Our dairy cattle services range from complete herd production consulting to individual animal care. We also provide value-added services including embryo transfer, genomic testing, milking system evaluation, AI training, and herdsman education through our DairySMART courses.
GVS continues to provide service in the traditional ‘James Harriot’ sense to all farm animals and horses. We provide emergency services year round and routinely visit farms to examine and treat animals that are ill or suffering. This continues to be one of the most important services offered to our clients.
Through rectal palpations, standard operating protocols and other techniques, we assist in achieving good reproductive performance, that is cows calving with genetically superior calves evenly throughout the year at a budgeted cost. This involves programs and monitoring of reproductive diseases, management of cow grouping, feeding, handling around calving, procedures for the postpartum period, nutritional content of the ration, lameness control, genetics, semen quality, and many other factors influencing reproduction and breeding. Our programs consider all of these areas.
Our vaccination programs are tailored specifically to the farm protecting against organisms that cause economic damage, such as E. coli mastitis or clostridial infections, or pose a large financial risk if they occur (small chance of occurring but large cost if it occurs) in a naïve (previously unexposed) herd. John has taken a special interest in the area and constantly updates both the products that we carry and improvements in how we use them.
Dan McDermid has taken on the challenge of analyzing milking machines, milking procedures and mastitis control programs. He has developed an expertise that now is solicited by veterinarians in the US and Canada. Our programs included the monitoring of records (DHIS and farm), of milk and somatic cells, teat health scoring, bedding management, stall design, treatment protocols, milker management and milking machine performance.
Dan has the expertise and equipment to perform all of the tests to measure the performance of the milking machine. Recommendations are shared with the equipment dealers, collaborating to solve any deficiencies. Milker technique is evaluated and training of proper milking procedures is offered.
Dick has taken and interest the prevention and treatment of lameness in dairy herds. Many factors influence lameness in dairy herds, a disease that results in significant losses through culling, including facility design (stalls and alleys), genetic conformation, hygiene, infectious diseases and nutrition. We examine lameness problems from a holistic perspective, collaborating with hoof trimmers in the area, and think that barn design and quality workmanship are critical to avoiding this problem.
Our calf programs begin with colostrum management, and include feeding programs, disease control and vaccination programs, husbandry procedures, protocols for treatment of sick calves, and the monitoring of growth performance.
We collaborate with all of the excellent nutritionists serving our clients. Our frequency on the farm and understanding of records provides an opportunity to monitor the performance of the rations fed in the herd. The performance of production, both milk volume and components, reproduction, health, and finances are reviewed and, in consultation with nutritionists, recommendations are often made on feeding programs.
We develop standard operating procedures (SOP’s) specifically for farms and provide models for the clients to customize covering areas such as fresh cow treatment, calving procedures, calf treatment, information recording, milking technique, and many more areas. SOP’s are excellent training tools for new employees and ensures that everyone understands what is expected.
Biosecurity (ensuring that diseases foreign to the herd do not enter) is becoming an issue in dairy herds as some diseases such as Johne’s, Salmonella, Campylobacter and Coxiella are becoming a public concern. In addition, dairy farmers wish to avoid diseases that effect production and finances such as Bovine Leukosis, Johne’s, IBR or BVD, to name a few. A biosecurity program addresses specific ways to avoid or control the diseases as well general methods to keep diseases out of the barn. Special ways can be used to introduce animals and control the risk, particularly in closed herds.
We have spent time with producers plans examining each area that will have an effect on animals and employees. These would include requirements for stalls, alleys, feeding and feed storage areas, holding areas, cooling systems, lighting, cow flow, parlours, treatment and hospital areas (special needs) and calf rearing facilities.
Although we have not been involved in bull selection, we consult on overall objectives and developing rational systems for bull selection that consider herd weaknesses, goals, minimum requirements and cost. This area is linked to the reproductive program and we collaborate with the AI units.
Chris has experience with quality assurance programs and has coached farmers in preparation for the records, barn procedures and changes that may be necessary for the farm to qualify as a validated dairy herd. The programs require that farms have standardized systems to ensure that the quality of milk and meat is not physically, chemically (medicines or pesticides) or biologically (cooling problems) altered. Currently BC is implementing such a program and it is expected to be required soon by processors and consumers. Programs may extend to include manure management (stewardship of the land resource) and animal welfare considerations. GVS remains current on the political changes which may some day influence our customers farms.
Our in house lab handles milk samples for bacterial culture and identification, colony counts, hygiene evaluations, and antibiotic sensitivity tests, fecal samples for culture, worm egg counts, lung worm and liver fluke diagnoses, and coccidia floatations, blood samples for complete blood counts, dehydration testing, and colostrum intake assessment, urine samples for evaluation as well as skin or hair samples for fungi, bacteria or parasites. Other tissues, blood, serum, and plasma are couriered to several different local and national labs for more complex testing.
GVS veterinarians collaborate with many experts in animal health and agrology from throughout North America to expand the knowledge offered to our clients and deal with specific problems. GVS veterinarians frequently attend veterinary conferences to keep current with dairy production medicine.
These services include the areas of financial analysis, decision making and management, farm employee management, succession planning and options, skills training, farm business management training, production and financial benchmarking, and quality assurance training. Chris has taken a further degree and training in business management (Master of Business Administration) for agricultural enterprises.