Vet Shortage in Rural Areas
If you are the proud owner of any number of animals, then you know that knowing a good veterinarian is invaluable. At Cross Creek Cattle Company, we know several. Luckily, we do not have to use them often. Our cattle and horses are healthy. Occasionally we will have a minor medical emergency usually concerning a horse that can usually be handled with just a phone call. We follow the vet’s instructions and everything is alright.
In the January issue of “Texas Co-op Power”, the lead article is “Emergency Call: Texas Grappling with Critical Shortages of Rural Veterinarians” by Wes Ferguson and Camille Wheeler. In the article they interview three rural vets from across Texas.
The amount of debt that graduating veterinarians accumulate to just get their degree is crippling. It can amount to more than $100,000.00. Therefore, most newly graduated veterinarians are looking for work in urban areas where the pay is typically higher.
Rural vets will work on a wide variety of animals where most urban vets work with small domesticated animals. As our population has shifted to be more urban, our veterinarians are making the same shift. The problem is that large areas in South Texas, West Texas, and the Panhandle ranchers find themselves without a veterinarian.
In our area, we have several large animal veterinarians. We have not experienced the shortage for ourselves. But will this trend continue? Will veterinarians continue leaving the rural areas?
Just like you cannot practice medicine without a license, you cannot practice veterinary medicine either. However, there are procedures you can learn to do without having to involve a vet. Schools teach and will certify you to palpate cattle. You can learn to vaccinate and worm your own cattle. You can learn to dehorn and castrate without a vet.
Texas A&M University hosts an annual Beef Cattle Short Course in August. During the three day event, the provide classes to learn most of the skills mentioned above. Our ranch manager always goes to learn something new each year. It is a great course for any cattle rancher.
As more veterinarians move to the cities, the ones that remain in the rural areas are apt to find themselves swamped and over-worked. Learn how to perform these procedures and free the veterinarians to do true medical work. Let them see to the emergencies.