Guy Ellis, DVM, recently posted this article to the BRD Report. Ellis owned and operated Clarendon Veterinary Hospital in Clarendon, Texas, for 16 years of his career prior to accepting his current position as a beef technical services veterinarian with Merck Animal Health.
Seeking the input of a veterinarian early and often keeps producers ahead of potential animal health issues, but this is only half the story. Veterinarians depend on producers, too. Whether the issue is optimizing facilities, coping with environmental stress or managing bovine respiratory disease (BRD), producers are the first to know what works.
Taking the lead from producers starts at the client level. No two operations are alike, so understanding a producer’s facilities, practices, goals, challenges and marketing strategies are crucial to a veterinarian’s ability to help each individual operation succeed. The fine details of the animals’ environment, like temperature range, moisture level, feed source and delivery method, may affect the protocols recommended by a veterinarian. Even a generally healthy herd is worth checking, not only to make sure they stay that way, but because diagnosing what went right is as valuable as diagnosing what went wrong.
To better understand how an idea or product matches up with the unique challenges of each operation, veterinarians have to go beyond the research numbers to the first-hand experience of producers. Innovations like fenceline weaning, the “Bud Box” cattle working facility and rotational grazing systems optimized for specific regions are just a few examples of producer-developed strategies that are now commonplace or growing in popularity.
In the case of BRD, producer feedback has helped the veterinary community determine that products introduced to treat respiratory disease are actually an excellent tool for prevention or vice versa. Critics often attempt to paint beef and dairy producers as mechanical factory farmers, but it is producers’ drive for self-improvement, balanced by their constant concern for animal welfare and consumer safety, that moves the cattle industry forward.
Veterinarians are proud to help make sure each good idea benefits as many producers and cattle as possible. What peer feedback or new idea has been most valuable to your operation? Your answer may be the solution another producer seeks.