When David Bechtol is honored at the 2013 Feeding Quality Forums with the Industry Achievement Award, colleagues and clients will catch a glimpse of recent history that laid the foundation for many of the ways they handle cattle health today.
“As one of the very first veterinary feedlot consultants, he evolved with a very young cattle feeding industry as it was starting up and maturing,” John Pollreisz said. “The role of the veterinary feedlot consultant grew as the industry did – it went hand in hand.”
Pollreisz, now managing veterinarian for beef cattle at Zoetis, started working for Bechtol at the Palo Duro Consultation Research & Feedlot practice in the late 1980s, when the practice had 11 years of work behind it. Bechtol began the consulting business after nearly a decade in general practice in Dimmitt, Texas.
It was in Dimmitt that he realized a different approach to cattle production called for a different approach to animal health. One of the first “bad wrecks” he saw in cattle health was near the first attempt to feed tens of thousands of animals in a confined system – reducing death loss became a very apparent priority.
“I knew at that time I was going to have to get more involved with the total program – not just the individual animal – and really come up with some ideas,” Bechtol said. “All of a sudden, I became a feedlot consultant rather than just an individual animal treater.”
But his influence didn’t stop with the animal.
Bechtol was well known for his human customer service, too, and a knack for connecting with feedlot employees to help them help the animals under their care.
“He’d spend a lot of time working in the feedlot itself, very hands-on, working with the cattle health personnel, helping them identify health problems and medication,” Pollreisz said. “Dr. Bechtol is very innovative and service-oriented in his approach to his feedlot customers.”
As he spent more time in the budding feedlot business, it became clear that more research, data and assistance would be needed to allow the industry to continue to grow in a healthy manner. Bechtol found a solution to that, too.
His “Cattle Accounting System” was one of the original record keeping systems for animal health in the early ’70s.
“With that, we could become more precise in what we were trying to do, what our goals were, and also evaluate our processing and treatment programs and come up with better answers in the feedlot,” Bechtol said. “So we progressed from being an individual animal treater to a person that had computerized records and was setting up goals.”