In a veterinary practice, it’s sometimes easy to place focus on the large procedures and services. No doubt, they play a critical role in a practice’s bottom line. But what about the smaller ticket items? How do they add up for you and your clients? And what money are you leaving on the table?

L.D. Barker, DVM, Professional Animal Health Center, Newcastle, OK, says promoting lower cost services, such as artificial insemination and pregnancy checks, can bring additional revenue to a practice and ultimately bring greater returns for clients.

Dr. Barker’s practice, consisting of himself and sons Mark and Matt, focuses on large scale purebred and commercial cow-calf operators, stockers and bucking bull producers.

“We often work with excellent purebred breeders who stay on top of the genetic end of the cattle industry,” he says. “They often use progressive and cutting edge technologies and better performing individuals. We have treated purebred bulls which go on to win large national shows, and bucking bulls that have been recognized by the Professional Bull Riders (PBR).”

In addition, Dr. Barker develops all natural protocols to enhance the health and longevity of his clients’ herds. He works with producers and other veterinarians to determine the exact antigens needed to combat specific pathogens unique to an operation and builds a complete program around those needs.

“This provides ongoing, broader protection and builds a healthier animal with less of a need for antibiotics,” Dr. Barker says.

Regardless of a client’s knowledge and experience, Dr. Barker says, opportunities often arise for education and selling of services. This practice, he says, can draw more revenue for the business, as well as bringing clients to a higher level of herd health, customer satisfaction and revenue.

Making the Pitch

Dr. Barker says many of his progressive clients already are aware of the technologies and advanced services available, and often, they request them.

“We’ve developed the skills necessary to meet the needs of our producers,” he says. “We are about to fertility check nearly 1,000 bulls for upcoming sales. Our clients want to offer fertile bulls, and we like to help them meet their needs.”

One service Dr. Barker has honed is vaccination protocols.

“We introduce or tell our clients about services we offer and let them make the final decision,” he says. “We have discovered pathogens for which there are no existing antigens. We identify those pathogens and then develop autogenous vaccines to meet those needs. It has given us a chance to draw in new clients, and has led to even more satisfied exisiting clients.”

Often, Dr. Barker says, they can prove in 45 days that the cost per pound to an operation can be reduced by 10 cents or more with the proper protocol to maximize production and minimize death loss. And when that can be proven, he says, the investment can be easier to make.

“We still have several stocker clients who only want to invest $50 per head, just as they did 20 years ago,” he says. “But when we can create a total protocol considering pathogens, nutrition and antibiotics, we can increase the health of high risk calves and build immunity. This leads to lower drug costs in treating sick cattle and less death loss, which is a total loss.”


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Dr. Barker says every visit to a client is an opportunity to educate them on the services available and the successes that have resulted.

“As we’re treating a stocker operation, they may tell us they are losing 10-15 percent,” he says. “When they’re talking with neighbors, they may learn that their neighbors are having the same trouble and accept the fact that ‘it’s just the way things are.’ It can be tough to get them to make an investment, but sometimes with education, they will make an investment on the front end that will lead to greater returns on the back end.”

Another small service often overlooked is the pregnancy check, which can lead to great returns for clients and the practice.