinary Surgeon in the team at LLM Farm Vets, based in Whitchurch.
She added: “Working for LLM is great – they are a really forward-thinking practice and the experience I get with them keeps me fresh and up to date, and I can then bring that into the teaching I do with our students at the Vet School.
“I find teaching very stimulating and, in turn, it encourages me to improve my own knowledge and understanding so that I can enhance the learning of others.
“My primary tasks are assisting the creation of teaching material for livestock studies, building connections between the university and allied professional businesses - and teaching the final year students when they are on placement at LLM Farm Vets!”
Vicky is a keen advocate of the benefits of improving both animal welfare and production. She hopes to take the research being done at universities such as Harper Adams on areas such as the benefits of improving mobility in dairy cows on their welfare and productivity out to farmers through her veterinary role.
She added: “Having an animal in optimum condition means they will make the most of everything you are putting into them. That’s why I am interested in improving welfare in tandem with production, showing that investing in welfare will directly improve the profitability of livestock.”
Alongside this work within the industry, Vicky is also keen to thread both research and sustainable practice into her teaching – which was one of the reasons she was attracted to working at the Harper Keele Veterinary School.
She added: “I was particularly keen to be involved as the university focus was on livestock and sustainable farming.
“The livestock vet sector is very small - so having a programme which stimulates interest about farmed species and produces graduates with confident practical skills is very exciting.
“Sustainable farming and vet involvement go hand in hand so having a research hub at HKVS will hopefully propel sustainability into our future practices.”