Life as a rural farm animal veterinarian

20 Apr 2021
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Working as a rural farm animal veterinarian is not without its challenges, but for Dubbo-based vet Dr Tim Gole, his keen sense of humour and passion for helping farmers has seen him pursue a fulfilling career as a mixed-practice vet and sheep consultant.

“I feel life as a rural vet is a bit like being in the SAS. You are constantly on the move, you have to pull off daring clinical missions sometimes behind enemy lines out on a farm with no phone service to call for back up, and often have to parachute into any clinical environment without warning.”

“It's tough but it can also be exhilarating, the clients are great, and you are rewarded for those long days with amazing sunrises and sunsets,” said Dr Gole.

Early career

After starting his career in rural vet practice at Coonamble in north-west NSW, three years later Dr Gole worked as a locum vet travelling from Bega to Charleville before doing a stint working at the Animal Emergency Centre on the Gold Coast.

“I then spent a year working in the UK before I returned to Australia in 2010 and managed the vet business in Coonamble while my first bosses had a year off. Then with a business partner, I purchased the Warren Vet Hospital north-west of Dubbo and rebranded it the Western Rivers Veterinary Group, and our motto was ‘anyone who wants a vet gets a vet’!”

“A year or so later, we built Nyngan’s first vet clinic – about 80 kilometres down the road, then a year after that we got an opportunity to form a joint venture in Cloncurry in Queensland, where we purchased the Cloncurry Vet Clinic and formed the North Australian Veterinary group - a mixed practice aimed at servicing the northern cattle industry,” explained Dr Gole.

A change in direction

Dr Gole undertook further study achieving his membership in sheep medicine with the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in 2019. In 2020, he sold out of the mixed veterinary practices and moved to Dubbo, where he started his For Flocks Sake sheep consultancy business.

In his sheep consultancy work, Dr Gole advises farmers on sheep production, focused on flock performance and optimising outcomes.

“I find this work really rewarding because I get to help farmers produce their best sheep. The work involves providing flock-level advice from maximising net reproductive rate to parasite control, along with electronic tagging, data recording and reproductive services like artificial insemination,” said Dr Gole.

Giving back to the veterinary profession

Over the years, Dr Gole has been involved in many of the Australian Veterinary Association’s special interest groups including the equine, reproductive, business and cattle groups, and he is currently on the executive committee of the Sheep, Camelid and Goat Veterinarians Group.

“It's the camaraderie that I enjoy. Knowing that there is a group of professionals like you facing the same challenges is amazing. Secondly, the discussion lists - the value from the cattle vets and sheep vet discussions lists and the willingness of very experienced gurus to contribute is amazing. I also think that the professional representation especially from a production animal viewpoint is so important, both within the greater AVA but also to the industries we serve,” said Dr Gole.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a farm animal veterinarian, you can find out more information about the different veterinary careers available here.

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