Demand for vets 'unprecedented'

As the southern dairy industry improves after seasons of low payouts and on-farm cost-cutting, some of the region's veterinarian practices are finding it difficult to fill staff vacancies, a trend that is reflected nationally.

They are also in competition with overseas recruiting agencies, which are eyeing New Zealand to fill their clients' needs.

The increasing demand for both production and companion animal vet services as practices get busier, is a good indicator of how well the economy is doing, New Zealand Veterinary Association's Veterinary Business Group chairwoman Debra Gates said.

''It is now rocking along really well,'' she said.

''There is a shortage of experienced, capable vets throughout the whole industry.''

She said when the payout was low, many farmers limited calling vets for stock, to reduce expenses.

That had a flow-on effect for many rural practices, sometimes leading to restructuring, reducing hours or not filling vacancies as there was insufficient work.

Now as business improves, many practices are trying to source vets and locums from other countries to meet demand, while overseas recruitment agencies are looking to New Zealand for the same thing.

There are 37 jobs advertised in the industry's magazine, VetScript [as of Friday], while a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment job advertisement survey for June showed there was a 73% increase in vacancies for vets compared with June 2016.

-By Yvonne O'Hara

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