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It's the Pitts: Dying from complications

Contributed by Lee PItts Published on 24 February 2017

I’m sure you’ve read about the VFD. It’s kind of like BVD, bovine viral diarrhea, only VFD is a disease of the bureaucracy. In my opinion, it’s just another in a long line of regulations to fix something that wasn’t broke.

VFD stands for Veterinary Feed Directive, and it’s an attempt to turn your vet into a paper-pushing pharmacist. To learn about VFD, you’ve been urged to develop a closer relationship with your vet. Hah!

Every large-animal vet I know is so busy meeting himself coming and going that he or she doesn’t have time for writing prescriptions or for strengthening personal relationships. Most large-animal vets I know aren’t what you’d call “touchy-feely” kind of people anyway.

Some are downright grouchy, probably because they’re already 45 minutes late for their next appointment. But ranchers and their animals should be extremely grateful for our vets, and some day we’re going to look back and realize that ranchers and their stock never had it so good as right now. You call them up with a problem, and they come out to your place and fix it. Or not.

There’s already a large-animal veterinarian shortage, and it’s only going to get worse because 80 percent of students in American vet schools are female, and most of them want to be equine or small-animal vets. So overburdened cow docs are now going to be even more overworked writing prescriptions, pushing pills and giving consults.

We’re gonna miss the days when your vet came out to the ranch for a difficult calving cow, and even though he may have just held the calf in a little longer to make you think you were getting your money’s worth, at least you did everything you could and felt good about it.

Even if all the vet did was give a sick cow a vitamin shot to make you think he was doing something, at least you felt better. Even though the cow may not have.

This is just the first of many regulations the government will use to turn your vet into a pill pusher and your sick cows into DOAs. They’ll die from complications. It may come as a big shock to younger people reading this column to learn that medical doctors used to come to your house when you were sick to fix what was wrong. Or not.

The day is not too far off when vets will no longer make ranch calls. To treat a sick cow, you’ll have to haul it into town, where you’ll sit in a waiting room reading 3-year-old cow magazines for 45 minutes. You’ll have to pay first and be asked to fill out a four-page questionnaire every time you come in that asks you all sorts of embarrassing questions.

If it’s a sick cow, you’ll be asked when it was born and if its father ever had a lump or a venereal disease. You are given this questionnaire to give you something to do while you’re waiting. (No one actually ever refers to these pieces of paper; they are just stored away in bankers’ boxes somewhere.)

You may note that you’re the only one in the waiting room and, while you can’t get in to see the vet, a parade of drug salesmen are getting to see the doc to give him free pens and pads of paper with the name of a new drug on them.

After the requisite length of waiting, you’ll be taken into a stark room, where you’ll wait another 30 minutes until a nurse comes and takes your temperature and blood pressure, even though it’s your animal that’s sick, not you. Then you’ll wait another 30 minutes until your vet finally enters. He’ll then tell you that your blood pressure is high – no doubt because you’ve just wasted two hours.

Your vet may, or may not, go see the sick animal in your trailer. Then he’ll look in his cupboard for some old free samples of a drug that’s about to expire, and you’ll be told to come back in two weeks. After that time, if your cow is still alive, your vet will then refer you to a specialist. Probably his brother-in-law.

At this point, you’ll give up and illegally buy some black market antibiotics off the internet from Canada.  end mark