This Week’s Headlines
Delmarva Farmer Columnists
The veterinary client-patient relationship (Dec. 6, 2016)
By Susan Schoenian, Sheep and Goat Specialist, University of Maryland Extension
At the core of the new Veterinary Feed Directive is the veterinarian-client-patient relationship.
Using extra-label drugs is also lawful, only in the context of a VCPR.
Just because you can buy LA-200 in the feed store and administer it to your sheep or goats, doesn’t mean you are doing so legally.
The VPCR has been defined by the American Veterinary Medical Association, state veterinary medical boards, as well as the Food & Drug Administration.
While it has several provisions, a VCPR primarily means you are working with your veterinarian so that he/she has first-hand knowledge of your farm and can prescribe appropriate treatment(s) for your animals. This requires “timely” visits to your farm.
Producers frequently comment that it is hard to find a veterinarian who is willing to work with sheep or goats and/or has specific knowledge pertaining to them.
Another common complaint is that the cost of veterinary services often exceeds the value of the animal(s).
While there can be truth to these statements, it doesn’t preclude the need for producers to find and work with veterinarians.
While many health-care practices can and should be performed by producers, a veterinarian can be a valuable partner in flock/herd health management.
A tip sheet by NCAT-ATTRA (attra.ncat.org) offers three suggestions for finding a small ruminant veterinarian:
• Ask other livestock producers in your area for recommendations;
• Visit large animal clinics near you, meet the veterinarians, and ask if they have experience and/or are interested in working with sheep and goats. Experience is great, but interest is more important; and
• Search the web site of the American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners (www.AASRP.org) for members in your area.
Once you identify a veterinarian, set up an initial farm visit.
Your new vet needs to see your operation before problems arise.
Be sure to communicate details of your vaccination, parasite control, and nutritional programs.
Be willing to share information if your veterinarian does not have a lot of small ruminant experience.
There are many good sources of information (both print and electronic).
For example, the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control (wormx.info) is the go-to place for information on gastro-intestinal parasite control.
To ensure a successful VCPR, it is important to follow your veterinarian’s treatment recommendations and to let him/her know the results of treatment.
When you have an animal health “crisis” it is important not to wait until the animals are too ill to be helped.
If you don’t know why an animal died, be sure to involve your veterinarian. He/she can help you identify reasons for animal death and/or patterns of death or illness.
Small ruminant producers who do not currently have a veterinarian need to find one and establish a valid VCPR.
Remember, the use of feed-grade or water soluble antibiotics will require it beginning Jan. 1.
The use of extra-label drugs has always required it, and some over-the-counter drugs may eventually be available only via veterinary prescription, via a VCPR.
Read the full ATTRA-NCAT tip sheet, “Working with a veterinarian” by visiting http://www.wormx.info/workwithvet.
CRP grasslands and you (Dec. 6, 2016)