The lifestyle block vet
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The lifestyle block vet

Providing quality veterinary support of backyard farm animals is a grey area between companion and production animal practice and creates its own set of challenges.

3/04/2017 to 16/07/2017
When: 3 April - 16 July 2017
Where: Online VetScholar Course
New Zealand
Presenter: Cristin Dwyer, Naya Bragenberg, Michelle Logan (nee Dicken) and Dawn Mills
Contact: Hannah Schrader
+64 4 495 1140

Online registration is closed.
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*Registrations are now closed for Module 1

Crossing the divide: Feeling confident caring for production animals kept as pets

About this course

  • Have you had the joy of arriving at a life style property with plans to examine or treat large stock and there are no handling facilities or even neighbouring yards available?
  • Do you run for the hills when a chicken in the waiting room or there is a sick alpaca to visit?
  • Can you provide your life style block clients with the information, knowledge and tools to properly care for their animals?

Have you ever felt anxious and out of your depth when dealing with unfamiliar species owned by clients who have limited knowledge of how to care for their animals, despite their best intentions?

Providing quality veterinary support of backyard farm animals is a grey area between companion and production animal practice and creates its own set of challenges.

This course will improve your confidence during the handling, examination and treatment of animals commonly found on lifestyle blocks. These animals often become affected with diseases and health conditions that are entirely preventable if the owners were properly educated on the basics of animal husbandry.


Module 1 (Monday 3 April - Sunday 14 May 2017):
Registrations are now closed.

Module 2 (Tuesday 6 June - Sunday 16 July 2017):
Topic 1: Back yard and free-range pigs
Topic 2: Back yard and tethered goats
Topic 3: Odd animals/ Ag day pets/education of clients

  • Be confident with clinical examination, diagnosis and treatment of common diseases of lifestyle block animals kept as individual pets, or in small numbers.
  • Where to turn for useful sources for further information on the veterinary care of lifestyle block animals.
  • Drug dosages and how to best medicate back yard animals.
  • Tools and equipment.
  • Emergency care for the backyard animal.
  • Preventative health care for the backyard animal.
  • Improved welfare outcomes for the backyard animal (including sources of information and education).

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course you will be:

  • Skills: you will be confident to examine and handle a variety of the animal’s common on NZ life style blocks.
  • Knowledge: you will be familiar with the common diseases of the lifestyle block animals and how to treat them.
  • Attitudes/behaviours: you will no longer feel dread when a chicken appears in your waiting room or you are called to castrate a pig or treat a sick alpaca.
  • Impacts: you will be able to provide a good standard of care for back yard animals and provide education to their owners.
  • You will know the nutritional requirements of back yard stock.
  • You will know where to go for help and further resources.


Participants can choose to do either of the two six week modules or both.
Each module comprises of three topics where there will be provided notes (per topic), an assessment quiz and a discussion forum.

We aim to provide one to two hours of course work per week so participants can expect to spend up to 12 hours per module.

VetScholar courses are not run at set times during the day so it allows the participants to complete it around their work and family commitments.

As with all VetScholar resources, the notes are provided in electronic format. Participants have access to the course material for up to one year from the start of the course and are welcome to download the material for their personal use in future.


Working with lifestyle block clients can be unrewarding and frustrating. The lifestyle block calls and consults are often avoided by veterinarians in practice and it is frequently the new graduates who are elected to take on these unpopular jobs.

Lifestyle block clients often have a variety of “unusual” pets that can be challenging to handle, examine, diagnose and treat. If veterinarians provide a high quality service for all types of lifestyle block animals there will be a number of benefits:

  • The animal will be better of as husbandry, and health and welfare will improve.
  • The client will be better off as they can learn more from the veterinarian and the veterinary clinic. Their animals will be happier and healthier
  • The veterinary business will grow with the increasing numbers of lifestyle block clients.
  • The veterinarian will be better off as increased knowledge and skills in the lifestyle block area will increase job satisfaction and add value to the business and lifestyle block client.

With the "non core" companion and farm animals, small changes based on good veterinary advice can have huge positive welfare outcomes for the back yard animals. Isn't this why many of us became vets? This course will enable you to "make a difference".


Michelle Logan (nee Dicken) MA VetMB CertAVP(ESST) FANZCVS (Equine Medicine). Michelle is a register Specialist in Equine Medicine and a RCVS Advance Practitioner in Equine Soft Tissue Surgery. She graduated in 1999 and since then has worked mainly in mixed practice apart from an Equine Medicine Residency at Massey University. Michelle also has an interest in equine stud work and foal critical care and is presently involved in research into Equine Metabolic Syndrome funded by the NZERF.

Cristin Dwyer BS (Animal Science) BVSc PGCertEdu. graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from UMass Amherst in 2003 and qualified as a veterinarian from Massey in 2008. In 2015 she gained a PostGradEdu certificate and is currently continuing her studies in adult education. Cristin is a lecturer at Massey in the Farm Services department with a special interest in lifestyle clients. She has recently introduced a herd of alpacas and llamas to the Large Animal Teaching Unit (LATU) in order to improve the veterinary students’ level of confidence and exposure to camelids prior to graduating. Cristin lives with her husband Scott and two young children on a lifestyle block. Cristin is passionate about using education as way to improve the welfare of animals kept on lifestyle properties.

Dawn Mills BVSc, MANZCVSc (Poultry Health). is a Massey graduate of 1981, and holds two Australian College memberships: Avian Medicine (caged & Aviary Birds) and Poultry Medicine. Dawn works part time in mixed practice dealing with small animals (and of course birds and poultry)! The other part of the time Dawn works for a commercial poultry company. Rob and Dawn have kept a flock of Finn sheep on their lifestyle block for the past 20 years, so have lots of experience with small farm sheep problems. Dawn has always had a strong interest in preventative medicine and animal welfare.

Naya Bragenberg MSc DVM.

Richard Laven BvetMed (with distinction in Public Health), PhD
Since qualifying from the RVC in London, Richard has always had a particular interest in goats. His first ever presentation at a conference was to the (UK) Goat Veterinary Society on lice in goats, and has attended and spoken at many meetings since, and he has been a member of the GVS committee since 2002. He is a passionate believer that you can be a good goat vet without being an expert.

CPD points

Activities in this course can be recorded under either continuing veterinary education or collegial learning activity.

Pricing Information

Following prices are for Module 2 only

NZVA member
1 module: $500

NZVA non-member
1 module: $775

*Prices are inclusive of 15% NZ GST.

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