I have raised livestock all my life, and no matter how well I care for my animals, I have had instances where I have had to provide medical care due to illness or disease. I have a good understanding of illness and disease in the species I raise (swine and goats), but I still look to my veterinarian for advice so that I can treat my animals effectively.
In my Extension career I am always amazed at how many times I get the call from a concerned clientele asking for advice in the treatment of livestock. First off, I am not a veterinarian, and secondly, my experience as a livestock producer does not give me license to provide medical advice for the treatment of livestock.
I usually state very quickly in these types of conversations that the person on the other end of the conversation needs to work with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment when animals are sick. I am also quick to point out people would not ask a mechanic for doctor advice, so why would you not just go to the expert for advice?
I get many excuses as to “why not”, but it boils down that many times people want to self-medicate their animals because it may be cheaper or they just do not want to take the time to find a veterinarian.
If you have been following the livestock industry, you should be aware there are changes coming in 2017 from the FDA as it relates to the way we will use antibiotics in the near future. These changes will impact the availability of medications and in many cases will require a prescription to purchase the medication or a written feed directive from a veterinarian. That means you will need to have a working relationship with a veterinarian.
To address these changes and developing a vet client relationship an informational meeting on the new Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) which will impact all livestock producers is set for Tuesday, Nov. 15 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Clinton County Extension Community Room at 111 S. Nelson Ave. in Wilmington.
The program is geared to all livestock production. The Keynote speaker for the evening will be John Heins, a livestock producer and a member of the National Pork Board serving as the Producer & State Relationship Manager for the NE Region.
In addition to his talk we will have a panel of local veterinarians and feed producers to discuss not only the feed directive but to address the need to establish a vet client relationship and to answer any question you may have. I encourage all livestock producers to attend as well as any 4-H and FFA family that works with livestock.
The key is to provide proper care for your livestock. This is best accomplished when one has a working relationship with a knowledgeable veterinarian. There may be times when an antibiotic is necessary for the treatment of an illness or disease to protect the wellbeing of an animal and the rest of the herd or flock.
A veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) is defined by the American Veterinary Medical Association as the basis for interaction among veterinarians, their clients, and their patients and is critical to the health of your animal.
A VCPR exists if your veterinarian knows your animals well enough to diagnose and treat any medical conditions your animal(s) develop. Your part of this relationship is to allow your veterinarian to make responsible decisions about your animal’s health, working with you so you understand, and for you to follow your veterinarian’s instructions.
Your veterinarian’s role in a VCPR is making medical judgements regarding the health of your animals, providing responsible medical care of your animals, and giving you advice about the benefits and risks associated with treatment options.
A VCPR can exist only when the veterinarian has recently seen and is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the animal(s) by virtue of examination of the animal(s), and/ or by medically appropriate and timely visits to the premises where the animal(s) are kept. In our family operation, we have our veterinarian on the farm every three months at minimum per year.
Having a VCPR allows your veterinarian to be in a positive position with greater responsibility in the stewardship of antibiotic use in livestock on your farm.
When establishing a VCPR, try to work with a veterinarian that has expertise with the types of livestock on your farm.
The first part is to work with your veterinarian to get your VCPR in writing.
A VCPR means that all of the following are required.
1. The veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making clinical judgments regarding the health of the patient and the client has agreed to follow the veterinarians’ instructions.
2. The veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the livestock within the operation to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the patient.
3. The veterinarian is readily available for follow-up evaluation or has arranged for the following: veterinary emergency coverage, and continuing care and treatment.
4. The veterinarian provides oversight of treatment, compliance, and outcome.
5. Patient records are maintained.
Tony Nye is the state coordinator for the Ohio State University Extension Small Farm Program and has been an OSU Extension Educator for agriculture and natural resources for 28 years, currently serving Clinton County and the Miami Valley EERA.