Growing up on a dairy farm spanning six-generations sowed the seed for 28-year-old Julie Corrigan.
The Garrettstown, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow native’s passion for agriculture flourished from a tender age. “When I was small, we had a pet cow called Rosie; she was always the first into the milking parlour,” she told Catherina Cunnane – That’s Farming.
“I used to go pick apples in my granny's garden and feed them to her in the evenings while she was being milked, she loved it!”
“During secondary school, my priority was always to go down to the yard and feed the calves rather than do my homework!” she added.
Julie considered pursuing a career in animal or equine science and the possibility of studying veterinary medicine also crossed her mind. “I always knew I'd never get the points for veterinary medicine, so I did veterinary nursing instead.”
She graduated from Hartpury College, Gloucestershire in the UK with a 2:1 honours degree in Veterinary Nursing Science.
“I found that vet nursing jobs were few and far between near home, so I decided I'd help out on the farm, milking the cows while I was looking for a job.”
“The thing I love most about farming is being outdoors and not stuck being inside in an office in front of a computer all day!”
Julie secured a position as a vet nurse in a small animal practice in Wales the following year; she remained there for nearly twelve-months before uptaking a position closer to home in Arklow in 2015 and then in Tullow in October 2016.
“In June just gone, I made the really tough decision to leave my full-time vet nurse job in Tullow to have enough time to further my studies.”
The Carlow native is currently studying a post-grad diploma in Veterinary Physiotherapy at Harper Adams University, Shropshire in the U.K and is working on a part-time basis.“Unfortunately, there are no vet physio courses in Ireland, so I have to travel.”
“I'm now working part-time two or three days a week in Blessington and fitting in some locum work around that whenever it suits me!”
Julie is no longer involved in the daily running of the dairy enterprise which her father and three older brothers oversee the running of; she does; however,helps her brother to exhibit Holstein Friesian cattle at agricultural shows.
"I help out getting them ready for the show circuit - there's a lot of work in washing and clipping them and making sure they look their best. Halter-training is time-consuming too, as they have to behave well in the ring!"
“It's a part-time course conducted on weekends roughly every few weeks. I started in July 2018 and will hopefully be fully qualified this time next year!”
“I've wanted to do this course probably for the last 8 years, before final year of veterinary nursing,” Julie said.
She completed work placement with an equine chiropractor and a veterinary physio; her undergraduate dissertation focused on kissing spine in horses.
“I've also turned the ACL in my left knee twice so have had lots of physio myself and know just how beneficial it can be for animals.”
“I think there is an opening for it - more dog and horse owners are looking into complementary therapies like physio as there are advances in veterinary sports medicine and orthopaedic surgeries.”
The first year of the course Julie is studying focuses on anatomy, biomechanics, musculoskeletal injury and disease with practicals on initial assessments and gait analysis. The second-year is based mainly around practicals and learning treatments with a number of placement days.
“I'm really enjoying the course; we learn mainly about dogs and horses but also a small amount about cattle which I love!”
“There is a lot of study involved and extra reading and assignments to do in our own time.”
“It's quite tough going fitting it in around work, and then there's all the travel involved too,” she admitted.
Outside of work and study, Julie enjoys horse riding, playing badminton and going to the gym. “I also enjoy art - painting and drawing mostly animals, of course!”
“I often paint other people's pets, mostly dogs and horses, sometimes cows, to earn a little bit of extra money!” the 28-year-old said.
Set to complete her current course next year, Julie (28) relishes the idea of becoming a self-employed veterinary physio “treating both dogs and horses, and maybe even cows”.
“I still enjoy the vet nursing so will probably still do a small bit of locum or part-time work,” she concluded.
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