Cows get checkups, too
Just like parents are the primary caretakers of their children, farmers are the primary caretakers of their cattle. They feed and care for them daily and are the first ones to notice when something is wrong. And, just like with your kids, sometimes there is a simple solution that doesn’t require medical attention, but sometimes a doctor – or veterinarian – needs to get involved.
If you’re a parent, you’re familiar with visits to the doctor’s office for routine checkups. On the farm, veterinarians like me check on cattle routinely, too. This looks different at various stages of life:
- For cows (the moms), checkups include a yearly pregnancy examination, vaccination and deworming.
- For calves, a checkup usually happens around the time of weaning and includes vaccinations, deworming and sometimes castration or dehorning.
- For other animals, checkups happen when they arrive at a new farm or pen and include vaccinations and antibiotics, if necessary.
Besides performing these routine tasks, veterinarians observe the herd for problems and talk with the farmer about any reoccurring problems with their herd. Veterinarians check on housing, welfare and environmental concerns with each trip to the farm.
When sickness strikes
Parents probably reach for common medicines for a fever or a scraped knee. Similarly, farmers work with their veterinarian so they know how to treat common or simple problems themselves.
Just like parents take their kids to the pediatrician when something unusual is happening (like an earache or a stomach bug), farmers ask their veterinarians to come examine their animal(s) when they are really sick.
Upon examination, it is a veterinarian’s job to decide whether or not the animal will require an antibiotic. Just like your doctor sends you home with a prescription and instructions, veterinarians can prescribe medication and instruct the farmer on how and when to administer it. They also educate on the withdrawal period that comes with each antibiotic. This ensures antibiotic residue never makes it into our food supply.
At the end of the day, farmers know their cattle and how to care for them best. Their experience and intuition make them very good at what they do (just like all of the great parents out there).