Physicians may no longer do house calls, but K-State veterinarians do -- on-farm services are in demand in Kansas
By Cheryl May
It's 2 a.m. and a valuable cow is having trouble giving birth to her calf.
Who ya gonna call?
For many livestock producers in central Kansas, the answer is the veterinarians at Kansas State University.
K-State's Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital offers on-farm services to farmers and cattle producers in the area and throughout the state of Kansas.
In central Kansas, K-State's Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital provides emergency and routine treatment to animals owned by local livestock producers, said Dr. David P. Gnad, head of the agricultural practices section at the teaching hospital. Gnad, on the right in the picture below, is consulting a client at the veterinary hospital.
"Our production consultations are primarily focused on beef and dairy cattle, because of the importance of cattle to Kansas. We also work with sheep, pigs, llamas and cameliads."
Gnad said K-State veterinarians, assisted by veterinary students, provide on-farm consultations on an emergency basis -- even in the middle of the night.
Other on-farm services include consultations on herd health, production medicine and breeding programs.
"We can provide service on a per visit basis or clients can enroll in one of several herd plans. The herd plans provide a complete herd health package at an affordable rate," Gnad said. "The goal of the herd package is to allow producers an opportunity to choose a herd health plan that fits their operation and will maximize health and performance of their herd. It is entirely up to the client to decide if they prefer a herd health plan or to work on an individual visit basis.
"In addition to The Herd Health and Production Group, we have a Food Animal Medicine and Surgery Group, which works in the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Our local clients can bring animals into the hospital and the group will take care of the animals. The group also receives cases from referring veterinarians for advanced work up and treatment."
For cattle producers in other areas of the country, the answer isn't as simple as it is in central Kansas. There is a worsening shortage of food animal veterinarians in North America, according to Dr. Peter J. Chenoweth of K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine.
"It is ironic that this trend is occurring at a time of greatly increased public concern regarding catastrophic food animal pandemics, food safety breakdowns and animal health risks associated with rapidly increasing globalization," Chenoweth said.
The productivity of the livestock industries as well as rural, regional and national economies are directly affected by the services and expertise provided by animal health systems, in which veterinarians play a pivotal role. Chenoweth says there is an urgent need to create awareness of the problem within the context of national economic and societal needs, as well as the future direction of the veterinary profession.
He said implications of the problem include a loss of rural veterinary services for food animals; and increased vulnerability of livestock industries to exotic disease (including acts of bio-terrorism); increased public health risks from food safety problems; lowered public confidence in animal agriculture and its products; and resultant threats to the national economy and standards of living.