Feedlot veterinarian Scott MacGregor, DVM, MS, Livestock Consulting Services, Idaho Falls, Idaho, says veterinarians “have to diversify and bring value in more ways to their clients such as counseling on everything from carbon credits to in-house studies.” This is especially critical because when feedlot head counts go down, typically veterinary visits decrease as well.

“Our practice will tend to grow during these difficult times because people are looking for different and hopefully better answers,” MacGregor states. “They are less tolerant of average programs. I think feedyard consultants have done a good job compared to other types of veterinarians in selling themselves as cost-effective. People, labor, training, leadership, efficiencies, new ideas and technology are all more important now.”

Sand Hills veterinarian Tom Furman, DVM, The Animal Center, Alliance, Neb., has been discussing new technology and programs such as age- and source-verification in an effort to help market clients’ value-added products. “This has been very successful in our practice and continues to grow,” he says. “Our clinic has spent a lot of time helping producers get age- and source-verified and then helping them market their animals together via internet and local marketing groups. We have not had anyone unhappy with age- and source-verification.”

Across the country in Hagerstown, Md., client education, which includes owners, managers, and employees has been the Mid Maryland Dairy Veterinarians’ (MMDV) greatest tool for keeping clients profitable in good economic times and bad. “Improving labor efficiency, herd monitoring and benchmarking, protocols and standard operating procedures for employees and animal care and use are areas where we strive to help dairymen succeed,” explains MMDV’s Matt Iager, DVM.

“So far our clients have not been reducing veterinary services which makes us feel good that our proactive approach to cow care and herd health has been key,” notes Iager. “Identifying and solving problems before they occur has been an important goal rather than repairing damage that has already occurred. Prevention will continue to be the driver for success and profitability.” 

See Part II, Bovine Veterinarian Economic Series, “Helping Clients in a Bear Market” in July/August 2009 Bovine Veterinarian or archived at www.BovineVetOnline.com