Dr. Dee Whittier, a veterinarian at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, has suggested developing a prepaid veterinary business for the right clients.
This could put you in the role of a consultant and not just an emergency service provider, he says.
The college started an arrangement whereby clients in their clinic practice can pay a set fee per cow per year. Whittier said that in return, clients get routine veterinary services such as Bang’s-vaccinating heifers, pregnancy-checking cows and routine vaccinations for the herd. It also includes two emergency calls per 100 cows per year.
“The program centers around four events during the year, each associated with a veterinary visit or visits to the farm — such as breeding, preg-checking, calving and winter feeding,” he says. “Also included are one or two educational meetings that are just for clients on the program. At these meetings they work in small groups on any issues and problems.
“The idea behind this type of program is first to improve the welfare of the animals, and second to improve profitability of the rancher. Third, the goal is to create some sort of stability for the clinician,” Whittier says.
The rancher then knows what his or her cost per cow will be for yearly veterinary services, since most ranches would only have an occasional situation in which a veterinarian would have to come out beyond the scope of the prepaid package. This is helpful for the client when trying to prepare a budget or work with a banker.
Perhaps best of all, it puts the stockman and veterinarian working in a consulting, preventive mode, rather than waiting for an emergency.