Dr. Blake Balog is a 2012 graduate of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. Currently Blake is working as a large animal associate veterinarian, at Bow Valley Veterinary Clinic, in Brooks Alberta. Blake also serves on the board of directors for the Western Canadian Association of Bovine Practitioners. His areas of interest include general cow-calf practice, dairy herd-health, and assisted reproductive technologies in beef cattle. Outside of the veterinary world, Blake has a passion for the outdoors, often fly fishing and kayaking.
What are some of the biggest changes you have seen in food-animal veterinary practice during your career?
Albeit early in my career, so far I have noticed that the acceptance of pain control by both my beef and dairy clients has been incredible. Many producers are now choosing to control pain for various procedures and for the treatment of painful conditions, not only because they should, but because they feel it is the right thing to do.
More recently we are also seeing some of the highest beef prices ever which has shifted how some producers are making culling, treatment, and breeding decisions. The high value of beef calves has offered the opportunity for some interesting individual animal treatments and procedures. The high cost of bulls in particular, has many people reconsidering the use of artificial insemination and assisted reproductive technologies as part of their breeding program. Similarly high beef prices has aided in some dairy culling decisions.
What types of changes are you working to implement on farms and ranches?
I hope to at least create a local culture of producers who understand that consumers have become more engaged in where (and how) their food is produced and that it is paramount to the sustainability of animal agriculture. I encourage producers to realize that small changes made to prevent diseases rather than treatment, can have large implications on the quantity and quality of the end product they produce improving the health and wellbeing of their animals and minimizing management steps later in production. Even when you can see there are multiple areas to improve on a farm you have to really only hone in on a few, slowly making several small victories to achieve the end goal. I also impress upon producers to work as though they in the eye of the public at all times. Keeping producers in a proactive mindset about their operation encourages responsible animal production that is also profitable; often this means ensuring to producers not to “let bad become normal”.