Series charting life at one of the largest veterinary practices in South Wales. Vet Alex tries to save a pony with colic and there is a special delivery at the surgery.
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This time on Vets 24/7,
partner Ifan Lloyd is taking no chances with some angry cows.
Calm down, dear!
Vet Sarah Martin has her hands full with a special delivery.
It's like One Born Every Minute, isn't it?
And Alex Franklin needs a strong stomach
as she tries to save a pony with colic.
It's not a very nice smell down there and taste, I must say.
From Swansea to Neath, and the pets that they treat, this is a week
in the life of one of the largest veterinary practices in South Wales.
This is Vets 24/7.
Swansea, and for over 100 years,
the St James vets have been caring for pets.
Today, Helen and Gavin are visiting with their 11-year-old
Jack Russell, Max, who's been losing weight.
He is one of my kids, so I've got two others in the house and they're
all treated like babies, so yeah, they're part of my family, really.
So whatever I do for my kitten or for my daughter, I would do for them. So, yeah.
Just got to get him checked, make sure he's OK now.
Max and his owners are hoping vet Alex Franklin will be able to help them.
Lovely. So you've seen my colleague Gareth in Neath, haven't you? OK.
-So, anything else? Any other changes or concerns?
-He's very lethargic.
He sleeps an awful lot these days. He's normally very energetic.
-His appetite isn't the greatest.
-Is that normal for him?
No, he's normally a very good eater.
-That's his collar that it would normally be on.
-OK. How long...
-What sort of period are we talking about?
-Oh, a few weeks.
Probably about four weeks.
Three to four weeks, something like that. We've noticed a decline.
We're going to start with full bloods, check all his organ systems.
We'll then proceed to a scan of his abdomen, OK?
Hopefully, then, we'll have a picture of what's going on. Then, we'll know where we can go from here.
-Yeah, that's fine.
-Come on, then, Max. You're going to stay with me.
-Bye. Thank you.
-Good boy. Bye. We'll speak to you later.
We're not going to jump to conclusions at this stage.
We have to actually work out what's going wrong.
The tests that Max will now face should reveal the answer
to his weight loss problem.
Ooh, can you hear a big dog? MAX WHINES
The practice is on the doorstep of the rural Gower communities
and farmers are important clients.
Vet Rick Barrowman has been called out to an emergency.
We're going to see Mr Lloyd. He's got a cow that's gone down on his yard.
He thinks it might have staggers.
Staggers is a mineral deficiency, which can be life-threatening
and at Cilffriw Park Farm, Alan Lloyd is pleased to see Rick.
What I've done this morning before you've come, I've moved
the cattle out, so that you can have full attention of the cow.
When she was born, she was quite small
and we had to lift her up onto her mother for her to suck the milk.
So she's become a member of the family, really!
We don't give a lot of hope for her.
You'd think this may be the end.
OK, if you can hold the head for me.
The condition staggers is a magnesium deficiency.
But we'll often get a secondary calcium deficiency associated
What I'm doing here is just trickling some calcium with
a bit of magnesium in it into the vein.
I don't believing in ending their life just
because the cow is old, you know?
But you're not going in the big box yet.
She's got to see Wales beat England first!
That's better. There we go.
Stay now, good girl. Good girl.
It seems that Rick's treatment has helped bring the cow round.
-You've got her eating.
Give her an hour or two,
if she's not getting up and about, get her on a bed.
-OK. Thanks, Richard.
-No problem at all.
Look at her. She's eating now. Who knows?
We could be in the Royal Welsh with her next week now!
At the practice hospital in Sketty...
So, who do we have here, then?
..vet Sarah Martin has her own emergency admission.
Ushi, a German shepherd, has given birth to six puppies.
I'll have a little feel and see how things are going.
-is this her first litter?
Her owner, Andrew, thinks there may be more puppies to come.
It's been an hour and a half since she had her last pup and I'm a little anxious, in case
she loses one or it dies inside her cos she's very, very tired.
There's nothing in the birth canal there now.
So what we'll do is pop the scanner on her and see how things are looking.
There we go. If you want to come through, then.
There we go. There's another puppy there now.
So there's definitely one there anyway.
There's no physical reason that we can see why she'd be having
problems having the puppies.
And she's not straining to pass them or anything.
Sometimes, with a big litter, they can just end up a bit tired.
Ushi's reunited with her puppies.
And Sarah gives her an injection of oxytocin to help speed up
the labour and delivery.
Good girl! Oh! Well done, sweetheart!
There we go.
She seems pretty happy now she's got the babies back,
so hopefully now, this should kick-start things again.
In the treatment room, Max is ready for his diagnostic tests.
First, he's undergoing an ultrasound scan with vet Sarah.
So, this is Max's liver up here.
We're looking for any signs of any lumps or bumps on the liver.
And everything looks reasonably all right, actually.
There's no sign of any growths there in the abdomen, which is
good news, but we still need to get to the bottom of the problem.
With nothing obvious on the scan,
the next step is a detailed blood test.
There we go. All done.
Vet Alex casts her expert eye over the samples.
Usually, we would see a good number of white blood cells
and the different types and I've only managed to pick out just
one white blood cell in the whole time I've been looking so far.
Alex has found the answer.
With few red and white blood cells being produced,
it's likely that Max has bone marrow failure.
It's what we would have not wanted to find.
Just have to tell the owners now and have a chat with them
about what we do next and where we go from here.
Things are looking pretty bad for Max at the moment.
The 18 vets who work at the practice are ready to treat
all creatures great and small.
Young entrepreneur Matthew has brought in one of his hens,
who's stopped contributing to his business.
Her name's Flight. And she's a blue silkie.
SQUAWKS AND CLUCKS
I get like 21 eggs a week and 84 a month and I've only got three hens.
Each chick will go for £5 each,
so I get estimated around about £600 a month.
With 25 years' experience, Rick's ready for pretty much anything.
Righty-ho. What can we do for you today?
Well, this is Flight and she's been laying eggs for a year now,
but a couple of days ago, she stopped laying eggs and she's been
sitting in the nesting box, trying to pass it, but nothing's coming.
-Right. She's not egg bound.
-I mean, there's no eggs there.
It may just be a stress-related thing that's set her off.
-How big a group is she with?
-She's with another three.
-Another three chickens. And are they all laying?
-Yes. They're all laying.
One of them's not because she was broody and she
-hatched out two chicks.
-Right. As long as we're bright and well,
all we can do is carry on feeding her and see what happens.
If you see her going unwell at all, get back to us, but as long as
she's well, there's not an awful lot we can do, just come back in again.
Jack Russell Max's condition has been diagnosed as incurable.
His owners have been informed.
There's very little we can do to help him, I'm afraid.
Will he suffer at all if we take him home?
He wouldn't be able to get oxygen round his blood,
so he would go that way...and that wouldn't be nice at all,
but we obviously see him
much different here than you do at home when he's relaxed.
-I'd rather do it now then.
We wouldn't want him to get to the stage where he is struggling.
No, that's what I don't want...
Helen and Gavin have decided
the kindest thing to do is to let Max go.
There's a good boy, Max, eh?
Everyone loves you so much.
Off to sleep then, sweetheart.
What a good boy.
Good boy. He might take a big huff, OK? Don't worry.
-He's gone, OK?
You've done everything in his best interests, guys.
It's just a shame we couldn't do anything more for him.
I think I would be doing exactly the same for my own
and that's the only way that you can relate to it in a day.
It's never nice to have to do that part of our job,
but you're making sure animals aren't suffering and that they're
finishing their life as calmly and as peacefully as possible.
In a makeshift maternity room,
German shepherd Ushi's delivering her seventh pup.
Owner Andrew's on hand to help.
But there's a problem.
-That puppy's not breathing, so I'll have to...
-Yeah, she's not...
Pop it through to the back and put some oxygen and adrenaline, OK?
-You just keep an eye on these.
As Alex battles to save the puppy,
Ushi is giving birth to baby number eight.
That one's back to front. Come on.
Come on. Good girl.
Sarah tries to breathe life into the tiny puppy.
Good girl, come on. Good girl.
But the vets' efforts are in vain.
Unfortunately, that little pup's not made it.
Tried to give it some oxygen and tried to stimulate its heart,
it's not uncommon in a large litter for some of them to be born dead.
Next door, there's some good news.
-It's like One Born Every Minute, isn't it?
-Except she IS having one every minute!
Good girl! This one's alive. Good girl!
-There we go.
-That's the magic noise, isn't it?
-Yeah, good girl!
Yeah, there we go. Brilliant. So, two females and the rest are all dogs.
I was a little disappointed one has died, obviously, but it's
probably nature's way, the strong survive, sort of thing, you know?
Ushi's the proud mum of seven healthy pups.
As well as being a popular tourist destination,
the Gower Peninsula has over 200 working farms.
Partner Ifan Lloyd has been working with large
animals for over 25 years.
When you're driving around Gower on a day like today,
there's nowhere better in the world because the way the light falls,
the shadows and the scenery is just absolutely stunning.
Today, Ifan's visiting farmer
Andrew Oliver on his beef cattle farm in Oxwich.
Andrew's concerned that one of his herd has a condition called
It's a serious infection which can lead to blindness if not treated.
This is a severe one.
Something like this could take a day or two for you to notice.
-First thing I noticed was...
-The runny eye.
-And the weeping on her...
We rely on the farmer being a nurse, being a second vet, almost.
They're the experts on handling the animals.
You want me to tie her round one side now, Ifan? Quite tight?
As tight as you can, yeah, without any... No slack.
Injecting is quite a delicate procedure.
The last thing you want to do with a needle is to penetrate
the eyeball itself.
What I've done is I've injected medication into the conjunctival
sac, which is the space between the eyeball and the socket.
I'm just applying some antibiotic directly onto
the surface of the eye as well. There we are, that's done.
I don't expect her to lose an eye, but I'll ask Andrew to keep...
Excuse the pun - a very close eye on it
and if after three or four days it's still looking very painful,
then I would suggest that I come back and inject her again
and reassess the situation.
The practice operates 24/7,
which means the vets can get some unusual callouts in the small hours.
OK, I'll go out now and see if we can find him
and hopefully, get him sorted.
Vet Sarah's had a report of a badger that's been
hit by a car in north Swansea.
But before she can treat it, she's got to find it.
We have both the cat catcher and the dog catcher.
Badgers can be quite aggressive and they can give quite a nasty bite.
It's quite hard to see where we're going.
No sign of any badger so far. So we may be on a wild badger hunt.
We're looking for a badger.
It's up there on the left.
-OK, is it far up? Or just a little bit?
-It's just up on the left.
OK, brilliant. Thank you very much.
Oh, yeah. There's something by there, isn't there?
Ah, that's a badger.
Oh, there we go. There's quite a lot of blood there.
So, unfortunately, this is our badger here.
Just pick him up.
There we go.
It's too late to save the badger.
And back at the practice hospital,
Sarah carries out a thorough examination.
Looking at her, she's actually quite young.
Her teeth aren't too bad there.
But she does have some injuries, she's broken her jaw,
I suspect she's probably had a smack to the head
and I'd say things have probably been pretty quick,
she probably wouldn't have suffered too much.
A badger is a bit of a contentious animal round this area as well.
There'd be people maybe from the farming community
who wouldn't be too upset to see a dead badger.
But I think in this sort of case,
she's a wild animal who has been hit by a car.
We'll send her off now and take care of her from here.
-How many cattle have you got today then, Andrew?
-15 there. OK.
-Are they all ready with you?
Fairly organised, for once.
Ifan is back at Andrew Oliver's farm in Oxwich for some important
Andrew can't take his cattle to market unless they've been tested.
So we're here to read the test
and to measure the skin thicknesses
where they were injected with tuberculin three days ago.
As you can see,
they're well grown cattle with fairly tidy sets of horns.
This can be a dangerous job,
there are two spots on the neck where the cow was injected three
days ago and I need to have a good feel and a good
palpation of those areas and measure the thickness of the skin.
A positive TB reaction would spell disaster for Andrew and the herd.
I can't sell these without TB testing them.
TB is a huge problem around me. I've been very lucky so far, touch wood.
But it's just ongoing.
As Ifan has said to me in the past, if you keep cattle,
chances are you'll have TB sooner or later.
-This one kicked me on Friday, twice.
Well, keep your distance, then.
-They don't always stand still, do they?
All right. Done.
Yeah, got that.
Calm down, dear!
If you look at my accounts, from an accountant's point of view,
you'd think I was wasting my time, but it is still a lifestyle.
I'm not going to encourage my young sons into it.
If they choose to go into it, then I will,
but it's not the life that I want to encourage, not at present anyway.
-Results, good news.
-Very good news.
Good. That means I can sell them on Friday.
We've been lucky today, but I've no doubt one day it'll happen, but...
And it is all around me, so I am lucky.
Another of the vets who spends a lot of time on the road is Alex.
She has a passion for horses
and has a strong connection to the countryside.
I originally was brought up on a dairy farm
and my family are still farming. I went into horses, myself.
So lots of hands-on experience from a very young age.
I used to have to go and round up the cattle for milking on my little pony.
At Hilston Park Stables, Alex has been called to
check on a poorly pony.
-Hi there. I'm Alex the vet.
-Hi. So this is Nibs, is it?
I'm listening very closely to her gut sounds, OK?
And they're going very quiet very slowly,
they're almost stopping working, OK?
Now, that's not always the best of signs.
Nibs seems to have a serious case of colic,
a stomach condition which can be fatal.
Not many horses like this very much.
There's a good girl.
HORSE GRUNTS I know, I know.
I need to go down into the stomach and not into the lungs.
So, I'm checking when I'm listening, if I'm hearing air movement or
if I'm hearing gut sounds, basically.
And also the smell is...
It's quite a distinctive smell when we get into the tummy.
It smells a bit better. Well, worse.
Would you be able to pour just to about here up with water, for me?
This test will show if Nibs' stomach is blocked with fluid,
a sure sign of colic.
I'm just trying to build up a bit of a vacuum,
so if there is anything in there, it just helps it to come along,
which is why we put a little bit in first.
It's not a very nice smell down there, and taste, I must say.
Well, the good news is we didn't get a lot of reflux, OK?
So the stomach isn't full of fluid, OK? Which is really good news.
I would say what we do at this stage
is we treat her with medications to calm the guts,
get them functioning nicely, and quite strong painkillers as well.
-Aw, you're getting lots and lots of injections today.
It's all to make you more comfortable, Nibby, isn't it, eh?
I think we have to be quite realistic, so if she doesn't respond,
-we really have to be thinking, you know, about our options, OK?
Then we may have to think about what's best for her,
so she's not in pain.
Alex is no stranger to the effects of this illness,
and not just as a vet.
Last year I had my superstar pony, who I won three World Championship
titles at mounted games with... I had to have him put to sleep, and it just
brings it back to you every time you come out to see a horse with colic,
that this is the horrible problem that made me lose my best friend.
Alex's prompt diagnosis was correct,
and Nibs went on to make a full recovery.
At home in Llanelli, Andrew is keeping a close eye
on Ushi the German Shepherd, as she settles into motherhood.
There you are. This is her. Ushi, hello!
DOGS WHINE Good girl.
You can see a bit of cord, there, just about to fall off, now.
That'll be her belly button. That's a little female.
When you get up in the morning and you've been arguing with your wife
or whatever, and they look at your face and they're wagging their tail,
you have that every morning, you know, no matter what. So...
I just love them. I can't help it, you know?
The two smallest puppies are being hand-reared by Andrew.
There we are.
Because they were slightly weaker than the other litter-mates,
basically they didn't have a chance, and overnight, over four, five hours,
they didn't have anything to eat. It took its toll.
There we are.
If she rejects these two now and they don't settle
like their other litter-mates, we have to do this
every three or four hours for the next month.
There we are.
The puppies were sold at eight weeks old,
but Andrew couldn't resist keeping one.
At the large animal clinic near the Mumbles,
vet Sarah Martin is on call.
Right, do you want me to stand along here, then? Yeah.
It's the middle of the night and the middle of the lambing season.
And then we can close the door as needed.
Farmer Dai Court has brought in a ewe who seems to be
struggling to give birth.
Probably had 40, 50 lambs with no problems at all,
and today now I had a ringwomb earlier,
which I managed to solve myself, and this one. So it is funny, you know -
every day, every hour's different with the job.
This ewe is carrying twins
and it becomes clear she can't give birth naturally.
Right, she's not open enough there, I think, yeah.
The best thing now, at this stage, if it's not going to come,
-is we need to go in.
-OK, I'll go and get everything ready.
With no time to waste, Sarah is going to carry out
a Caesarean section, with Dai and nurse Menna assisting.
You're dealing with two lives in there, so we want to get them
out as soon as we can -
get them out, get them breathing, get them living.
If you get your other hand and hold on there as well.
Within minutes, the first lamb is born.
So, I'll come round here with him.
Now it has to take its first breath.
So we give him a bit of a swing, now,
try and clear some of the fluid from the chest.
Pop him down there for a sec now.
With one lamb safely delivered, Sarah's job is not over yet.
He's a big one.
Let's try and get you going now, mister.
Pop you down there a minute.
Two healthy lambs.
All that's left is to stitch up their mum.
She wants to get to her babies, so the sooner I get this done,
Time for Mum to meet her newborns.
There's your babies over there, now.
Now that she starts to lick them, they really come to life.
You know, his mum's there and he wants to get up and feed, now.
She's obviously going to be a good mum now.
I guess probably an equal number of good bits and bad bits, but...
it's worth all the effort that goes into it to see Mum,
two little lambs there, now, ready to go back home.
A happy ending.
This series has witnessed a week in the life of one of the largest
veterinary practices in South Wales.
And during that time, life-changing procedures have taken place.
She's a bit big. My arm's a bit short to actually shake Ifan's hand.
Much-loved pets have been given dignity in death.
SHE SOBS AND SNIFFS
We'll have to...put him to sleep, I'm afraid.
-I'm sorry, boy.
-There we are.
And livestock was treated, too.
Gosh, she's got... COW BREAKS WIND
That were fresh, and all!
And still the caring of animals continues, 24/7.
Last in the series. BBC Cameras capture a week in the life of one of the largest Veterinary practices in South Wales. For over 120 years St James Vets have been treating all creatures great and small from their branches in Swansea and Neath. This time, partner Ifan Lloyd is taking no chances with some angry cows, there is a special delivery at the surgery, and vet Alex needs a strong stomach as she tries to save a pony with colic.