Journal of the South African Veterinary Association
versión On-line ISSN 2224-9435
versión impresa ISSN 1019-9128
VAN DER LEEK, Martin L.. Beyond traditional dairy veterinary services: 'It's not just about the cows!'. J. S. Afr. Vet. Assoc. [online]. 2015, vol.86, n.1, pp.01-10. ISSN 2224-9435. http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/jsava.v86i1.1221.
It remains a challenge for the role of the dairy veterinarian to move beyond that traditionally held. In larger herds with a high reproductive workload, we are at great risk of becoming specialist technicians. Instead we seek greater involvement, to deliver comprehensive services and to be recognised for them, personally and financially. Given the frequency of our visits, knowledge and analytical skills we are in a unique position to provide inputs that complement advice given by other consultants. Failure to do so has economic consequences for both veterinarian and dairyman. The opportunity for and value of inputs will differ for every client, and we need to remain cognizant of their motivation. This review article shares perspectives, opportunities and tools that might enable moving beyond the traditional role. It starts with a review of available research describing the dynamic between dairyman and veterinarian and how this might impact an animal health production management programme. A description of the experiences of others follows, interspersed by the personal experiences of the author, working with large total mixed ration-fed herds in the United States of America. The following attributes and roles can be associated with a significant economic impact: gatekeeper; conduit; executor; verifier; monitor; facilitator and mediator; trainer, motivator and coach; applied nutritionist; technologist; champion of animal welfare, food safety and judicious antibiotic use; and confidant. Each is elucidated and described in context, revealing a need for continuing education. The nature of the relationship between veterinarian and client will determine the opportunity for and value of each. The veterinarian is in a unique position to become an integral part of the management team and to be fairly compensated as such. The onus rests on the veterinarian to broaden his/her knowledge and skills and to demonstrate their value.