You might see anything come in the door of the Beard-Navasota Veterinary Hospital in Navasota, Texas on any given day.
On the day I visited the practice in May, I was delighted to see a miniature Zebu cow with a errant horn that needed shortened and feet that needed trimming, a registered Black Hereford heifer in for AI, a bull being treated for a toe abscess, a horse that needed castrating and much more. Later on a couple of calls there were the beautifully exotic Romagnola cattle and another operation with a whole bunch of skittish Brahman heifers that moved as elegantly and in sync with each other as a herd of deer.
The practice, housed in a former stagecoach inn (remodeled of course!) from Navasota’s wild and wooly early history (an Indian fort is just down the road), originally began in 1957 by Dr. Bryan Beard who was the sole practitioner in the area. David Luedeker, DVM, bought Beard’s practice, and Don Goodman, DVM, bought the Navasota Veterinary Clinic, then the two practices merged into one in 1986. “We were instantly able to offer more services to our clients,” says Goodman.
“We were able to hire other associate veterinarians and part-time veterinarians in our practice,” Goodman continues. The practice radius is about 60-70 miles, but they have had certain clients drive hours to bring animals in. Sitting on 14-acres with numerous pens and excellent working facilities, the practice is able to work and even house livestock when needed. A separate business unit of the practice is the Pharmacy & Livestock Supplies (PALS) which operates as a cash-and-carry animal health supplier (see sidebar).
Near the Brazos and Navasota rivers, the practice sits about 80 miles northwest of Houston, and conveniently just over 20 miles from Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine in College Station. It serves a town of about 6,000 residents and six to seven surrounding counties.
Goodman says the bovine part of the practice consists primarily of pet cows and hobby farmers with an average of a 25-50 herd size, but they also work with some larger beef cattle herds, the largest at 3,000 head. The practice also does work for the nearby sale barn. “The sale barn owner likes the perception of having a veterinarian who is on the premises there,” Goodman says.
“One thing we are successful at is our ability to adapt to changing times,” Goodman says. “When we started in 1986, our practice was primarily dairy – fire engine dairy practice – because Grimes county was one of the biggest dairy counties in Texas. As dairy started to move out, we were able to adapt or change to the smaller cow-calf practices and to the urban sprawl coming from Houston. We still do a lot of production animal medicine with ranches.”