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Knowing When to Call a Livestock Vet in an Emergency

Updated: Feb 18, 2020

Dramatic emergencies certainly make for the best veterinary tales — it seems to be the only thing Dr. Pol ever does — yet chasing emergencies is not what fills most of my days as a livestock veterinarian. While being available to clients in times of crisis is certainly an important part of my practice, my job is truly about helping farmers manage their herds to maximize health and minimize emergencies.

Whether I am with a new farmer or one that I work with on a weekly basis, my goal is to evaluate housing, nutrition and other aspects of general husbandry to ensure the animals are healthy and comfortable. We work on vaccination protocols to minimize the risk of disease. Reproductive health and planning can maximize the health of dam and offspring while minimizing the risk of problems pre- and post-partum. Veterinary needs will vary depending on the nature of the farming operation. However, investing some time in a veterinary relationship has a solid return in the form of healthy and productive animals.

My goal is to educate clients to properly manage their herds so that emergencies are rare. I teach client how to handle minor emergencies independently, but also how to recognize when a call for help is necessary. Here are some tips on deciding on when to call. They are a list I give clients for dealing with animals in labor, but truly apply to any type of emergency.

1) If you examine the animal and you have no idea what is going on, call for help.

2) If you know what is going on, but have no idea how to fix it, call for help.

3) If you think you know how to fix it, but are not making progress, call for help.

Vaccination and treatment protocols, reproductive exams and general education are just a few ways that a veterinarian can help keep your herd healthy and avoid those made-for-tv miserable emergencies. And that means happier animals, a happier farmer and a happier veterinarian.

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