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Barrie Gibson: From Farm Holidays to a Full-Time Career in Animal Welfare

I have always had a passion for agriculture and animals. It started at an early age on farm holidays to Wales and Shropshire, that’s where I got my first taste of cattle and sheep production. I studied animal science at college and after I graduated, I got a job as an animal health and welfare officer with Devon and Somerset Trading Standards. I worked in that role for 14 years before coming to RSPCA Assured in 2016 where I am now a farm assurance assessor.

Role as an RSPCA Assured Field Assessor

I assess in the South East and East Anglia but I often end up travelling all around the country. I carry out routine farm assurance assessments on farms with laying hens, pullets, pigs, beef cattle, sheep, dairy cattle and rainbow trout.

The Most Important Part of Being an RSPCA Assured Assessor: The Welfare of Farm Animals

The most important part of my role is assessing livestock and making sure animals are being kept to higher welfare standards; that’s what I do and the reason that RSPCA Assured exists.

I am fair and consistent in my approach and this gives producers and scheme members confidence in RSPCA Assured. It lets them know they are assessed on a level playing field with their peers. I enjoy being able to celebrate the great job farmers are doing, and helping them understand where they could improve.

Working For RSPCA Assured, From Success Stories to Meeting Enthusiastic Farmers

There’s a fantastic sense of team spirit at RSPCA Assured, whether that’s the assessor team or the wider RSPCA Assured, it feels like a family. Someone is always there with advice or words of encouragement. One of my favourite parts of the job is meeting enthusiastic farmers and producers, who have a real passion for farming and their livestock. We have some wonderful members who care for their animals and are proud of what they do. I love being out on farms and seeing their fantastic livestock.

As a senior assessor, I get to work a lot with recruits. I train them to be able to assess new species of farmed animals and sign off on their proficiency. It’s great to be able to mentor them not just in a professional capacity but also to help them grow in their careers. All in all, I love being part of the agricultural industry and seeing higher welfare being put into practice.

Gardening, DIY, Fishing and More: Barrie’s Interests Outside of Work

I love being outdoors! Whether that’s working in the garden, taking walks with our spaniel, going fishing, or any other country pursuit. We rarely sit down and just watch TV. I’d rather be doing DIY or keeping busy around the house in some way. We’re also expecting our first child in a couple of months, so things are probably going to change quite a lot. Starting with far less sleep, I imagine.

Meet Tia the Sprightly Sprocker, as well as Barrie’s Nature Garden

We have a Sprocker Spaniel named Tia. She’ll be 15 in January, but she still acts like a puppy! She loves playing with her ball and jumps in the water any chance she gets. She’s a funny little dog and has some strange ways, but she never fails to bring a smile to our faces.

As well as that, I have a few aquarium fish indoors at the moment. They’re very relaxing to watch, especially during the evenings. I also have my small nature garden, and there’s a whole host of bees, butterflies and bugs to watch.

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