Meet Kat Hart, Farm Vet and Lead of CultivateCPD.
Hi! Please tell us who you are and what you do.
I’m Kat, I am an assistant veterinary surgeon at George Farm Vets and lead of CultivateCPD
What are your professional interests?
I am passionate about all things youngstock and sustainability, and myself and my husband managed to obtain a 10 year tenancy on a 90 acre council farm in Gloucestershire in 2020. I have been a vet at the George for 12 years and became interested in calf care very early, my passion for youngstock quickly grew after a few visits to see systems in Europe and USA.
Realising the dairy replacement heifer was not only the second highest financial cost on most dairy units but also one of the highest aspects of their carbon footprint, it soon got me interested in the world of farm sustainability.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I am a morning person, so I generally aim to get up and move the cows and sheep and check the stock early. We mob graze our 40-head herd of suckler cows and follow with a flock of commercial sheep. We move them daily, on herbal ley paddocks of approx 1 acre and then aim to rest paddocks for 21-40 days. After sorting the kids off to school and child care, I then normally spend the mornings visiting local farms carrying out young stock visits, which might be during a disease outbreak or as a routine quarterly review. I currently sit on the BCVA board as well as the NFU Next Generation forum, so these meetings, as well as other research projects, take up the afternoon slots. After work, summer evenings are often spent in our no-dig market garden - whether that be planting seeds or harvesting fruit and veg, and packaging them into our new vending machine locker farm shop.
What is your favourite part of the day?
My favourite part of most days is my mornings spent moving the cows, closely followed by a game of "what are you most grateful for" when putting the boys to bed. But the best part of my job is seeing farmers’ progress and improving their youngstock results.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Keeping all the balls in the air! Whether that be follow-ups on farm, phoning through results, general admin or zoom meetings.
Do you have any tips for achieving a good work-life balance?
Ensure you make time to do what you enjoy, and also ensure you celebrate the successes you achieve - no matter how small or how silly they are.
What do you feel are the major opportunities to drive sustainability in the veterinary sector?
I think looking at parasiticide use across all sectors is a key opportunity to drive sustainability, and within that formulating grazing plans with a view on parasite risk mapping, but also looking at grass management, soil health and carbon sequestration.
Moving forwards I think vets will also have important roles to play in understanding and advising on the grants that are available to support farmers on their sustainability journey.
What are your top tips for veterinary professionals wishing to take the first steps to drive sustainability in their roles?
Discuss ideas with the veterinary team and get everyone involved, try and allow your interests to grow and encourage colleagues to explore a wider range of farming systems.
If you could wave a magic wand and make one improvement to drive the sustainability impact of the veterinary profession, what would it be?
Personally, I would make parasiticides POM-V. I think this would encourage all vets to improve their knowledge on parasite control and gain confidence in having more conversations on parasiticide use with farmers, knowing what products are most appropriate to use and when to use them.