May 08, 2017

Dr. Dan Thomson: Hey folks welcome to the DocTalk. Today we’re going to have a great show. We have Dr. Mark Hilton here from Elanco Animal Health. We’re going to talk about how you can utilize your veterinarian on your farm and ranch to do things for the health performance, genetics, nutrition and records. Stay tuned.

Closed Captioning brought to you by AgriLabs, the Perfect Pairing of Performance and Value.

Dr. Dan: Hey folks welcome to DocTalk. We have Dr. Mark Hilton with us. Thanks for doing this doctor. Dr. Mark Hilton: You bet. Glad to be here. Dr. Dan: Folks we’re going to talk today with Dr. Hilton who has a wealth of knowledge about veterinary practice, beef production. He’s been both or are both. He’s a veterinarian and a beef producer. Working with Elanco Animal Health he’s been a practitioner, in eastern Iowa, Dewitt, Iowa, for any of you that are in eastern Iowa watching the show. Also been on faculty at Purdue University over 18 years. Today we’re going to talk about something that we both have passion about and that’s cows and veterinarians and how do producers adequately use the veterinarian. Dr. Mark: It goes back to when I was a kid at home and we were pig farmers. We bought a different farm and had some rough ground. My dad said, “We need cows.” We really didn’t know much about them and when our veterinarian would come out he would quiz my dad and me too as a kid. He would ask questions about the herd and we could tell he wanted us to do a better job, and we wanted to do a good job but we just didn’t have some of the knowledge. He became an asset to our program. And as I got high school age thinking I wanted to go to veterinary school that’d be my top choice. I thought, “I want to be on the asset side of the ledger for the producer.” Delivering a live calf is fun. Treating a sick calf and making it well is fun. But if we cannot have either of those happening in the first place, that’s the best for the producer. That’s the way I always thought. I always thought how would my folks like this to run the best? How do they best utilize the veterinarian? That’s what I kind of modeled it around. Dr. Dan: I think there are a lot of times that the producer wants the veterinarian on the asset side as well. When we get in the some of the kind of tailspins of some of these practices or practitioners when we’re just utilizing them for that fire engine medicine. It’s kind of hard to get exactly, really fired up to just be needed when somebody can’t do something. Dr. Mark: I think they’ve done research Dan and they found out that the world’s worst marketers are food animal veterinarians. We’re terrible. We’re so worried about bragging or, as farm kids that’s just not the thing. You don’t brag. Sometimes we’re so understated we really don’t serve our clients well by telling them or talking to them about things that we do know something about where we could help them. Every client thinks we need to help them on health and I agree. We need to make a vaccination calendar and as we talked about in another session, sit down with the veterinarian, find out what do we need to do. What’s important here on the health side? Get that thing solved. If they have any disease get that solved. We shouldn’t. A well-managed beef herd should not have disease. 100% healthy calves is absolutely an attainable goal. You and I have both had clients that have had it year after year after year. We had pink eye four years ago or something, or a cow had foot rot but for the most part a healthy herd is really where we start. Dr. Dan: You bet. Folks we kind of set the table here for you if you can’t see it. We’re going to talk about things that you can do and utilize your veterinarian to make your herd healthier and more profitable. Thanks for tuning into DocTalk, we have Dr. Mark Hilton here. We’re going to take a break and we’ll come back after these messages.

Dr. Dan: Folks welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with my friend and colleague Dr. Mark Hilton. We’re discussing how you can utilize veterinarians on your farm. Health programs are obvious and that’s kind of the one that gets into that preventative medicine calendar, the vaccinations, things of that nature. What do we have next? Dr. Mark: Health gets us in the door but a lot of times there’s a lot more important things. When I was a professor at Purdue I told all the students, “Ask the client what their goals are, find out what’s important to them because we don’t know. If we assume we’re probably going to be wrong a lot of times. So I’ll ask a question, “I noticed you’re full-feeding your cows hay, it seems like they waste quite a bit. Would that be an area that you’d like to talk about?” “Yes, I’d love to talk about that,” so that opens the door for me to talk about nutrition. I have a fairly good knowledge, background in animal science for nutrition. I had a great education, and so I can do some of that, but I’m not a PhD nutritionist. If I have really tough questions, I call somebody like you, or somebody else that’s got a PhD in Nutrition, or a company nutritionist. “Hey, how can you help this producer?” but for a lot of them, the veterinarian can get them – if that producer, on a baseball analogy, is somewhere between just hitting the ball, and they’ve just left home plate and they’re trying to get back round to home. They may only be 10 feet toward first base. Well, I can get them to second probably, with my knowledge. I can’t get them home, that’s where I can call somebody. But if they’re not even at first yet, I can get them there and talk about, well, lets time-feed these cows. What about feeding some byproduct feed? Something like that. I know you guys here at Kansas State had a nutrition seminar for veterinarians last fall. I think you’re going to do it again. Dr. Dan: Yes, we’ll do it this fall. Dr. Mark: Excellent for veterinarians to learn from the guys at Iowa State that developed the BRaNDS program, that’s the program I use, and just super. But I think nutrition needs to be something the veterinarian is at least involved in; help them out. Maybe they’re using some very expensive product that really doesn’t have any research to it; that’s money draining out of their pocket. We want to help them on things like that. Dr. Dan: I think that looking at research and if you’ll call your veterinarian and say, “Hey, I’ve got a question about this,” they either get with the feed company, they get with the Extension agent, technical consultant, different things like that to get to the right answer. A lot of times veterinarians, if they’re just to be part of the team, it makes things so much more exciting. Not only for the producer and getting things done, but for the veterinarian to hey, to be engaged on a day-to-day basis in your herd. Dr. Mark: Yes. Being a veterinarian, you know a lot of those people; so can help direct the client to get the right people on the team. I always told my clients, “I don’t have all the answers.” In fact, “I don’t know” is something that I say on a routine basis. But I follow that with, “We’ll find out. We’ll find the people, we’ll find the information which you need.” Dr. Dan: We know the people around there. Dr. Mark: Yes, exactly. Another area is marketing. I know a veterinarian here in Kansas that with all of his clients that precondition their calves, get tags from him that have his website on the front of the tag and his cellphone number on the back of the tags. He is telling that person that’s buying those calves, “We’re proud of these calves. Here is some faith that you should have in these cattle. These cattle are important to us. We want them to go out to the next place and do a great job in the feedlot, and make money for that feedlot owner, be healthy.” I thought, “What a great way to help your clients market.” He gets all of his clients together and they market the calves at a similar time of the year. He said it’s been super successful for him. Dr. Dan: That’s awesome. Let’s take a break. Folks, when we come back, we’re going to talk more about how you can utilize a veterinarian on your cowherd with Dr. Mark Hilton. Thanks for watching DocTalk; we’ll come back after we take a break.

Dr. Dan: This is good stuff. Hey, folks, welcome back to DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Mark Hilton. Dr. Hilton is a veterinarian; he is a bovine veterinarian. He has 33 years in veterinarian practice and still cooking. When we’re talking about doing some things, here are the things that you did for your clients, or with your clients, and how producers that are out there can better utilize their veterinarians. Dr. Mark: My favorite area to talk about is records. I love numbers. Once we get numbers on a herd, now we’re not guessing at things. We actually know what’s going on, looking at calving intervals, if we’re having repro problems, where is it occurring. Numbers don’t lie. Ranking cows from top to bottom in a herd and having the ones that are at the bottom, they may be asking to leave the herd. Some of them need to do that. Dr. Dan: We’ve had some students that way. Dr. Mark: Yes, well – when I was in veterinary practice, I did that. We had 30 herds on a production medicine program at Purdue when I was there on records. Once those producers get on that system, they tell you, “I don’t know how I did this, how I raised cattle without those records. This is so vital to me.” The first 10 herds that I had on my production medicine program in Iowa after they’d been on it for a year, we had seven areas to our production medicine program and records as one of those, and I said to him, “Of the seven areas, which one has been the most valuable for you?” Nine out of the ten people said records. So, it’s really important because they had some things wrong in their mind, and the numbers, they don’t lie on that. Dr. Dan: Well, it comes back to someone that’s managing your personal bank account, or whatever. What you think it is, and what it actually is, sometimes they’re not the same. And if you have it there in black and white, we can make change if we measure. Dr. Mark: We’ll look at the feedlot industry. Its just records have dramatically changed the things. Another area that we get involved in a lot is handling facilities. So I’m the veterinarian that’s out doing the preg checks of cows, semen checking bulls, processing calves, whatever, and so I get to see a lot of those and then I learn from people like Clint Locatelli and Tom Noffsinger, and go to their seminars, and learn those things. And then we can take that to the producer, and it is absolutely rewarding to have that producer, once we go out there after we’ve retrofitted what they’ve got, and at the end of the time say, “Oh my gosh, that took an hour and a half less than it usually does. Nobody’s stressed out, the cows are better.” And you know it’s a great feeling to know that you’ve helped them put a system together that was really economical, a lot less money than they thought. You know, a Bud Box isn’t very expensive; and just that system that I’ve been taught from all those other folks, because that’s what those veterinarians want to do. They want to teach us, and then we take it out and then teach even more people. So we do a lot on handling facilities. Dr. Dan: Well, depending on how your veterinarian’s charging, it could actually decrease the veterinary cost to work with him on the facility and Uncle Joe doesn’t get thrown over the top of the crowd. Dr. Mark: Yes, it’s a win-win, having the right facilities. Dr. Dan: A lot of stuff. Well folks, this is a good time for a break. And when you start thinking about the ground that we’ve covered with nutrition, health, marketing cattle – Dr. Mark: – records. Dr. Dan: Records, records, more records, and then facility, there’s still some more to come. Stay tuned.

Dr. Dan: Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson, Dr. Mark Hilton. We’re talking about how you can utilize your veterinarian. Dr. Hilton has done a lot of incredible work, and really was one of the founders. My dad started doing some production medicine. You have really been leaders, especially on the cow/calf side. And I have a lot of admiration for everything that you’ve done for a lot of us. And we got to get more involved. We got to get more of it done and keep amplifying the message, because it’s good for the entire beef industry and very good for the veterinary profession. Dr. Mark: Yes, it’s just fun for me to go to that client that’s got a bunch of questions. And when I can see they want to do better, I’m just all over that because that’s my favorite client that I really want to help them do a better job. One of the other areas, and when we have students come, and when I did the advanced beef production medicine block, the students were amazed how much time we talked about forage and grasses. And we would have the forage specialist from Purdue, Keith Johnson, come out on two of the herd visits with us to really give them a bit of an education about those things, because really, we don’t teach them much about that in vet school. And I sure don’t think veterinarians should be pasture management experts, but you need to know something about it. But I tell all the vet students, when you get out of vet school and you’re going to work with grazing animals, the first week that you’re on the job, find out who the grazing specialist is in your area. Dr. Dan: Absolutely. Dr. Mark: Call that person up, say, “I’m going to buy you lunch, and I want to talk to you because I want to get you on my team.” So again, as the veterinarian, if I go to a farm and he starts having pretty high level of questions for me about management intensive grazing, what species of grass, I’m like, “Hey, you’re over my head.” But if I can bring somebody in, and the two of us can go to that farm together, what a value we’ve brought to that farm. And again, then maybe I’m going to learn something and go to the next farm and learn even more. But beef farmers are grass farmers first. If we don’t have grass, we don’t have beef. And taking care of the soil, taking care of the health of the soil and the pasture is super important. And I think a veterinarian needs to be at least able to answer some questions there and then direct them to that person. And the best-case scenario is that person knows the veterinarian by name. “Oh, sure. I know you Mark. I’ve talked to you many times about pasture. Yes, glad to help you.” And off you go. So that’s an important one to me. Dr. Dan: And I see down here that you have number seven here is genetic, and because that’s one that is becoming more and more of a part of the veterinary-client relationship. Dr. Mark: Right, and the NOMS study showed that veterinarians were the number one person of all the people that that farmer deals with that they’re going to ask about genetics. That surprised me a bit. I quiz people and say, “When was the first research done that showed crossbreeding was beneficial to the beef business?” I usually get guesses in the ’50s and ’60s. It was 1937. Something we knew 80 years ago, we’re still talking about? I’m confused. There’s breeds out there that are great breeds, they do good things, but if you’re running commercial cattle, you should have crossbreeding. Crossbred calves jump up and nurse faster, they nurse more colostrum, they’re healthier, the fertility of the cows is better. Let’s see, which one of those is bad? Yes, I can’t think of any. I think, as the veterinarian, you can say, “Hey, I work with Joe over here and he’s been using this breed or this composite, it’s really worked for him. I think that might help your fertility issues or your disposition, whatever. Can I help you on this area?” It’s an area that I talk to a lot of producers about. Dr. Dan: It’s awesome. Folks, lot of things a veterinarian can do to help you and your ranch and your cowherd. Thank you, Dr. Hilton for being here. Thank you for watching DocTalk. Remember, always work with your local veterinarian, and if you want to see what we do at DocTalk, you can find us on the web at I’m Dr. Dan Thomson and I will see you down the road.

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