More cows for each practice in the future
CASH crisis in the livestock sector has ensured there will be fewer large animal practices in future, according to BCVA president, Peter Orpin.
With fewer cattle and dairy herds over bigger geographical areas, it will mean more cows for each vet. That offered vets a big challenge, he said. "Providing 24-hour emergency cover from a smaller team of skilled vets to clients, over a bigger area, at reduced cost."
Producers and vets were in the same dire economic situation, he said, noting that large animal practices had suffered a 30-40% drop in income. "Vets need farmers and farmers need vets. We want to deliver a high level of service and to satisfy our clients."
But he acknowledged that that threw up an enormous test – how could vets deliver a 24-hour emergency service and retain specialist veterinary skills required by the focused farmer client?
Many large animal practices must decide whether they could meet that change, which, he suggested, would mean retaining at least three vets to cover holidays, sick leave, career development, and cope with preventative planning, on farm and emergency calls.
Some practices in low stocking density areas would struggle to provide that level of service, but had the commitment and skill to want to retain it, he said. "These practices will have to look at ways of growing their businesses through mergers and co-operation with other practices."
Larger practices in areas of higher stock density may have to look at using their resources more effectively. That may mean taking on board other para-professionals -such as foot-trimmers – to help expand the business and provide an integrated approach to health care.
He said that principle could also be attributed to nutrition and consultancy, where tie-ups with local professionals could help to provide that. *
Vets need farmers and farmers need vets, says Peter Orpin.