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Thread: large animal vet shortage

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Mountain Home, Arkansas
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    large animal vet shortage

    This Yahoo story:
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081003/...e_vet_shortage
    struck a familiar cord with me. It highlights just another reason why I gave up my cattle about five years ago. Finding a vet to treat large animals is getting harder and harder all the time. Hard to blame them, the work is difficult and, potentially, very dangerous. Kicks from cattle or horses can be crippling. Even routine procedures are hard on the back. My vet friends have been very candid with me. They say, accurately, that a farmer/rancher looks at his animals as an economic unit. If the cost to heal that animal is too high profit is lost and simply putting the animal down reduces those losses. Therefore, the vet cannot charge what he needs to make a good living from treating large animals. On the other hand, pets are 'family' to many and cost is often not a consideration. Some folks will spend anything to keep little 'Fluffy' alive. And little pets can't kick yer brains out.
    Like many others, I'll bet Steve and Travis do this, I learned to do many things myself and by-pass the vet 90% of the time. Not easy, but, with animals, you do what you have to do.
    Not fun, standing out in the middle of a pasture, during a winter sleet storm, bare from the waist up, your arm up the back end of a nervous cow trying to straighten out a calf wanting to be born. Well....actually....if you saved that calf, at the end of the day, it was worth it. If I were young again, I would go back to that life in a heartbeat.
    'scuse the reminiscing folks. I miss my cows.

  2. #2
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    Jul 2007
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    DSM, IA
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    Mooooooooo....they miss you too Frank

    My hometown still has a couple of vets that treat farm and family animals, but the practice also started a farm/ranch clothing and vet supply store back in the early 90s that is a mulit million dollar company now. Having that steady revenue probably offsets the lower revenue from the vet side.

    I also know of someone that went to vet school to start their own farm only practice but never did. He now works for a very large cattle operation (think real big and real smelly) in western KS as the "head cow doc" as he calls himself.
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
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  3. #3
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    Feb 2007
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    North West Indiana
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    Frank, stop on by, we soon will be sorting and castrating the bull calves! I run them back in with the cows then for a month so that trauma is over then we sort again for weighing and marking to sell or keep to feed out. Low prices of cattle, high feed prices, I have plenty of hay and plan on prices being higher next year as the number of cattle keeps decreasing. I am lucky and have an excellent large animal vet that understands the economics of treating livestock. My niece is finishing up next year at Cornell in large animal vet practice. She probably won't come back to the midwest though as her and her husband enjoy winter activities.
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Shively View Post
    Frank, stop on by, we soon will be sorting and castrating the bull calves! I run them back in with the cows then for a month so that trauma is over then we sort again for weighing and marking to sell or keep to feed out. Low prices of cattle, high feed prices, I have plenty of hay and plan on prices being higher next year as the number of cattle keeps decreasing. I am lucky and have an excellent large animal vet that understands the economics of treating livestock. My niece is finishing up next year at Cornell in large animal vet practice. She probably won't come back to the midwest though as her and her husband enjoy winter activities.
    Can't do it this time. But somebody here might get a surprise visit from a guy in an old white Dodge truck someday.
    I gave up the sorting and cutting early on. Went to the rubber band thing at calving. Kinda risky with registered critters. I developed a theory that a good bull could be identified in the first three days or after about three months. But, in between had too many variables. Personally, I believe the rubber band caused no trauma.

  5. #5
    Its not a crisis here...yet. It shames me that I can have one dog rabies vaccinated for 80 bucks and have 30 sheep injected, dewormed and hoofs trimmed for 60 bucks. Around here its still reasonable and large vets are here, but getting thin.

    That being said, we do a lot of our own work. I was at the barn the other day and and pinned a cow forward as Amy injected an IV into the cow because it had Milk Fever. How many people would do that to Fido??? Just another day here.

    The thing that is getting real scarce here is actually sheep shearers. profession sheep shearers are 6 in number in this state, and all of them are over the age of 50. At 34 and in good health, its one thing I am looking at getting into. My biggest fear is the transition from training to professional...how can you charge someone something for something you are not great at yet?

    By the way Frank, I don't blame you for missing your cows. I forgot how nice it is to have livestock. I know sheep hardly count, but even though they are always here, and there is always something to do regarding them,I like my sheep. Today Alyson and I went out and cut some standing corn for them. The boys have not chopped the corn yet and so I figured I would grab a trailer or two of it and feed it through my small chipper and feed it to the sheep instead of using hay now. It was pretty nice rolling across that hayfield, looking out across the ridges and valleys with the trees in full autumn colors with my 2 year old "helping" to steer the tractor while she sat on my lap. After she wakes up from her nap, we will get another load and I'll be sure to take some pictures.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  6. #6
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    "It was pretty nice rolling across that hayfield, looking out across the ridges and valleys with the trees in full autumn colors with my 2 year old "helping" to steer the tractor while she sat on my lap. After she wakes up from her nap, we will get another load and I'll be sure to take some pictures."

    Travis, what a great word picture. Yer makin' me miss my old tractor and farm even more. I been inside too much lately. Hafta hitch up the ATV and go deer scouting. We are having beautiful weather, I need to enjoy it.

  7. #7
    I am not sure if this beats the word picture or not, but here are some pictures.







    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  8. #8
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    Beautiful country. America has a lot of beautiful places.

  9. #9
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    Floydada, Tx
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    We have one vet that covers almost two counties. Then again it is getting harder to find smal farms that need the vets that much. Most of the larger farms have herdsmen that handle most of the cattle health.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al killian View Post
    We have one vet that covers almost two counties. Then again it is getting harder to find smal farms that need the vets that much. Most of the larger farms have herdsmen that handle most of the cattle health.
    Understand that happens. But it is a symptom of the shortage. Non-vets can miss diagnosis. And, sadly, employees might sometimes take the easy way out and that can be costly in losses.

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