Treating a sick calf may can be a challenge with all the regulations on shared-class antibiotics—unless you have a solid V-C-P-R.
“VCPR is a veterinary-client-patient-relationship. Each state has a marginally different definition of what that means legally. For the most part, it is the responsibility of the veterinarian into your operation and then how you interact with your veterinarian in return,” says Keelan Lewis, DVM, of Salt Creek Veterinary Hospital in Olney, Texas.
“So with the lack of medications being available over the counter now, having that established VCPR is more and more important to the producer,” she says.
Relationship goals must be clear and communicated: do you want a lot of contact, or just damage control?
“The concept of a VCPR being scary in my mind, is only if you do not have a VCPR or you're not willing to look and reach out to have that relationship with a veterinarian. So an example of that is constant interaction with a veterinarian and persistent decision making back and forth between the two of you for your operation. Look and find, and search and define your goals and then interview and find a veterinarian that fits that. And it is going to be a massive benefit,” Lewis says.
Your chosen area veterinarian may still be 60 miles from the ranch—all the more reason to establish those professional relationships.
“There's actually a lot of discussion of whether there is a shortage of food animal veterinarians or if there is a poor distribution of food animal veterinarians. From a producer standpoint, a shortage of veterinarians to me only means that you need to support your VCPR even more thoroughly. So reach out to your existing veterinarians, describe to them how your operation goals could help them build their practice larger, help you have more availability to the veterinarian,” she continues.
In the past, veterinarians were not as readily available, interactions were strictly business. But expectations are evolving.
“Newer generation of veterinarians and sometimes producers will express this to me as a concern, is that they want to be more actively involved in your operation, where they demand that in order to get [inaudible 00:05:52] prescriptions. They want to help you on a day to day basis. They want to know what you're doing is a benefit to production. And if we can switch our mindset from having a VCPR as an obstacle to having a VCPR as a benefit, then all of a sudden production across the board has benefitted,” Lewis says.
To foster innovation, Lewis started a Producers Alliance at her practice to bring like-minded cattlemen together.
“So educationally, things that are of interest to them market wise, feed wise, you know that group has reached out as far as to buy feed together. They buy drugs together. We interact on a routine basis about production goals across the whole group. They have put together calves and sold calves together. So our clinic initiated that. The group of producers as a whole have taken it way farther than we ever anticipated it would go,” she says.
It starts with sorting out needs and goals for a cattle enterprise, then finding the veterinarian who best fits into those plans.