Solving common veterinary problems in lifestyle block animals

VetScholar (NZVA's online learning platform)
Dairy Cattle

The number of lifestyle blocks and small hobby farms are rising rapidly in New Zealand especially around the larger cities and towns. This online course offers a fantastic opportunity for veterinarians to improve their knowledge and confidence during the handling, examination and treatment of backyard pigs, goats, alpacas, llamas, mini ponies, and donkeys. Lifestyle block animals are frequently all kept together in the same paddock and are often overfed, underfed, or have a poor unbalanced diet. The course will also cover the common surgical procedures and medical problems encountered with. Lifestyle block animals’ diseases and health conditions of LSB animals are often entirely preventable if the owners were properly educated on the basics of animal husbandry. Biosecurity and welfare standards are a particular issue on lifestyle blocks and veterinarians need to be knowledgeable in these critical areas. The Welfare of all animals kept on these types of properties will be covered in the course and ways to improve client education through improved veterinary confidence and communication will be discussed. Back yard farm animals are in a grey area between companion and production species. This course will allow you to confidently breach the gap!


This course will feature online pre-recorded lectures as well as weekly tutorials.


  • Backyard and free-range pigs
  • Alpacas and llamas
  • Backyard donkeys/ponies/mules/horses
  • Backyard and tethered goats

Learning objectives

  • Understand the new MPI standards and regulations and bio security issues for LSB farms 
  • Gain clinical confidence with diagnosis, treatment, and basic surgery of conditions in pigs, alpacas, goats, AG day pets, mini horses, and donkeys 
  • Learn tips on how to improve animal welfare through effective client education

Learning outcomes

  • Increased vet confidence and improved client confidence in the veterinarian’s ability to help their animals.  
  • Increased revenue from lifestyle clients both through call outs, management plans and sales.  
  • Improved welfare outcomes, better diagnostic, and surgical management, better understanding of management and health requirements.  
  • Better welfare for animals = decreases possible welfare infringements, less disease and animal loss, more confident in management of their animals, confidence in when to call the vet.


Cristin Dwyer | BVSc BS (cum laude): Cristin is a Senior Practicing Veterinarian at the Massey University Farm Services department. Cristin first became introduced to camelids as an undergraduate Animal Science student in the US. Once qualified as a veterinarian from Massey University in 2008, Cristin worked in the Canterbury region of New Zealand in a rural mixed practice clinic. It was there that she was first exposed to routine medicine and emergency camelid care. After four years in private practice she returned to Massey to join the Farm Services team. Due to the retirement of a senior staff member, Cristin was asked to take on the responsibility of the camelid medicine and referral service for Massey. For the last seven years she has promoted the foundational knowledge of camelid handling and clinical exams to veterinary students through the introduction of a camelid herd at LATU and through the integration of camelid medicine into the curriculum. She founded the Lifestyle Block Discussion nights hosted through Massey University to promote improved knowledge and practical husbandry skills to all local small block owners. This will be her third NZVA lifestyle course focused on promoting camelid care, medicine and welfare.

Naya Brangenberg | BSc BSc MSc DVM: Naya is a veterinarian and animal welfare inspector with MPI. She is from the USA with a background in both biology and wildlife biology. Before joining the Post Border Animals Response Team in MAF Biosecurity New Zealand in 2007 she worked in private practice (both mixed and small animal) in the Wellington region. In 2011 Naya and her husband started a small commercial pig herd of heritage breed pigs and now manage a 70 sow farrow-to-finish free range pig farm in the Wairarapa. They produce pork for supply to chefs and specialty small-goods producers. Naya also completed a MSc in Veterinary Epidemiology and Veterinary Public Health and hopes in the near future to open her own small farm veterinary service.

Michelle Dicken | MA VetMB CertAVP(ESST) FANZCVS (Equine Medicine): Michelle graduated from the University of Cambridge and worked mainly in Wales in mixed practice for four years before moving to New Zealand in 2003. She has worked in both the North and South Islands before completing a Residency in Equine Medicine at Massey University from 2008-2011. She has a RCVS Certificate in Equine Soft Tissue Surgery and both Membership and Fellowship in Equine Medicine with the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists. Michelle is a Registered Specialist in Equine Medicine and lives on a beef and sheep farm in Otago where she also breeds Warmbloods on a small scale. Michelle does private referral work, is involved in research into Equine Metabolic Syndrome funded by the NZERF, has tutored Massey University MVM papers Advanced Studies in Equine Lameness and Equine Gastroenterology and writes for the NZ Horse and Pony magazine.


NZVA members: $500 | Non-members: $1000


Contact: Rebecca Jones | 04 831 1385 |

Sessions for this event

Solving common veterinary problems in lifestyle block animals
Jun 7, 2021