Food Dialogues Blog

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A Veterinarian's Role on Our Farm

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As I drove to our veterinarian’s house through the mountains recently, I started thinking back on the past seven plus years of working together with him. Now, first let me first explain why I was driving through the mountains. We had a cow that needed antibiotics. We did not have any, she needed treated, and we farm in the mountains. He actually lives further in the mountains than we do, so I had to drive to his home to get what we needed.

What started as a veterinarian/client relationship has turned into more of a friendship where our daughter writes him letters and he brings us vegetables from his garden each year. He has taught us so many valuable lessons, acted as our sounding board and assisted with saving the lives of several of our cows. When he retired from the vet clinic, he still continued to do our vet work.

The truth is, we couldn’t do what we do without him. Throughout the years, so many things have come up with our cows that we would never have been able to fix on our own. In October 2013, one of our cows had a displaced abdomen. What that means is that she had a twisted stomach. A cow has one stomach with four chambers. At some point, she laid wrong, or something, and got things twisted. When you spend every single day with these cows you can typically tell right away when something is wrong. We called the vet, he came to the farm and gave us the diagnosis. He decided she needed to have surgery. She was taken to the vet clinic, the surgery was performed and she is still with us to this day.

Last year, one of our cows prolapsed after giving birth. Once he arrived on the farm, it was determined that she could not be moved to the clinic. My husband assisted as he made the most sterile environment possible for her right here on the farm where she lay. He performed the surgery with success and I am happy to say that she is also still with us today.

We cannot even begin to repay him for all the things he has taught us over the years. Our knowledge of dairy cattle illnesses, treatments, etc. continues to grow. This past couple years, our daughter decided she wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up. He takes time to explain everything to her just as he does us, he answers all her questions and encourages her to follow her dreams.

In addition to surgeries, emergency farm visits, sharing valuable information and teaching us new things, he visits our farm on a regular basis for herd health checks. A herd health check is where he examines each of our cows. He checks for pregnancy, overall health if they just gave birth, reproductive health, body condition, etc. We keep these records to help us keep track of when a cow needs to be dried off (stop milking towards the end of her pregnancy), when she will give birth, or if she is having any sort of issue that we need to monitor and tend to.

It’s not a matter of if some of our cows will get sick, it’s when. When you have over 300 animals from birth through milking, something is bound to happen. It could be a cow that was hit by a bully cow who falls and hurts herself, resulting in an infection. It could be a calf who gets pneumonia when temperatures are in the negatives. It truly could be a million things and when something happens we have to be able to tend to her needs and get her healthy again. Not everything that happens on the farm requires a vet visit, not every sickness requires antibiotics but when it does, we are required to have our veterinarian’s approval/prescription for the antibiotics.

From bringing us zucchini to performing surgeries, our veterinarian plays a vital role on our farm in ensuring we are being the best caretakers for our cows that we can be.

To read more from Krista, visit thefarmerswifee.com.

Krista Stauffer is a new addition to U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance’s Digital Voices Council. This post is part of my ongoing sponsored partnership with U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. All opinions expressed are my own. Funded by one or more checkoff programs.