How to Cut Your Livestock Vet Bills

Livestock vet bills can be a major expense for the homesteader or small farmer. Here are some steps you can take to keep them manageable.

| January/February 1980

A new homesteader's most unexpected—and most tragic—expense is too often the cost of a veterinarian's services. In the first year that I kept animals, I spent more money having my livestock "doctored" than I've spent on my own medical needs in a lifetime.

As you might expect, much of this expense came as a result of my inexperience, but fortunately there are ways that first-time farmers can cut their vet bills.

Vets Aren't All Alike

While you shouldn't arbitrarily carry your critters to the area's most inexpensive vet, there can be considerable discrepancy in the fees that various animal doctors charge. If this is the case where you live, your neighbors have learned "who's worth it and who ain't" . . . so, before you do anything else, ask them for advice.

Many times, a livestock vet won't be esteemed so much for his or her general veterinary practice as for some specialty. I've come to rely on a local man for most of my livestock's medical needs, but—when my horse needs attention—I use a doctor in the next town who's known to be excellent with such critters. On top of that, if one of my Airedales gets sick, I take it to a small animal clinic in the city, which has better facilities . . . easy access to a lab . . . and the kind of expertise that comes only from daily work with pets.

So look around. If your animals' health problems can be solved by one vet . . . good! But the most important thing is for you to feel sure that all your beasts are getting the best care you can provide.

Before the Vet Arrives

Veterinarians may not charge by the hour . . . but you can bet that the more of their time you take, the more money the visit will cost you. You should, above all, know what you've called the doctor for. And be ready to describe—over the telephone—what appears to be wrong.

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