The veterinarian’s role in nutritional consulting

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Vet with Cow Purdue University veterinarian Mark Hilton believes nutritional consulting with cow-calf clients offers an excellent opportunity for veterinarians to expand their services and enhance their clients’ profits. During the recent Academy of Veterinary Consultants conference, he outlined the potential benefits.

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Chris Hitch    
Guymon, OK  |  August, 12, 2014 at 09:19 AM

I'm sure a vet thinks he's qualified to consult clients on nutrition of their cow calf pairs when in fact they should not. Contact a nutritionist for nutrition concerns.

Cathy Bandyk    
August, 12, 2014 at 11:07 AM

Most, if not all, programs of veterinary study provide minimal nutrition training. As a nutritionist, I try to work in partnership with vets so that we can each offer our own expertise to producers in a unified voice. But I don't give veterinary advice, and in most cases it would be best if the vet didn't give nutritional advice. The fact that there are vets who have invested in earning a separate degree in nutrition should support the premise that earning a DVM does not in itself qualifies you to assume that role.

Matt Hersom    
August, 12, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Dr. Hilton suggested vets do everything but establish a well thought out herd health program. The one week of nutrition in vet school hardly qualifies vet school graduates to dole out nutrition advice, likewise genetics knowledge. The premise is an expansion of vet business model based on revenue and not based on qualifications. On a separate note, I'd like to deal with a situation in a production setting where the cows are fed too much. I doubt that is a common problem nation-wide.

Pat Whidden    
August, 12, 2014 at 02:29 PM

In my career in the commercial feed industry, both veterinarians and nutritionists have been my colleagues. With no disrespect to Dr. Hilton intended, his generalization that veterinarians are qualified to dispense professional nutritional advise is not correct. Most veterinarians' nutritional training is rudimentary at best; in addition they generally do not participate in nutritional continuing education. Cattlemen are better served seeking advice from bona fide professionals within a field.

Colorado  |  August, 12, 2014 at 03:14 PM

One of the things not covered in the video, but that Dr. Hilton did discuss in his presentation at the AVC conference, is that he encourages veterinarians to seek out training in nutrition before advising clients on nutritional programs. He did not mean to imply that all veterinarians are qualified to serve as nutritional consultants. John

m j bakke    
california  |  August, 13, 2014 at 07:52 AM

Vets are trained as DVM's Nutritionists are trained as nutritionists, when do I start practicing medical recommendations ?

Royce Samford    
Ariz  |  August, 13, 2014 at 02:13 PM

Without downgrading the ability of veterinarians who have gone to considerable effort to get a solid nutritional background, most do not have the background and training to do an adequate job of nutrition consulting and sometimes create more problems than were present to begin with. The worst thing in this article's advice is that the first thing listed as an advantage for veterinarians doing nutritional consulting is that it will serve to increase their practice's income. While in grad school, I completed selected courses to cover almost two years of vet school but I am certainly not a qualified veterinarian. That is much more than the one course in "clinical nutrition" taught in most veterinary schools.

Lee Jones DVM    
Tifton, GA  |  August, 13, 2014 at 03:42 PM

Overfeeding isn't a common problem where we are Matt but in the midwest it can be. some farmers put a lot of money in their ration and could save money

August, 14, 2014 at 11:42 AM

Feed salesmen certainly piling on here in the comments section. There are vets out there who understand nutrition...and economics...and livestock performance; not all but quite a few. Most strutting feed company tools don't know much of anything beyond downloading the latest price sheet from the company and pushing the F2 key to sell product. Far too many farmers are taken in by all this, believing first in one feed company, then the next, and the next, and the next, and back to the first to cycle through them all again. Meanwhile the vet is having to patch up all the collateral damage from metabolic diseases misunderstood by and precipitated by the genius feed jockey. Anything to keep your tonnage up, right salespeople?

Mike Campbell    
Pennsylvania  |  August, 16, 2014 at 06:39 AM

Every one on here pointing fingers ought to be ashamed of themselves. A good nutritionist is a good nutritionist no matter what degree they earned. Bad nutritionists come in all shapes, sizes and egos and are learking around every corner to make the next sale. As a nutritionist of 10 years I've seen a lot of bad nutritionist and a few good ones. One of the best nutritionists that I've ever worked with was also a veterinarian with 40 years in both veterinary medicine and nutrition. He had a simple goal...prevent broken cows so someone doesn't have to fix broken cows. I've learned more from him than any other nutritionist I've come across. He's since retired, however there is another nutritionist veterinarian that I share clients with that is also a very good nutritionist. We work together for the best interest of the client. We respect each other and he mostly sticks with the vet work and I the nutrition work, however he has his own clients that he does nutrition for....and they are doing well. My advice to the cattleman out there is to seek out a good nutritionist. Don't just choose the vet because you think he or she is smarter or the feed salesman because he works for a particular company or brand or has the best sales pitch. Do your homework and ask around to see who other guys or gals are working with and seek out a good nutritionist that has your best interests at heart. "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night." Psalm 1:1-2

W. Mark Hilton    
Indiana  |  August, 16, 2014 at 09:14 PM

Wow, I sure did not mean to stir up a hornet's nest on this. I am glad one responder was actually at my talk and heard what I said. Short version: I have a BS in ANSC and took numerous nutrition classes. I have taken lots of CE from MS and PhD nutritionists, and I have never said I am a nutritionist. Most cow-calf clients in my part of the world have no nutrition plan. Round bales are put out free choice and this is the ration. That is never the most cost-effective ration. Many DVM's can help this client do a better job. If we use a scale of 0-5 most cow-calf clients that I have dealt with have a nutrition knowledge score of 1-2. I said in my talk at AVC that I am a "3". That means I can help the 1's and 2's. I also said that if my client has a level "4" or "5" nutrition question then I call a PhD nutritionist and we find the answer. My goal in practice is win-win-win. That means the producer has healthier cattle that have an improved nutritional plan, the producer makes more profit and the veterinarian makes a profit.

Cathy Bandyk    
fLORIDA  |  August, 16, 2014 at 09:22 PM

Carl, I do feel I have to respond to your comment. First, I personally know almost everyone else who has commented, and they are certainly not all "feed salesmen." You are lumping together a well-respected Extension specialist, a retired executive who is now a life and business trainer, and at least one consultant who does not work for a specific feed company. And while I do work for a feed company, my first concern is always for the overall best solution for the cattle producer I am working with . . . a sentiment that is shared by the salespeople I work with, and the peers I am close to. I am sorry you have not had the experience of working with company representatives that can become valuable, professional members of your management team -- we are out here.