Why You Want to Build a Relationship With a Veterinarian

All show pig producers should have a established a vet client relationship with their veterinarian. No matter how long you have been raising pigs or how many sows that you have farrows at some point you are going to need the expertise of a veterinarian.  Building a relationship with a veterinarian is one of the most important things that you can do!  Not only will they be able to help you through difficult situations such as farrowing problems, but they will also be able to help you develop a program to help you have a successful experience. 

Over the years we have worked closely with several vets to help us create a vaccination program for our sows, boars and little pigs. Our vet has guided us through both routine and bigger problems through the years.  A few of the things that a vet can help you achieve are…

1. Vaccination programs developed for your show pigs

Every farms has a different situation when it comes to vaccination programs.  We all have different “Bugs” and need to specifically treat for them.  One farm may experience problems with joints while another may experience respiratory problems.   Developing a vet client relationship with a veterinarian who can help you develop a good vaccination program for your sows and little pigs will allow you to produce a healthier animal for buyers.  It can also save you money in the long run by reducing the number of shots that you would have to give to sick animals. Our guide  Vaccinating Baby Pigs can provide you will general knowledge that you can discuss with your veterinarian.

2. Prebreeding vaccination program for sows and gilts

Many problems seen during breeding and farrowing season can be drastically reduced with a good vaccination program.  Discussing problems such as difficulties getting sows bred, aborted litters and mummies with your veterinarian can lead to the development of a good vaccination protocol for breeding stock which can significantly reduce these problems.

Pharmaceuticals that may require a vet client relationship

3. Difficult deliveries

Difficult deliveries are very common when raising show pigs.  Problems often stem from the type of pigs that we are trying to farrow.  The modern show gilt bears little resemblance to gilts in the commercial industry who are bred with maternal characteristics in mind.  Sows in most show pig herds today are small framed, level hipped, heavy muscled, wide bodied and big centered.  These characteristics normally spell trouble during delivery.  The time to find a vet is NOT when you sow is experiencing farrowing problems.  You will want to have a relationship with a vet prior to farrowing and be able to call them as soon as you know there is a problem so they can help pull pigs or perform a C section.  The faster you get help the higher the chance of saving the sow and or litter.  Sometimes you may want or need to induce labor in sows.   Your veterinarian will be able to provide recommendations and have the necessary drugs on hand to help you induce labor.

4. Health certificates for pig sales and shows

Certain pig sales (especially those out of state) and shows will require a health certificate issued by your veterinarian.  Establishing a good relationship with a vet will assure that you get the necessary paperwork performed and speed up the required process needed for a health certificate. 

5. VFD's (Veterinary Feed Directive)

As of January 1, 2017 the use of medically important antibiotics in feed and water for livestock falls under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.  In order for you to purchase baby pig feed containing these antibiotics you must have a working relationship with a veterinarian so that they will write a VFD for you to purchase feed with antibiotics. We discuss the Vet Client Relationship and VFD program below in more detail.

6. Pharmaceuticals that require a prescription

Many of the antibiotics that you will need to treat sick animals will require a prescription from a veterinarian.  Giving the right drugs to treat an infection will not only save the animal but will save you money and labor by giving fewer shots. When you establish a vet client relationship with a veterinarian, they will have knowledge of your operation and should be able to diagnose the sick animal and prescribe the best treatment.

Vet client relationships help create healthy pigs like these cross babies nursing on their mom
Vet client relationships are required for pharmaceuticals and antibiotics like these pictured on these refrigerator shelves

The Vet Client Relationship

The Veterinary Feed Directory (VFD) program was implemented on January 1, 2017.  The purpose of the program is to reduce antibiotic resistance associated with daily usage of certain antibiotics in the production of livestock.  These antibiotics are also used in the human sector and are no longer available over the counter to producers as they were in the past. Today producers must obtain a VFD from their vet in order to use these antibiotics.

What do you need to get a VFD from your veterinarian? The first thing will be to establish a Vet Client Patient Relationship (VCPR) with you vet. This means that the veterinarian must have knowledge of your operation.  All of the following are required for a veterinarian to issue a VCPR.

1.     The veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making clinical judgments regarding the health of the patient and the client has agreed to follow the veterinarians’ instructions.

2.     The veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the patient to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the patient.  This means that the veterinarian is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of  the patient by virtue of a timely examination of the patient by the veterinarian, or medically appropriate and timely visits by the veterinarian to the operation where the patient is managed.

3.     The veterinarian is readily available for follow-up evaluation or has arranged for the following: veterinary emergency coverage, and continuing care and treatment.

4.     The veterinarian provides oversight of treatment, compliance, and outcome.

5.     Patient records are maintained.

How to get started forming a vet client relationship

Find a veterinarian in your area with some knowledge of pigs.  If you don’t know where to start ask other breeders in your area who they recommend or contact your county agent of local Ag Teacher to see who they recommend.  The time that you spend building a relationship with your vet now will make your life much easier in the future and ensure that you sell a healthier animal to your clients which in turn should grow and perform better.