David Tisdall

David Tisdall

Head of Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Senior Teaching Fellow in Production Animal Medicine



David qualified from the University of Bristol School of Veterinary Sciences in 2006, and spent a year in mixed practice in South Gloucestershire before returning to Bristol in 2007 to undertake a Clinical Training Scholarship in Cattle Health and Production. He then worked in clinical farm animal practice with Langford Vets, a dedicated teaching practice of the University of Bristol for the subsequent decade, alongside a growing academic role within the School of Veterinary Sciences.

He took on clinical leadership of the practice in 2010, and, in addition, the role of Clinical Teaching Fellow in Production Animal Medicine in 2012. Under his leadership, the practice achieved transformational change in the patterns of medicines use, whilst continuing to improve herd health, providing a model for eliminating the use of Critically Important Antimicrobials from UK dairy practice.

He contributed to undergraduate teaching and assessment at all levels of the BVSc programme, particularly the clinical years, and more recently have been involved in both clinical and educational CPD provision. David holds the RCVS Certificate in Cattle Health and Production and has been a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy since 2014.

His clinical interests lie with improving herd health management - to reduce disease, improve health and welfare and increase production - and achieving more responsible medicines use on farm, and integrating the two. However, at my core he would describe myself as a teacher who 'happens' to be a vet rather than a vet who teaches. From the perspective of veterinary education, his interests focus on clinical reasoning development, problem-based learning and student response systems, linking applied clinical epidemiology with herd health management, and responsible medicines use.

David joined the University of Surrey School of Veterinary Medicine in April 2017 as Senior Teaching Fellow in Production Animal Medicine.

Research interests

Clinical practice and veterinary pedagogy, and include responsible medicines use, the use of non-antibiotic treatments for digital dermatitis and clinical reasoning development through the use of online virtual cases.


Veterinary Medicine and Science (BVMSci) programme.

My publications


Tisdall D, Rees G (2015) Using student-authored, farm animal virtual cases to develop and assess clinical problem-solving skills in final year veterinary undergraduates, VetEd 2015 - Veterinary Education Symposium 2015 - Conference Proceedings University of Cambridge
Tisdall D, Barrett DC (2015) The responsible use of antimicrobials in lameness in dairy cattle, Livestock 20 (3) pp. 126-132 Mark Allen Healthcare
Antimicrobial treatments are regularly used in the management of lameness in dairy cattle at both individual and herd levels. However, individual treatments may be prescribed and administered without specific indication and the examination and corrective trimming of the affected digit. Effective non-antibiotic alternatives are also available for use in foot baths as a component of herd level control programmes for infectious lameness. The focus of any control strategy must be on lameness prevention and prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment of any cases. This article explores how antimicrobial use in the treatment and control of bovine lameness can be made more responsible and sustainable.
Tisdall D, Brown WJ, Groenvelt M, Bell NJ, Barrett D, Main DC (2013) The relationship between body condition score and mobility score in dairy cows on four commercial UK farms, Proceedings of the 17th International Symposium and 9th International Conference on Lameness in Ruminants, Bristol, UK, 11-14 August 2013 pp. 275-276 University of Bristol
Reyher KK, Barrett DC, Tisdall D (2017) Achieving responsible medicines use on farms ? communicating with farmers, In Practice BMJ Publishing Group
Tisdall D, Barrett DC (2013) A practical approach to medicines audits at farm and practice level, Proceedings of BCVA Congress 2013 British Cattle Veterinary Association
Tisdall D, Barrett DC (2014) Medicine audits at farm and practice level ? a tool to teach responsible use of medicines in food producing animals, Proceedings of VetEd 2016 - Veterinary Education Symposium 2014 University of Bristol
Tisdall D, Reyher K (2016) Emphasising the relevance of epidemiology and statistics to clinical farm animal practice, VetEd 2016 - International Symposium of the Veterinary Schools Council - Conference guide (amended post conference) pp. 55-55 Veterinary Schools Council
Despite the fact that clinical epidemiology underpins farm animal practice, undergraduate veterinary students often struggle to appreciate the usefulness and relevance of the statistics and epidemiology course, which is delivered during the second year of the BVSc programme at the University of Bristol, limiting their engagement and restricting learning. There are a number of potential reasons: " Statistical concepts such as confidence intervals and p-values are more strongly associated with research. " The application of epidemiological principles to practice is often not obvious or explicit. For example, students may have seen a veterinarian discussing incidence rates of mastitis, the median calving interval or the prevalence of Johnes disease with farmers, but not made the connection with epidemiology. " Data analysis may not feel like a clinical skill and can seem abstract, artificial and disconnected from practice. To address these and to familiarise students with software tools such as Interherd (Pan Livestock Services) in preparation for final year farm rotations, a series of interactive, computer-based workshops were introduced, as part of an embedded vertical theme of evidence-based veterinary medicine. Second year workshops were taught by a farm animal veterinarian alongside a veterinary epidemiologist, and reinforced by a group task which required the software. Real-life examples were integrated throughout, as students got to grips with data from the University of Bristol?s dairy farm. Fourth year workshops, delivered by the same veterinarian, integrated with herd health teaching. Final year students work independently to apply these skills to investigate herd-level problems during the population medicine rotation.
Groenevelt M, Main DCJ, Tisdall D, Knowles TG, Bell NJ (2014) Measuring the response to therapeutic foot trimming in dairy cows with fortnightly lameness scoring, The Veterinary Journal 201 (3) pp. 283-288 Elsevier
Lameness scoring (0?3) was carried out on four UK dairy farms during the housing period over three consecutive years (2010?2012). At the start of the study cows were matched by parity and stage of lactation and randomly allocated into a treatment (TX) and a control (CX) group. Cows were enrolled when two sound scores (0 or 1) were followed by a lame score (2). Farmers were immediately notified of score 3 cows, which were then excluded from the study, irrespective of whether they were in treatment or control groups. The animals in the TX group received treatment 3?48 h after being scored lame. Farmers remained blind to the treatment group. Throughout the study the participating farmers continued to identify and treat lame cows according to their usual approaches, this included treating animals in the CX or TX group if they so chose. The fortnightly lameness scoring and treatment of the TX group resulted in higher cure rates at each scoring session following treatment when compared with the CX group (P
Tisdall D, Reyher KK, Barrett DC (2014) Using medicines audits to monitor and drive responsible medicines use in farm animal veterinary practice, Proceedings of One Health: Making a powerful concept work for infectious disease Royal Society of Medicine
Leach KA, Tisdall D, Bell NJ, Main DCJ, Green LE (2012) The effects of early treatment for hindlimb lameness in dairy cows on four commercial UK farms, Veterinary Journal 193 (3) pp. 626-632 Elsevier
An ?early threshold? protocol for treating cows within 48 h of being detected lame in one or more hind limbs at fortnightly mobility scoring was tested on a randomly selected group of cattle on four commercial dairy farms. The outcomes of the early threshold treatment for first cases of lameness were compared with those of the farmers? conventional approach to treatment. The early threshold schedule resulted in a much shorter time to treatment than the conventional approach, for which the median time from the cow first being scored lame to treatment was 65 days. The early threshold group presented with less severe foot lesions and cattle were less likely to be selected for further treatments by the farmer than conventionally treated cows. Early threshold treatment reduced the prevalence of lameness 4 weeks after treatment, compared with controls. A clear effect of the early treatment on milk yield was not detected.
Tisdall D (2016) Using lecture capture software to produce training resources to support population medicine teaching to veterinary undergraduates, VetEd 2016 - International Symposium of the Veterinary Schools Council - Conference guide (amended post conference) pp. 41-41 Veterinary Schools Council
Being able to apply the principles of clinical epidemiology to farm animal practice is essential for the delivery of effective herd health management (HHM) and is an important skill for veterinary undergraduates to develop. To do this efficiently, students need to gain exposure working with a range of commonly-used software such as Interherd (Pan Livestock Services) or Total Vet (Sum-IT) to interrogate real-life data; explaining patterns of disease, integrating their findings with on-farm observations and recognising opportunities for intervention. Use of such software is often not intuitive and students consistently find getting-to-grips with using them to apply basic principles of clinical epidemiology a challenge. Examples of common epidemiological challenges include; " Applying the concepts of incidence and prevalence " Identifying the ?at-risk? population " Applying an appropriate lag period " Developing a logical approach to data analysis Examples of common software challenges; " Importing farm data " Successfully navigating the menus to identify the correct report " Understanding the different terminology used to describe the same parameters A series of short ?how-to guides? and ?walk-throughs? are being developed using Mediasite Desktop Recorder (Sonic foundry inc), which simultaneously records screen footage and audio, in order to address these challenges. These will be made available through the University of Bristol?s online learning environment to support population medicine teaching during final year farm animal rotations, and reinforce existing workshops on applied clinical epidemiology and HHM delivered in second and fourth year, respectively. Student access will be tracked to assess engagement and an online questionnaire is planned to assess the impact.
Groenevelt M, Main DC, Tisdall D, Bell NJ (2013) Recovery rates of different lesion classes following early treatment, Proceedings of the 17th International Symposium and 9th International Conference on Lameness in Ruminants, Bristol, UK, 11-14 August 2013 University of Bristol
Tisdall D, Reyher KK, Barrett DC (2015) Making farm animal practice work without critically important antimicrobials, Cattle Practice - Proceedings of BCVA Congress 2015 23 (2) pp. 306-309 British Cattle Veterinary Association
In the UK, the role of farm animal veterinary surgeons (VS) is central to ensuring the responsible and sustainable use of antimicrobials in food producing animals under their care. There is particular concern over the use of certain classes of antimicrobials, deemed protected antimicrobials (namely third and fourth generation cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones and macrolides) in farm animal practice because of their critical importance in human medicine. Between 2010 and 2014, Langford Farm Animal Practice (LFAP), a clinical teaching practice of the University of Bristol achieved a practice-wide reduction of 87% in the use of such antimicrobials. No fluoroquinolones have been used by LFAP since 2009. A collaborative approach, working alongside farmers to improve herd health management (HHM) and informed by systematic farm-level medicines auditing coupled with farmer training and intentional changes in prescribing policy, has proved highly successful in achieving this change.
Tisdall D, Barrett D, Reyher K (2016) Developing a multifaceted, collaborative, practice-wide approach to responsible medicines use on farms, Proceedings of 29th World Buiatrics Congress
Reyher KK, Barrett DC, Tisdall David (2017) Achieving responsible antimicrobial use: communicating with farmers, In Practice 39 (2) pp. 63-71 BMJ Publishing Group
Communicating with farmers is key in achieving responsible antimicrobial use on the farm. With the farmer and vet working together and using their own individual knowledge and expertise, the change in antimicrobial use can be sustained and work for both parties. This article discusses the issues surrounding antimicribial use and why there may be a difference in opinion between the vet and the farmer. It provides tools that vets can use to improve their commmunication with the farmer to create a better working relationship.
Tisdall David, Reyher KK, Barrett DC (2017) Achieving responsible medicines use at practice and farm level, In Practice 39 (3) pp. 119-127 BMJ Publishing Group
Medicines use in farm animals and the potential for antimicrobial resistance development and transfer to humans is of increasing scientific, public and political concern. Veterinary surgeons must take the lead in driving change: challenging the currently accepted norms of prescribing and administration, advocating and adopting an evidence-based approach to therapeutic decision making, and monitoring patterns of medicines use to identify opportunities for intervention and measure impact, while at the same time partnering with farmers to improve herd health management. This article discusses how such a multifaceted, collaborative approach, which involves the whole practice team working in partnership with farm staff, can be highly successful in achieving and sustaining more responsible medicines use on farm and improving animal health.
Trace Christopher, Tisdall David (2018) Virtual case creation to enhance clinical reasoning teaching, Proceedings of the VSC Veterinary Education Symposium (VetEd) 2018 Veterinary Schools Council (VSC)
An exercise was introduced into a 3rd year professional skills module; students created branching virtual cases using PowerPoint as a means to improve their understanding of clinical reasoning. They were surveyed on their opinions of the teaching activity, and reported that it was enjoyable, although difficult.
Trace C., Tisdall D. (2018) Creating virtual cases using PowerPoint, Proceedings of the VSC Veterinary Education Symposium (VetEd) 2018 Veterinary Schools Council (VSC)
Tisdall D., Trace C. (2018) How do we really think about clinical cases? Unmasking the clinical reasoning process, Proceedings of the VSC Veterinary Education Symposium (VetEd) 2018 Veterinary Schools Council (VSC)