“The role of the veterinarian is changing quite a bit and has changed quite a bit. We’re being asked to be involved in more aspects of production,” says Travis Hill, DVM, a veterinarian with Feedlot Health Management Services (FHMS), LLC. “At FHMS we look for more opportunities to be involved in client operations. We advise clients on everything from animal health to nutrition to procurement optimization.”

Consider the certification course in beef management offered through GPVEC.

“We offer eight sessions in production management,” Dr. Griffin explains. “We don’t talk about disease at all. We talk about epidemiology, production finance, and those kinds of things. We talk about production management and the interaction of all of these things.”

Dr. Furman is certified in beef cow management through this course. He explains, “It’s for veterinarians who want to sit down with ranch managers to talk about genetic selection, the breeding program, forage management and the big decisions that have great economic importance to the ranch.”

Rather than an evolving veterinary role, Dr. Furman believes focusing on management has more to do with the choices a veterinary practice makes about how to best serve its clients’ needs.

“The fire engine practice is more along the lines of, ‘We have a C-section to do there, a bloat to take care over here,’ where they spend so much time putting fires out that they don’t have time to look at the big picture with clients,” Dr. Furman says. “Our practice is a hybrid. We help clients make decisions to help them become more profitable. But, when the need arises we can go help them with the C-section.”

That approach also fits how the business of veterinary care has changed over time.

“Traditionally, veterinarians made their money selling product and giving their education away," Dr. Furman says. “Now, producers buy products through a variety of channels and I think vets are more aware of the value of the education they can share.”

“We still palpate cows for pregnancy, and maybe we go out for a few dystocias or to semen check bulls,” Dr. Griffin says. “But, today the veterinarian is more involved in genetic selection, pelvic measuring, those kinds of things that help prevent the need for calving assistance to start with. More time is spent looking at records, preparing heifers for entering the herd.”