NCAT Livestock Specialist
Published April 2015
Sheep and goat producers frequently comment that it is difficult to find a veterinarian who is willing and able to help with health care for their animals. Producers also remark that profits are slim and paying for a veterinarian is just too expensive. It is true that many health-care tasks can and should be done by the producer. However, veterinarians have specialized knowledge and are trained to investigate, diagnose, and treat illness. Also, many medications are not legal to use UNLESS you have a valid relationship with a veterinarian (see box below). A veterinarian can teach producers how to perform health-care procedures properly. And a veterinarian who will listen and is willing to learn and study further will soon develop strong competency with small ruminants and can actually save you money and help you provide better care for your animals.
Finding a veterinarian who will support you as a herd-health partner will pay dividends. Paying attention to these points will benefit you, your veterinarian, and your livestock.
Photo: Grace Rathert
Instructions from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to veterinarians (addressed as "you"):
The AMDUCA provisions of the FD&C Act allow extra-label drug use only on the lawful order of a licensed veterinarian in the context of a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship. A valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship has three parts:
Such a relationship can exist only when you have recently seen the animal and are personally acquainted with its care. This means you have recently examined the animal, have made "medically appropriate and timely visits" to where the animal is kept (usually the case for food-producing animals), or done both.
Working effectively with your veterinarian will benefit your business in the long run. Consulting with a veterinarian to set up a good preventive-care program is cost-effective.
Goat Medicine. 1994. By Mary C. Smith and David M. Sherman. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a Wolters Kluwer Company, Baltimore,
This book is very technical, but it includes a chapter on herd health management and preventive medicine. This is an authoritative and very helpful book for veterinarians. 620 p.
Sheep and Goat Medicine. 2002. Edited by D. G. Pugh. W.B. Saunders Company, an Imprint of Elsevier Science, Pennsylvania, PA.
This book is designed to provide a text on sheep and goat medicine, nutrition, surgery, and reproduction in an easily usable form; language is more accessible, and there are lots of helpful charts, tables, illustrations, and photos. It includes chapters on handling and examination of sheep and goats, feeding and nutrition (with practical examples), and flock health. 468 p.
Raising Goats for Milk and Meat, Revised Edition, 2008. By Rosalee Sinn and Paul Rudenberg. Heifer International, Little Rock, AR.
Primarily written for trainers working with groups of farmers, especially in developing countries, this book is useful for individual producers as well. Chapter 8, Health Care for Your Goats, is highly useful, practical, and readable. There is a table listing health problems, common causes and characteristics, other signs, prevention, and treatment. 218 p.
Goat Health Handbook. 1983. By Thomas R. Thedford, DVM. Winrock International, Morrilton, AR
Subtitled "A Field Guide for Producers with Limited Veterinary Services," this book and a companion title for sheep will be highly useful in teaching producers how to observe and examine their animals and notice relevant aspects of behavior and physical state. Both diagnostic guides and more-detailed disease descriptions are provided, including symptoms, information about disease cause and transmission, prevention and treatment, and human health concerns. Find used copies online. 122 p.
This work was supported by the USDA, NIFA Organic Research and Education Initiative (Project No. 2010-51300-21641).
Tips for: Working with a Veterinarian
By Linda Coffey, NCAT Livestock Specialist
Published April 2015 ©NCAT
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This page was last updated on: June 22, 2016