"Do not give up on the goals you set"

  • Subject
    Inspections, farms, animal welfare
  • Target audience
    Welfare inspectors
"In our work as inspectors, we have new challenges every day. We don’t know what will happen the next day. If there is an outbreak of African swine fever, all the activities are directed towards fighting this disease. This is what makes my work so exciting: meeting new situations and people and never knowing what’s next. Previously, my job was only about one species of animal. I worked on a dairy farm for a year after graduating in zootechnics at the University of Life Sciences in Poznań. Working as an inspector was my second job. It was supposed to be temporary, but I liked it and did not look for another one. This job allows me to learn about breeding different species, veterinary medicine, administration and law."

Inspector: Sylwia (30) from Poland

"I am now a senior inspector for animal health and protection. My primary responsibilities are the supervision and control of animal diseases, the organisation of the work of official veterinarians during the monitoring of infectious animal diseases and the supervision of animal welfare on farms and during transportation. My work also involves farm inspections.

Sometimes I visit farms with the highest levels of care and management. The animals on such farms have excellent conditions. The farmers use modern technologies that are not widely used in Poland, which is great to see. Unfortunately, there are also situations where only a bad impression is left after the inspection. Owners are sometimes angry with inspectors if they do not like their conclusions and advice.

My worst situation was on a farm with dead and starving animals. The live animals needed immediate veterinary intervention. My colleague and I fed some of the animals while we were waiting for a car to transport the animals to another farm.The owners were alcoholics and could not cope with caring for the animals. It was a situation where the drama of the animals was combined with the drama of the people. The animals were taken away from their owners, and the case went to court. This is obviously a very exceptional situation.

In general, I think animal welfare on farms in Poland is better now than it was five or ten years ago. Young farmers who take over their parents' farms want to modernise the farm management. They look for innovation and have a good education and knowledge of animal husbandry. Farmers are more open to change than before and do more to follow the rules. Sometimes subsidies are an extra motivation to increase welfare.

It's complicated that national rules sometimes differ from European rules. For example, the EU has different rules for controlling African swine fever than Poland. However, we follow European rules. In some cases, it can be difficult to figure out what to do, but we have learned that for every problem, there is a solution. We use the advice of a lawyer whenever we have such a problem.

My tip for other inspectors is to consult colleagues and solve problems together. We shouldn’t give up on the goals we set for ourselves too soon but keep pursuing them consistently. We have to be patient and at the same time know what we are aiming for."

Sylwia is a veterinary inspector in the Animal Health and Protection Team in the central part of Wielkopolska, Poland. The Veterinary Inspectorate falls under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and is responsible for inspections of farms and transportation.