While the number of vets registered in Ireland is at an all-time high, there is a significant shortage of large animal vets to meet demand on the ground.

The Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI) has formed a new workforce review working group, which is to look at the recruitment and retention of vets.

Some 321 new vets and 126 new veterinary nurses joined the VCI’s register in 2023.

New vet registrations, according to the VCI, are up 6% when compared to 2022.

The total number of vets and veterinary nurses on the council’s register currently stands at 3,529 and 1,263, respectively, highs never seen before.

Of the 321 newly registered vets last year, 85 were awarded their bachelor of veterinary medicine degree from UCD.

The remaining vets graduated from a number of schools of veterinary medicine abroad, with the most popular being Warsaw, which accounted for 29 newly registered vets.

Some 18 vets who joined the register in 2023 qualified in Budapest, according to VCI.

Cork had the highest number of newly registered vets in 2023 with 21 vets joining the workforce, while Dublin (20), Kildare (16) and Galway (11) were next.

However, there were no vets at all registered in Limerick, Waterford, Roscommon, Offaly, Laois, Carlow, Kilkenny, Louth, Westmeath, Meath,Wicklow, Sligo, Leitrim, Monaghan, Longford, Armagh or Fermanagh.

There are a total of 752 veterinary premises registered with the VCI throughout Ireland, most of which (40%) are mixed animal practices.

Just over 30% are companion, 18% are farm animal, 9% are equine and 2% fall into the “other” category.