As a food animal practitioner in Lancaster County, my days begin early as I stock my mobile truck with the medications and supplies that I might need as I travel to my farm calls that day. I begin by answering the telephone, starting at 7:00am, when my clients call in to schedule an appointment for me to see a sick cow, do pregnancy checks on heifers, consult with me about a mastitis problem or nutritional issue, or any other problem the herd is experiencing. Almost two-thirds of my daily work is pre-scheduled, the rest are calls that come in during the day for animals who need to be seen.
In between phone calls, I catch up on my paperwork from the day before and work on any milk culturing that is in the office lab which needs completed. My associates arrive around 7:30am to stock their trucks and complete their bills from the previous day, and we discuss the cases that we saw the day before. When the majority of the calls are in that morning, I line the day up for the three of us, and we hop in our vehicles and head out to the farms that are on our list for that day.
The work that we do every day is varied but is generally based around routine herd health checks. This can be described as preventative “well-being” check-ups for the dairy. It often includes pregnancy checking, reviewing DHIA records to assess the udder health of the herd, monitoring the growth of the young stock on the farm, and analyzing production parameters to make sure the nutrition of the herd is on track. Sick cow work, surgeries, and the occasional emergency that come in that day are added to the list. Most emergencies are either calvings, milk fevers or emergency abdominal surgery.
Driving from farm to farm, I get to enjoy the beautiful Lancaster County countryside almost every hour as I drive to the next farm call. I feel great satisfaction when I can help my clients maintain a healthy herd of cows that maximizes their performance. I get to be outside, be active, and still be “at work!” It is a bonus that I get to work with some of the most generous, hardworking and thoughtful people I know, and getting to know their families along the way is an added joy. I have been in this business long enough to have seen some of the children that greeted me at my truck later own farms of their own!
My road work is usually done by late afternoon, and I head home to get dinner ready for my family. Some evenings, I research some of the herd problems I have seen that day, whether it is an abortion outbreak, a herd that is experiencing too many twisted stomachs, or a mastitis/milk quality issue. Then, I relax with my family, head to bed, and get ready for a new day!