Dr. Chris Mahlerbe’s career path was a no-brainer. He knew from the time he was a child that he was going to have a career as a livestock veterinarian.
“I became a vet because when I was a kid growing up, our family was friends with our local vet,” said Mahlerbe. “I liked the way he interacted with the community and got to be on the farms to help the farmers with their livestock.”
A livestock veterinarian isn’t like the veterinarian you might take your dog or cat to – they dedicate themselves to taking care of farm animals, rather than smaller pets. This means they practice preventive care and treat the injuries and diseases of animals who are bred for food and other products – like dairy cows. But, just like the vet for a dog or cat, livestock vets ensure cows live happy, healthy lives with vaccinations and treatment for any issues that come up.
Mahlerbe went the livestock route because he knew he would enjoy a career where he could be outside all day, rather than cooped up in a clinic. Plus, he loves the interaction with the farm owners – he enjoys working with them and getting to know them. Currently, Mahlerbe oversees seven dairies and gets to spend the entire day with the farmer and cows each time he visits one of the dairies he serves.
Because dairy farmers work so closely with their veterinarians, they quickly develop a deep mutual respect for one another.
“My cows are the most important asset on my farm, so I have to trust that my veterinarian is doing a great job,” said Shelly Dickinson, who owns and operates Mountain View Dairy in Loveland, Colo. “Chris helps me bring my animal care practices to the next level and gives me the reassurance I need to know that my cows are being taken care of to the best of our ability.”
Since cows are such large creatures – and because dairies in Colo. can have anywhere from 100 to 10,000 cows – loading them into a vehicle or trailer to take them to a vet clinic isn’t a realistic option. Dairy farmers work closely with their vet to ensure cows are healthy and not showing signs of distress, are living in good conditions and are eating a healthy, well balanced diet. Relying on a veterinarian to make consistent trips to the farm is key for every dairy operation.
“Being out and about every day is really the best part of my job,” says Mahlerbe. “Even in cold weather, I love caring for these amazing creatures and helping ensure they are healthy and living the best life possible.”
It is important to make sure all animals are happy and healthy – and livestock veterinarians make that possible for dairy farmers. They are part of the reason dairy farmers continue to provide tasty, safe and nutritious dairy products for your table.