Management And Economics

Management inefficiencies may contribute to significant financial losses in a herd. Diagnosing and repairing management inefficiencies and making recommendations to adopt technologies that can improve farm profit have been referred to as ''production medicine.''[9] Twenty-five to 30% of veterinarians are providing this service[5,9] (Table 1). The patient is herd management, not the individual cow.[9]

Services that primarily focus on herd management include ration formulation, economic analysis of management interventions, financial advising, and assessment of parlor efficiency (Table 1). A number of practitioners (25% to 50%) report that they look at production records, use computer records and advice on feed supplements, assess housing and ventilation, examine heifer growth, and use spreadsheets on a monthly basis[3,4] (Table 1). Skills needed for a production medicine program are knowledge based; services are analytical and less technical. This change can be uncomfortable for the practicing veterinarian because it requires new training to acquire analytical skills and a change in the philosophy of medicine.

Extension agents are advocating that management teams be established to help meet strategic goals on dairy farms.[10] Veterinarians are recognized as important members of these teams. Goals must be established by farm owners, and team members must have an altruistic vision to develop strategies to meet those goals. The veterinarian can be a key facilitator to help team development by incorporating team-building skills into veterinary training.

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