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Vet Eliminating Farm Calls

My veterinarian of about 10 years is a solo practitioner. She informed us at the last farm call that she will be stopping farm calls in lieu of a trailer your horse to her practice.

I feel blindsided, and wonder if this is a trend in equine practice?

My horses are generally healthy, needing only routine exams, occasional joint injections, coggins tests, and vaccines. But I worry about the future for urgent care.

Should I hope she rethinks the idea, or should I go ahead right away and line up another practice who will handle urgent and emergency care? And keep the current vet for routine wellness stuff, or just go ahead and make the break?

Hauling to the current vet is about an hour going and coming, plus prep and loading time.

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I think it will be hard getting somebody to handle on farm emergencies when they are not doing your basic routine wellness stuff. I am doing the haul to the vet thing and I dread having an emergency that I cannot haul to the clinic. I am out of the vet clinic’s area but honestly there isn’t much here where I live anyway.


I doubt there will be a reconsideration.
Farm calls are a major time sink for a vet, and if she is the only one, she can see more patients coming to her than spending hours on the road.

I would ask her to clarify about those emergency deals, but generally speaking, I’d be looking for an office that comes to the farm.
I mean, I do remember taking the horses to the farrier - back in the days when the earth was young, but generally prefered one that came to the barn.
I can’t imagine having to load up a horse for vet care (the times when it is needed are bad enough) especially when more than one animal is involved.

And last but not least, there might be personal reasons for her decision as well.


Personally, I’d be on the lookout for a new vet. So far, I’ve not heard of farm calls going extinct here. There are some procedures vets like to do in the office of course

I detest trailering into the vet clinic and am happy to pay farm call fees.


You will likely need to switch vets for general wellness. I would not expect them to come out in an emergency for someone who is not a regular client.

It’s just a change in her business model, nothing personal.


And what happens to those clients who don’t have a rig? Teleheath for horses or “be your own vet”?


I completely understand the reasons for this trend, but it makes me incredibly nervous.

It’s an inconvenience for routine things, but it’s terrifying for emergencies.

Every one of my horses has had at least one emergency vet call in their life, even my donkey. Fractures, lacerations, colics, chokes, etc. There were times when I didn’t have a trailer or live within driving distance of a 24/7 clinic. I worked as a vet tech in the past, so I have an above average ability to handle these things, yet it still terrifies me not to have emergency call service. What is the average horse owner to do?!?


This is too bad but her new business model doesn’t fit your needs and I think you’re best off finding a new vet whose business model does.


The vet closest to me has eliminated farm calls. I’m out of the service area of the only vets who do them within 50 miles. Add to this the fact that my favorite vet clinic, which is an hour and a half away, is down to 4 vets instead of their usual 8 & you can’t get an appointment until October, and everyone in my area has major anxiety.


Try to find another clinic.

  1. While I have a certain amount of sympathy for the vet — it’s only a certain amount - a very small amount. Hire a mobile vet and double your business.

My lameness vet reached the age to where he did not want to make farm calls anymore. He has three vets working for him that all make farms calls in one county and they can barely keep up.

  1. When a vet stops farm calls, what about those of us who:

2.1. Have a horse Or other livestock to unhealthy to get itself on and off the trailer.

2.2. Only need the trailer for emergencies and the tires weather rot in between.

2.3. Have reached the age that, while we can still drive better than most, we can’t physically get around that well.

2.4 Don’t even own a trailer.

It’s a low and inconsiderate blow to stop the farm calls -

To reiterate, Since when did vets decide “it’s strictly business” when all they have to do is bring on another vet, who works for himself and makes his own schedules.


I agree with you, but part of the problem is equine vets are becoming as rare as hens teeth.

Fewer graduates are choosing equine practice and those who do rarely last more than a few years.


My current vet told me there were only 22 grads for equine practice last year in the entire US :open_mouth:

My vet of 20+yrs retired his equine practice 2yrs ago.
I had trailered horses to his clinic - ~20min from my farm - in the past, but always ended up.waiting 1h+ as some emergency always came up in the clinic. Mixed practice, his wife was the primary small animal vet.
I traded the cost of a farm call for the convenience of waiting in my own barn.

I was fortunate to observe my current vet working in a friend’s barn & liked what I saw.
Then fortunate again to be close enough so she took me on as a client.

Another longtime vet here finally retired his practice. He had every right after some 40+yrs of service.
But in his last year did no emergency farm calls. Not even for existing clients.
Instead he’d refer them to other vets.
He did this without confirming with these other vets that he was giving out their numbers.
Putting them in the very awkward position of having to provide emergent service to clients they had no history with.

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This 100%
It has been awhile, but I was all excited that we got a new vet in the area. She came out multiple times and was doing wonderful. Several other friends who I respect were using her & loved her.
I called to schedule routine vacc’s and a sheath cleaning on my old gelding. I specifically told her he was a special case, needed heavily sedated, as " He will try to kill you if you even LOOK ‘down there’ " This horse was a beginner lesson horse, and a saint in every other respect but cleaning there.
Well, she decides to show up very early to my boarding barn. Gets everyone she had scheduled done and then proceeds to try to clean his sheath w/o sedation. He about took her head off. She sedates him. By that time he was too hyped up and was blowing though anything. A little 600# Arab.
I got there and was fuming, but, ok, whatever. We’ll try another day.
About 2-3 weeks later I hear through the grapevine that she accepted a job in a small animal practice. And she was telling a story about a sheath cleaning gone wrong that “put her over the edge with horses.”
To this day, she’s a small animal vet. And I am the one who had the horse who pushed Dr. XXXX to her limit…

Our local “best” vet, or I should probably call him GOD instead, if I go by what the majority of the locals think. He has chased out 3 new vets he has tried, to relieve his overworked self. I can’t possibly imagine why, he treats clients like crap, can’t read x-rays, and has screamed at me on the phone for asking simple things about my laminitic horse’s care.
One of his new vet’s saved my horse’s life and I was tempted to move to WI after her.


Isn’t it just a business? What do you do for a living? Do your clients get to just demand you do X Y Z to suit them? Do you demand your doctor come do house calls to see you? That McDonalds open at 4am because that’s when you’re hungry? That your mechanic come service your car at your house?

At the end of the day a vet practice IS a business and a vet can decide what model he/she wants to use. And the customer can go elsewhere if it’s not a fit anymore.


Ummmm, most people do not weigh 1000+ pounds and require special transport equipment to the doctor.


I actually do miss this dearly.
Sure you have to wait til the early evening, but when you are actually sick it’s much nicer to wait on the couch than to drag your miserable behind to the office to wait.
but that’s gone by way of the dodo bird I believe


Veterinary equine practice is not just a business, but a health care profession. I do think that after the doctor decides to alter the scope of her practice and no longer make farm calls, she has an ethical responsibility beyond just walking away. Timely advance notification should occur, and a smooth referral and transfer of records should take place for clients for whom the new practice model does not work.

When I retired from my practice, that is what I did. And for years before that, I took on many, many referred patients from my colleagues in the community who reached retirement age or who no longer wanted to do certain types of surgery. Patients were not abandoned to make their own arrangements for continued care.


Some doctors do house calls. But do you just expect to be able to demand that because it’s what you want?


I could not agree more that she should give adequate notice and transition her clients properly. Completely agree. But the folks on here asserting that someone else should run a business to suit them are astounding to me. As much as you like your vet, it’s a JOB and a BUSINESS for her. She is not your indentured servant. @walkinthewalk is literally in favor of telling the vet to hire a second person. Who is a client to tell a vet how to run her business and how many people to employ? Walk has no idea what the vet’s overhead/profit margin is or whether that would make financial sense but apparently as a client thinks s/he gets to demand certain services. Yet if walk was unhappy with the vet I bet s/he’d do just that— walk. There’d be no reciprocal “loyalty.” The vet is supposed to accommodate out of the good of her own heart but the customer is always right and can take his/her business elsewhere with no notice or loyalty. How does that make any sense?


I’m not demanding it. But, it just seems like a realistic part of the job when your patients weigh over a half ton and are hard to transport. Especially when they are sick/injured.
Should every horse owner have to buy a $50,000 rig for emergency use?