Episode 3 Vets 24/7


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Episode 3

Series charting life at one of the largest veterinary practices in south Wales. Custard the guinea pig is booked in for a delicate operation.


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This time on Vets 24/7...

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Custard the guinea pig's booked in for a delicate operation with Geraint.

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Got a very obvious pair of testicles there, hasn't he?

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He's very well endowed.

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It's an extremely worrying time for Stripey's owner.

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Surprising how attached you can get to a goat.

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And after an injection, Alex tries to make amends.

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Well done! Oh, I'm so mean.

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Now you're really sulking, aren't you?

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From Swansea to Neath and the pets that they treat,

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on duty night and day with the veterinary surgeons

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of one of the largest practices in South Wales.

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This is Vets 24/7.

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Early morning in Swansea,

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and partner Gareth Field has arrived for his

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first consultation of the day.

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Come on! Quick, let's go!

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You're on my shoulder all the time,

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-aren't you?

-Waiting in reception is a volunteer

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from the Cats Protection charity.

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Hi, Linda, come in.

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So who's this little one today?

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Well, this is one of our little kittens and he has a bad ear.

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Hello, boy. Oh, he's brave, isn't the?

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He's a very confident little boy.

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He was a little stray.

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How long has his ear been bad for?

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It's been about a week or so.

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I've been cleaning it but it's weeping and waxy.

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Can he hear or do you think he's deaf?

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I'm not sure. I click my fingers.

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-I think he might...

-A little bit?

-I don't think his hearing is very good.

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Sometimes white cats can be deaf, particularly cats with a blue eye.

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So the white gene and the blue-eyed gene are also linked to deafness.

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So that could be a problem.

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That wouldn't explain the mucky ear.

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They are born deaf, basically.

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He could just be unlucky and have two problems with his ears.

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-Come on, then.

-Looks like he's bonded to you well, hasn't he?

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Don't tempt me now.

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Have you got any others at the moment, or are you just fostering?

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-I've got four others I'm fostering at the moment.

-OK.

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I am very tempted to keep him.

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So he might not like this bit very much.

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Good boy, aren't you?

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Lovely.

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Good lad. That red sort of lump in there shouldn't really be there.

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It looks like he might have a growth down his ear.

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What we do - need an anaesthetic to have a good look down there,

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so we can sort of check the ear fully and be sure what we're dealing with.

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Hello!

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And then we can decide what to do from there,

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but probably surgery to remove it.

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There's different levels of surgery, how aggressive we are.

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SHE LAUGHS

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Good boy, come on!

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You get him back.

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-You're not a parrot.

-He is a delightful little cat.

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It's got to be done, whatever is best for him. He has to come first.

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The St James veterinary practice has been caring for animals

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large and small for over 100 years.

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The team of 25 vets cover the 70 square miles of the Gower Peninsula.

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Vet Alex Franklin has spent the last eight years working

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in large animal practice.

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We're on our way down to one of our farms on Gower, Bank Farm.

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We're going TB testing there, so we'll visit twice this week,

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once today and once in three days' time.

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And check whether we have TB in the herd.

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Lovely stuff. Let's go.

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Bovine tuberculosis can be a big problem for cattle farmers.

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And Tom Roderick's prize-winning Herefords

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have failed their last few tests.

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Come on.

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There we go. Go on, then.

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If it wasn't for the TB, we'd have a lot more cattle.

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You can't invest in something if you're not going to sell it

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when you need to sell it.

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Alex will be testing all 25 of Tom's pedigree herd today.

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So the TB test is a comparative skin test,

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so we have to measure the thickness of their skin,

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check there's no lumps or bumps and then we inject avian tuberculin

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and bovine tuberculin.

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Give it 72 hours and see what the readings tell us.

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COW LOWS

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Hoping that thing don't shut on her neck.

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I'll get both hands ready.

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Alex tests nearly 8,000 animals for TB each year.

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And it's not without its dangers.

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This is the bit where you might get your hand trapped.

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Myself, I've only had to deal with crushed hands and fingers.

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But you can just imagine, this is a big animal -

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if she wanted to throw her head around while I've got my hands near

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her neck, she could quite easily crush my hand

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and I'd be off work for a little while.

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If the herd don't pass the test,

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Tom won't be able to buy or sell any cattle for up to 120 days.

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Well, the first thing is, if it doesn't pass, it's got to go to slaughter.

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We'll have a rough idea, then, by the time she comes back on Friday,

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whether we are in with the chance of going clear.

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It'll be a long 72-hour wait.

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-All done?

-All done.

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At the main hospital, there's a new arrival.

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Heavyweight English Bulldog Hank has come in for surgery.

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Come on in, right.

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All right, Hank, the bulldog.

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Hey, big man, you doing all right, doing OK?

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Operating today is partner Geraint Jones.

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-Has he been OK since we last saw him?

-Yeah, no problems at all.

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OK, fantastic. What I'm going to do is pop him up on the table,

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have a quick look at him now before...

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Big man, whoa.

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There we are. Right, then.

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So the background to Hank is he's a rescue dog?

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Yes, so he has come into the charity the Edward Foundation,

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which is a breed-specific English Bulldog rescue.

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And you've got a number of other bulldogs as well, haven't you?

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I've got three of my own, yeah, and then we foster.

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-Has he been OK with them? He's been settling all right?

-Yeah, really, really good.

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That's good, that's fine.

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So one of the issues he's got, he's got a very sort of regressed tail.

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And there's quite a lot of inflammation in the skin fold around the actual tail.

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And it's very close to his back passage so they can get extremely

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itchy. So today's procedure is to remove the portion of the tail there,

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and create a new sort of, like, stump, I guess,

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with a bit of skin over it so he doesn't have the screw in the back end of the tail.

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Right, you be good.

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OK, marvellous, there we are. I'll pop him into a kennel

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and give you a ring in a bit, tell you how he's getting on.

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Come on, then, big fella. One, two, three...

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Here we are.

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Good boy. There we are.

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Just down the corridor...

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Just hold that.

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Olaf the kitten is being prepared for theatre.

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Gareth's going to take out the growth in his ear,

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but it's not the only thing he'll be removing.

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Seeing as he's having the anaesthetic,

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we'd decided to take the opportunity to castrate him as well,

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so he's having a bad day, unfortunately.

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So, he's a rescue cat and he's going to potentially have a re-homing

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situation so, understandably, the charity want to have him

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castrated beforehand because there's a big problem

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with stray cats and overpopulation.

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So it's sensible to get them neutered if you're not planning to breed.

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So he's only got tiny little testicles at the moment, so it'll be fiddly.

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Make a little incision, it starts to pop out.

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It's like microsurgery for... There we are.

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It's really fiddly.

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Usually, they're a little bit bigger when you're doing this, but...

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we won't tell Olaf that or else he'll have a complex.

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And two.

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This is all over in two to three minutes, really.

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Olaf's getting the top-and-tail treatment.

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Time to remove the polyp in his ear.

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So that's the growth here, basically.

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So now, what we need to do is gently start to see

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if we can pull it out of the ear.

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There we are. So that's what we wanted. See the little polyp -

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that's its stalk all the way down there.

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That's what's come out. He had his bits off at the back end,

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his ears plucked and cleaned of any problems.

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So hopefully he'll go home a new man.

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On Gower, Alex is en route to her final call of the day.

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It's about a quarter past five and we're just going to see a pig that's...

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The pig's owner is concerned that he is uncomfortable and painful and

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lame. So I'm going to go down and take a look and see what's what.

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When we see pigs,

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they tend to dislike vets immensely and make a lot of noise at us.

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So, hopefully, this one will like me and we'll get on just fine.

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Hello! Hi, guys.

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Oh, dear. Come on, then.

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All right, all right. I know it's sore.

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Oh, dearie me!

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All right, sweetheart. It's OK.

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Oh, you've come for a little scratch, there you are.

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It's all right. It's all right!

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OK, there is a wound there on the front as well and I think it's a

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combination. Yes, we may well have pulled it and it is sore,

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but actually there is a wound as well.

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Infection's got in and that's what's causing the swelling.

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So we are looking at the need for anti-inflammatories and some antibiotics as well.

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There's a good girl!

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These pigs may look pampered but for smallholder Ceri,

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they're not pets. They're her dinner.

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They were booked in for next week, so, yeah,

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they've had a reprieve now.

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They can have a couple... Yeah, they can have a couple of extra weeks.

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SHE LAUGHS

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It puts a bit of food on the table, doesn't it?

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-Grow your own!

-She's going to make a lot of noise when I inject her.

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-Yeah, don't worry.

-Oh, you are so good.

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-Well done!

-What a good girl.

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Oh, well done! That was brilliant!

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-Aren't you a good girl?

-Well done, you.

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That was brilliant!

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No wonder you guys don't like me.

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Oh, well done!

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Oh, I'm so mean!

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See, now you're really sulking, aren't you?

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It's got to be done quickly.

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It's a knack of the job. If I didn't do it quickly,

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she wouldn't get her medicine.

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Oh, are we still friends? Oh!

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Alex has come to the end of another typical shift as a large-animal vet.

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When you're working on farms,

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you're definitely grubby by the end of the day.

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So, yeah, a nice clean-off washes

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the day's chores off and enjoy some evening TV or a stroll.

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Back at the main hospital, when the clients leave for the night,

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the work doesn't stop.

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It's time for Hank's tail removal surgery.

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Here we are, good lad. Here we are.

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To gauge the scale of the operation, Geraint checks his X-rays.

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This is the base here of the back, going into the pelvis.

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And then he's got a load of random vertebrae which are fused together

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and it has given him this twisted appearance.

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And when you think of a normal dog, it has got a big, waggy tail.

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These are all being compressed like an accordion.

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So it is interesting to see how much of the tail we need to take off,

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really, just to remove the problem.

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Geraint only performs around three of these operations each year.

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These are not that common, to be honest.

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Because we are seeing an increase in the population of bulldogs coming

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through the practice, I guess, we are seeing quite a few.

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I do end up with quite a fair share of back-passage surgeries.

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I do quite enjoy them, to be honest.

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They are quite satisfying!

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Doing this surgery to make a difference.

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You know the dog is going to have a better quality of life as a result

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of it, so I think that is the draw to this kind of procedure.

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Geraint has to work carefully to expose the bones in Hank's distorted tail.

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I'm just sort of cutting the vertical body with a saw blade.

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It is not particularly pleasant surgery, unfortunately.

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We're going quite deep into the bottom of the spine.

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There we are. That's the offending article.

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That's the screw tail end there.

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And you can kind of see the kind of skin and muck and everything that's

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gone in there. I just can't imagine just walking around

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with something like that on the back end, you can't itch, can't scratch.

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So he is going to feel a whole lot happier now that is not on his

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rear end. So things are looking good for Hank.

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Come on, then, big man, let's go.

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One, two, three.

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There we are, good lad.

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There we are.

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Hank will have an overnight stay in the hospital to give them a chance

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to recover.

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Definitely more awake now, aren't you, big man? Good boy.

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-HANK GROWLS

-Here we are.

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Just to let you know that Hank's doing OK.

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He's just coming round from the anaesthetic.

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He has currently got a nurse sitting with them, giving him some oxygen.

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So we're going to keep them in this evening now.

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We will provide him with a bit more pain relief.

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And we will keep a close eye on him overnight tonight.

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It's TB test results day.

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Can we put the bar in here, please?

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Sorry, Tom.

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Here you are.

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48.

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Alex has returned to measure the skin thickness of each cow that she

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injected with the TB vaccine,

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to see if there has been any change.

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It depends on what reactions they've had and the difference between them

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as to whether they have TB or not.

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This one is fine.

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It's an important day for farmer Tom,

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as the outcome will affect the future of his herd and his farm.

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We'll just wait. You never know what's going to come out, do you?

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These three should have been gone ages ago.

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What would it mean if it's a bad result?

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There might come a time when I better get rid of them all.

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Again, nothing to worry about, Tom.

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I always tell the farmers if I know there's nothing wrong

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when I get my callipers out, because they all have little heart palpitations

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once these are in my hand. Pushing with all his might.

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So far, so good.

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But the last animal to be tested is farmer Tom's award winner.

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This is Ferrari. The big red one.

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She's won a few prizes in her time.

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I know.

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And 45.

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It's a tense moment as Tom awaits Alex's final verdict.

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So, that's the last cow and we've had a clear test.

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That means that the second clear short-interval test.

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And Tom now will have his movement restrictions lifted and he will be able

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to sell the cattle. So he'll be able to be a farmer again.

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That's very good news.

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It's like having a plaster cast taken off, I suppose.

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COW LOWS

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Back at the main hospital and it's all change for Olaf the homeless kitten.

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He has recovered from the operation on his ear.

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And there's more good news.

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-I'm going to keep him!

-You ARE keeping him?

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-Yes.

-Very nice.

-And I'm going to call him Oberon.

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-Shortened to Obe.

-Oberon.

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That's William Shakespeare, isn't it?

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It is indeed. A Midsummer Night's Dream. So he's going to be Obe.

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Obe. It was...

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It was that one, was it?

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Oh, it's looking so good, I can't tell which one it was.

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-Looks great.

-The other ear looks muckier than this one.

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That looks really good, doesn't it?

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Fingers crossed. That's hopefully him sorted.

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Oh, yes, you're showing me your back end as well.

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We get his back end as well.

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Well reminded, Obe. He's saying, don't forget this bit.

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Oh, that's fine.

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Yeah. The castration has healed up nicely.

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-All sorted.

-Brilliant.

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-Excellent news.

-There we go, little fella.

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Home time.

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He's a little bit special, is he?

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I've been doing it for ten and a half years and I've kept one of my foster kittens in that time.

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So he'll be number two.

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-Oh, nice.

-He is a bit special, isn't he?

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He's cute, isn't he?

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-Bye-bye.

-Bye-bye.

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The vets have six branches across south-west Wales and have prepared

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for all creatures great and small to come through their doors.

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Come on through.

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At the Neath clinic, Geraint's next appointment is with a guinea pig.

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So Custard has come in to be castrated?

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-Yes.

-OK. No problem at all.

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What are the reasons for getting him castrated?

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He is going to be, like, with a herd, because his partner died.

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He was getting quite lonely and he is by himself. We have a big, massive cage for him.

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And we are thinking, he could do with some friends or whatever.

0:18:520:18:55

I can see why he's called Custard.

0:18:550:18:57

So he has got a fairly obvious pair of testicles there, hasn't he?

0:19:000:19:04

He's very well-endowed.

0:19:040:19:08

Well, we were recommended - get him castrated

0:19:080:19:10

and he can live in, like, a herd and he'll be happy for the rest of his

0:19:100:19:13

days, rather than being lonely.

0:19:130:19:16

-So, that's what we're going to do.

-With a load of women?

0:19:160:19:19

-Women, of course!

-HE LAUGHS

0:19:190:19:22

Sounds like he's got

0:19:220:19:24

it all sorted. He's got a good life ahead of him.

0:19:240:19:27

I'll give you a ring later when he's around from the anaesthetic.

0:19:270:19:29

-If we have any problems I'll give you a ring straightaway.

-Great stuff.

0:19:290:19:32

-All right?

-Thank you very much.

0:19:320:19:34

No problem. See you later.

0:19:340:19:35

He is going to be housed with a load of females in some kind of harem

0:19:360:19:41

situation. So fair play to him.

0:19:410:19:43

Sounds like he's got a life of paradise, hasn't it?

0:19:430:19:47

Large-animal veterinary care accounts are nearly a quarter of the practice workload.

0:19:520:19:57

And there are six vets who specialise in this field.

0:19:570:20:00

On call for farm animal emergencies today is vet Kevin Jones.

0:20:030:20:07

We've got a horse with its leg stuck in a gate or in a fence or something.

0:20:090:20:13

So we're trying to get there as soon as we can.

0:20:130:20:18

In Killay, Jess the horse's owners found her trapped in

0:20:190:20:22

this gate ten minutes ago and so they called the vet.

0:20:220:20:26

So you managed to get her out quick, pretty much straightaway?

0:20:260:20:29

It was going in that way.

0:20:290:20:31

So she was this side of it?

0:20:310:20:35

And she put it through.

0:20:350:20:36

-Yeah.

-She's torn all that straight from there now, hasn't she?

0:20:360:20:39

Gosh. Let's go and have a look.

0:20:390:20:42

All right, girl. All right, all right.

0:20:440:20:47

Sh, sh, sh, sh.

0:20:470:20:49

It's very, very serious.

0:20:570:20:59

From where it is as well and it's quite close to so many important

0:20:590:21:03

structures. And I think we might have to do an emergency referral, really,

0:21:030:21:07

to one of the hospitals.

0:21:070:21:09

She is insured, isn't she?

0:21:090:21:11

-Yeah.

-OK. I think that will be best, rather than anything else.

0:21:110:21:15

If she's got any involvement of a joint or anything in there,

0:21:150:21:20

then it needs to be flushed under surgical conditions, really,

0:21:200:21:23

which we cannot do with her in the stable or the yard.

0:21:230:21:26

So we are going to have to sort of send her to a specialist practice

0:21:260:21:29

for that.

0:21:290:21:31

Jess is no ordinary pet.

0:21:310:21:33

She's a prize-winning showjumper.

0:21:330:21:35

We paid a lot of money for her a year ago.

0:21:350:21:37

-It is more than money, though, isn't it?

-Of course it is, yeah.

0:21:400:21:43

Well, definitely for her, yeah.

0:21:430:21:46

With these things, time is the most important thing.

0:21:460:21:49

If we can get them early, get them flushed early,

0:21:490:21:51

start them on treatment early,

0:21:510:21:53

then it's the best that we can do for them, really.

0:21:530:21:58

Good girl.

0:21:580:22:00

She's very sore on it, isn't she?

0:22:000:22:02

All right, girl. Have you got it open?

0:22:020:22:05

There.

0:22:080:22:10

Oh, dear.

0:22:100:22:11

It's been flushed as best we can, you know, here.

0:22:160:22:19

-As soon as possible, really. All right?

-Thanks, Kev.

0:22:190:22:22

All right, no worries. Good luck. Please let me know how she is getting on.

0:22:220:22:26

-I'll give you a call later.

-Thank you.

-OK, all right. Bye.

0:22:260:22:29

Kevin's job is done.

0:22:310:22:33

Jess will travel to a specialist equine centre in West Wales to have the surgical procedure.

0:22:330:22:38

About a centimetre more?

0:22:450:22:48

Back in Neath, Geraint is preparing Custard the guinea pig for his very delicate operation.

0:22:480:22:53

Guinea pigs have got a very open canal where the testicle kind of sits in.

0:22:560:23:01

And they can retract their testicles into the abdomen fairly easily.

0:23:010:23:04

So we're making sure we tie it off fairly well before we remove the testicle.

0:23:040:23:09

So, as you can see, proportionally, in terms of its size, it's quite big, a big thing to have removed.

0:23:110:23:16

He's very well endowed.

0:23:170:23:19

Apparently testicle size is related to how promiscuous the female of the species is.

0:23:190:23:24

So I think that says quite a lot about the promiscuity of the female,

0:23:240:23:27

the size of that testicle. So, normally after castration,

0:23:270:23:32

you still have to leave the guinea pigs apart for about five weeks

0:23:320:23:36

after the surgery, just purely because they'll have some remnants of viable sperm

0:23:360:23:41

in the remaining kind of structures there.

0:23:410:23:44

So it's something that we always make sure we tell the owners

0:23:440:23:47

post-castration.

0:23:470:23:50

In reception, owners Stephen and Harriet are waiting to be reunited

0:23:500:23:54

-with Custard.

-I don't know, it was really nerve-racking and difficult,

0:23:540:23:58

-the wait.

-We wondered if he'd pull through or not.

0:23:580:24:00

I'm glad he did.

0:24:000:24:01

-Here he is.

-Yay.

0:24:030:24:05

He's recovered pretty well. He's eaten cucumber more or less from coming round from the anaesthetic.

0:24:050:24:11

So I'll just show you it.

0:24:120:24:14

-There he is, OK?

-Yeah.

-There you go.

0:24:170:24:21

Oh, my little baby.

0:24:210:24:23

Good to see him, Harriet?

0:24:230:24:25

Yeah.

0:24:250:24:27

Thank you.

0:24:280:24:29

Goodbye. Thank you very much.

0:24:290:24:33

Ten miles away in Ystradgynlais,

0:24:360:24:38

and large-animal vet Kevin is responding to another emergency.

0:24:380:24:43

We're going to see a goat now that apparently isn't very well.

0:24:430:24:46

I don't know a lot about it at the moment apart from the fact that she is a little bit off-colour,

0:24:460:24:50

not herself.

0:24:500:24:52

And she's got red or brown discoloured urine.

0:24:520:24:54

Smallholder Sammy is seriously concerned about her eight-year-old goat, Stripey.

0:24:560:25:01

It's surprising how attached you can get to a goat.

0:25:010:25:05

I know.

0:25:070:25:08

If we can get her up on her feet.

0:25:080:25:10

-One more.

-There we go.

0:25:100:25:12

Good girl. Good girl.

0:25:120:25:14

-I got you, I got you.

-Is she able to stand up?

0:25:140:25:18

She's very weak, isn't she?

0:25:190:25:21

-Yeah.

-She's showing some worrying signs.

0:25:210:25:24

OK? She's pale, so she's a little bit anaemic,

0:25:240:25:28

because she might be losing blood somewhere,

0:25:280:25:30

so there's a possibility she could have a problem either in her

0:25:300:25:33

bladder, her kidneys or her reproductive tract and she's losing some blood that way.

0:25:330:25:37

And she's not a youngster.

0:25:370:25:38

And she's not a youngster.

0:25:380:25:40

I don't want her to suffer if that's the case.

0:25:400:25:42

I would rather...

0:25:420:25:44

I know it's a horrible thought, but if she's in pain,

0:25:440:25:49

I would rather put her out of her misery than to suffer.

0:25:490:25:52

If you don't want to put her through anything,

0:25:530:25:55

then putting her down would be the sensible option.

0:25:550:25:58

And I think, really, from the signs and her age,

0:25:580:26:02

I think I am pretty more inclined to maybe go with that.

0:26:020:26:05

-OK.

-All right?

0:26:050:26:06

Yeah.

0:26:060:26:09

STRIPEY CRIES

0:26:090:26:11

You can see how uncomfortable she is and I definitely think you are making the right decision.

0:26:110:26:17

STRIPEY CRIES

0:26:170:26:19

CRYING STOPS

0:26:370:26:40

Oh, darling.

0:26:430:26:44

She's gone.

0:26:520:26:54

She went really lovely.

0:26:540:26:55

It was really quick.

0:26:550:26:58

It's a relief, to be honest.

0:26:580:27:00

Yeah. Well...

0:27:000:27:03

She's at peace now.

0:27:040:27:06

It's better. It's a relief, really.

0:27:060:27:11

It's a sad day for Sammy.

0:27:110:27:14

But putting animals to sleep is an important part of a vet's job.

0:27:140:27:18

Every one is hard.

0:27:180:27:19

You know, when you have done it, you know that that animal was feeling

0:27:190:27:23

unwell, is in a better place, definitely.

0:27:230:27:26

At the main hospital, it's a big day for Hank.

0:27:310:27:34

HANK YELPS

0:27:340:27:35

He's been given the all-clear to go home with his foster carer.

0:27:370:27:40

Come on, then. Who's this?

0:27:400:27:42

So he looks a little bit strange with his bald back end.

0:27:440:27:47

You can see this is a bit shaved-up.

0:27:490:27:52

This is the incision here, it's looking nice and clean and dry.

0:27:520:27:55

It's been taken flat, so he's no longer got a tail at all, really.

0:27:550:27:59

He's been fine. He's just been a little bit stressed, I think,

0:27:590:28:02

being here. Good to see him?

0:28:020:28:05

Yeah, it's great.

0:28:050:28:07

I don't think he agrees.

0:28:070:28:08

No, he's not happy, is he?

0:28:080:28:09

I think he's sulking. You may need to bribe him when you get home.

0:28:090:28:13

A little bit of cheese.

0:28:130:28:15

Come on, then, buddy.

0:28:150:28:17

Not too keen. You don't want to stay here, mate.

0:28:190:28:21

Nothing fun happens at the vets'.

0:28:210:28:23

Come on. Let's hoist him up, get going.

0:28:230:28:26

Come on.

0:28:260:28:28

Oh! Back on your feet. Well done.

0:28:280:28:30

-There we go.

-Good boy. Come on, then.

0:28:300:28:32

Thanks very much.

0:28:340:28:35

It's all right, no problem.

0:28:350:28:37

He wasn't too keen to go, was he?

0:28:380:28:40

But I don't know why he wanted to stay - nothing fun happens here.

0:28:400:28:43

Documentary series charting a week in the life of St James Vets, one of the largest veterinary practices in south Wales. In this programme, Custard the guinea pig is booked in for a delicate operation, Gareth treats a deaf kitten called Olaf, and will farmer Tom's herd of pedigree cattle finally pass their bovine tuberculosis tests?