Veterinary Student Evie Orchin-Moloney explains the benefits of going to veterinary conference while you are studying in college and what you can learn at them. 

This year the Farm Animal Veterinary Congress (FAVS Congress) was held in Glasgow with students from the vet schools in UCD, Edinburgh, Royal Veterinary College (London), Bristol, Liverpool, Nottingham, and Glasgow. The FAVS Congress, first established in 2012, consists of a weekend of lectures, practicals and socialising, offering future vets with an interest in the farm animal aspect of veterinary the chance to network, learn new skills, and gain an insight into the very forefront of farm animal research and developments from some of the industry’s leading experts.

After a morning of classes in college, we were off to Dublin Airport and a little Duty-free shopping for Irish chocolates and trinkets for our hosts later, we were on route to Scotland!

The weekend began Friday night with a meet up in Glasgow University’s student’s union, where we met our hosts for the weekend (fourth-year Glasgow vet students) and went exploring Glasgow city.


Glasgow has some of the most beautiful buildings!

It was an early start the next morning with lectures beginning at 9am. FAVS Congress offered several options of lectures and practicals to pick from so you could customise them to your own specific interests, and what you wanted to get out of the weekend.

For the Saturday I picked the lectures on “BVD” (Bovine Viral Diarrhoea) and “Mistakes Young Vets Make”. As we were starting our first clinical placements a couple of weeks later, the “Mistakes Young Vets Make” talk was extremely useful. The speaker told us about the challenges that he most commonly encountered in his first few years after qualifying as a vet. Also included were some very practical tips on how to avoid common pitfalls, such as the importance of and how to pick the best method for removing the horns of cattle depending on their age and temperament, and how to perform a thorough examination of a dairy cow with mastitis.

A quick lunch later and a wander through the various industry and business stands (picking up many freebies, everyone loves free memory sticks and pens!) later and we were off to a practical on Sheep and Goat Medicine. Throughout our college veterinary course, the main farm animal focus is on cattle, sheep and pigs, so it was great to pick up some valuable information on goat medicine and to see real-life cases of some of the ailments most commonly presenting in goats in general practice.

So often as veterinary students, we are so focused on studying and applying for relevant placements that we forget to consider what we’d like to do when we do qualify as vets! The Job Options panel discussion thus, was extremely informative and provoked lots of thought, with possibilities of careers in industry, research, business, teaching and specialisation all being discussed.


The social highlight of the Congress was the Black-Tie Dinner and Ceilidh with both the students of the other colleges and the staff of Glasgow veterinary school. Held in the very fancy Hilton Hotel and featuring a live traditional Scottish Ceilidh band, it was a considerable change from the farm wellies and overalls earlier in the day!

The next morning saw another early start with a panel discussion in “Vet welfare”. Student welfare in the UCD veterinary building is something our wonderful student advisor, Niamh, works tirelessly on to ensure we are all happy and content in the course, so it was great to see that there are also supports available in the veterinary world for when we graduate and fly the nest of the UCD vet school!

The Sunday lecture on Pneumonia in Cattle was fascinating, and particularly relevant for our module on Vet Clinical Cardiology and Respiratory Diseases, especially as pneumonia is one of the biggest causes of death in young calves in Ireland.

My favourite aspect of the weekend was the practical on Day One Competencies on Sunday afternoon. Upon qualifying as a vet, there are certain procedures and skills you are expected to be proficient in, with the aim of being employable as a graduate vet straight after college.

The University of Glasgow has two calving simulators which allowed us to practice the art of treating a case of dystocia (difficult birth- often due to limbs being twisted or the calf presenting backwards). This practical was excellent, with the lecturer proving that when it comes to calving a cow, the success is all in the technique, not strength!

We also got the opportunity to practice our suturing techniques on various animal tissues and models, another vital day one skill for a graduate vet.

Farm Animal Veterinary Congress

Practicing simple continuous suturing pattern

Heading back home after a great weekend!

The FAVS Congress is an enormously educational and fun weekend which really helps put into perspective and practice the skills learned throughout the veterinary medicine course, I would recommend it for veterinary students of all years to give it a go!