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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
first the back story:
The vet we have been using is young, just a couple of years out of school. He is very pleasant and pretty easy to deal with, though he is somewhat inexperienced. Time will help him there. Two years ago he came out and castrated a half dozen bull calves, but left long pieces of tissue hanging and there was a fair amount of bleeding. He returned that night to check on the calves and clamped and cut off the tissue. This was the first time we had ever had any problems at all with castrations. Vet did not charge for return visit. I felt that was fair.

yesterday the same vet came to castrate 5 bull calves, calves were up and things went fairly smoothly, though one calf left the chute bleeding. He was put back in and the vet clamped everything off.

When the vet left, everything seemed status quo, though when I returned 3 hours later to move the herd to new grass, we found one calf, a different one, bleeding fairly steadily...there were small puddles all over the field. This was bright red blood, calf was a bit slow..I am not sure how, but we got the mother and bleeding baby back into the barn. I called the vet and first he told me I could pack the scrotum with a facecloth and safety pin it in place!...um, no not doing that. he said he would come back and take care of him. Which he did. the fix involved sutures and some pain meds.

I paid for the first visit before the vet left …$198 …..for 5 calves.
I have now received a second bill for the return visit, another $150...in addition to which I had to buy a new gate that the distressed mother cow destroyed in the dark last night. Which would not have happened if the vet had not had to come back..gate was 120 plus two other charges, this makes a very expensive castration event. Nearly $500 for 5 castrations.

I am asking for suggestions as to whether or not I should broach the idea of him not charging me for the second visit. He is not the only vet in the area, and according to him he has never had this problem any other place except our farm. which means nothing.. I probably will not have him back unless I am in a pinch. I certainly do not want to alienate him. He is a decent person, but seems to have gotten more into the detailed billing...a charge for everything..a farm call fee does not include any exam...that's an extra. as well as any treatment...plus meds if necessary.. I think a farm call should include at least a basic assessment of the animal?? Plus they charge an hourly fee..

Before I respond to this latest bill, I would like to hear your ideas so I don't go off the deep end.

Is this the norm now for vets ? thanks for any advice. I want to pay for services that I ask for, and always have paid promptly. If this had not happened before I might be more generous in spirit.
 

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I do not think he should charge you for those follow ups. You need to be prepared for an unexpected response. Have a plan B. Decide how hard you are going to push back. Talk to some other cattlemen in your area to get a feel for "normal and customary".

Have you considered banding. It is very easy, and will save you money. Takes less than 5 minutes per bull calf.

I use both a California bander and a Callicrate bander

I will say the California bander takes some hand strength, and the California bander takes three hands.

https://www.amazon.com/California-Bloodless-Castration-Bander-Stainless/dp/B0771T5364
https://callicratebanders.com/
 
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You are right to not want to alienate him. You may need him someday for something much more serious than castrations...which you should learn to do yourself IMO. Even though I'm sure it's annoying to you, don't include the gate in the perceived price...it's part of handling cattle. Even with that aside...$200 for 5 calves seems steep, notwithstanding his return charge which is ridiculous. I doubt it will do you much good to protest honestly. I would chalk it up to lesson learned and figure out a way to not get charged that again...

I band as soon as calf is dry. I have banded calves as heavy as 500 lbs. Large calves can be banded with XL bands or callicrate like HD mentioned, but I do that as a last resort. Newborn calves are a 30 second band, and can be combined with ear tagging. Get good at counting to 2 quickly :). A helper can keep mama calm. Newborn banding doesn't set them back in performance like banding weaning age calves. I know some people immunize at birth as well as give a tetanus shot, but my vet advises against both. He's been practicing 45 years and has never seen a tetanus case from banding IN OUR AREA, and says to wait 6 months at least for vaccines as it will be more effective.

I'm sorry you got dinged. Good large animal vets are getting scarce pretty much everywhere.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I have recently become aware of another mobile large animal vet who is not far away. I have inquired about his fee schedule And I am also considering an appropriate response to vet who did the castrations.

he charged me an emergency after hours fee as well as charges for the sutures.

I don’t want to cut off all connections there. Yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks. I really want to have a rational response. I can probably learn to band. My herd is small and has been managed for temperament. Of course handling often and sweet feed helps.

we wait on vaccines til about 4 or 5 months. I did give tetanus yesterday but will find a blackleg vaccine that includes that.
 

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I am still disturbed from teaching my better half how to band a calf. After her first successful band application, she jumped up and down with a big grin...too big and looking at me! I only handle the rowdy calves now, but that look on her face.....I am not sure that talent should have been shared.
 

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I am still disturbed from teaching my better half how to band a calf. After her first successful band application, she jumped up and down with a big grin...too big and looking at me! I only handle the rowdy calves now, but that look on her face.....I am not sure that talent should have been shared.
Do you sleep well at night. Just don't get your wife mad at you :)
 

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Do you sleep well at night. Just don't get your wife mad at you :)
I sleep like a baby. There isn't a headgate or squeeze chute in the bedroom. Plus, she really is a sweetheart.....but, she would have to be to put up with me.
 
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I am still disturbed from teaching my better half how to band a calf. After her first successful band application, she jumped up and down with a big grin...too big and looking at me! I only handle the rowdy calves now, but that look on her face.....I am not sure that talent should have been shared.
Funny story:
Years ago, my wife assisted me in banding a calf...may have been her first time ever. One of my older cows was notorious for hiding her calves well enough that I often didn't realize she had calved for days. This time her bull calf had to be a week old by the time I discovered him, and was fast and aware (bad combination). I had the tag filled out and loaded and the band inserted into the bander. All we had to do is get a hold of him, flip him, hold him and get to work.

Since she hadn't ever worked the bander and tagger before, it was her job to hold him once we got him down...which of course involved holding each leg so I could get a hold of his nuggets. We managed to tackle him... in the middle of the pasture right on top of a huge cow pie. This calf was strong and was kicking and flailing like a banshee throwing cow sheet in my wife's face and hair as well as all over me. The poo was slippery and my wife had a heck of a time hanging on to the calf's legs while I banded him. I couldn't help myself as I was laughing hysterically which only made my wife more upset as she spit to clear her face of perceived poo on her lips. I finally tagged the calf's ear and by this time, the calf had calmed down and stopped struggling as we laid over him. I moved my face over to my wife's face and quietly said to her, "I've never been so turned on by you in my life!"...

...She laughed briefly, got up, and called me an idiot. It was a messy experience, but we'll get mileage from that story for another 20-30 years I'll bet.

And gwithrow, that's why you band as soon as they are dry.
 

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Thanks. I really want to have a rational response. I can probably learn to band. My herd is small and has been managed for temperament. Of course handling often and sweet feed helps.

we wait on vaccines til about 4 or 5 months. I did give tetanus yesterday but will find a blackleg vaccine that includes that.
It stinks to be in a position where you have to measure your response based on the availability of other options.
I have been, imo, overcharged for emergency services in the past. Then again, what is an emergency call worth?
My initial thought here was to make a calm, polite call to the vet and ask why they are billing follow up charges for the 2nd procedure. They suggested you pack the area and use safety pins; he returned and had to stitch it up and provide meds, so it wasn't just a simple thing.
If he is firm that you owe the bill, and you don't have other options, you should pay it.
If he is firm that you owe the bill and you don't agree, you can pay it and let him know you won't need his services any further.
Personally, I try to learn as much as I can to avoid using vets. They are needed and important, but for a lot of folks who raise livestock or have small homesteads, a vet bill or two can be the difference in profit or loss on an animal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I have appreciated reading all the replies, I did hear back from another new vet not too far from here..western NC, his fees on paper are similar to first vet. I am fairly certain that each situation has its own circumstances that affect the fee for that day. However he estimated that castration for calves would be about 15-20 each plus basic farm call fee of $50. I think that is a bit more in line with what I have shelled out for this before.

I am pretty unhappy that this is even a topic worthy of discussion. As a former midwife, I encountered many unexpected circumstances, none of which changed the fee schedule, even if return visits were required. I do most of my own cow treating. However age and reduced strength in my hands limits me now in performing certain tasks..ie calf pulling...mostly I try to avoid problems and keep the herd healthy and well fed. If I need a vet, however, I want to have a list to chose from.

I have not read any info that has helped shed light on why there was "arterial bleeding post castration"...what caused this in the first place? Sometimes **** happens. I am glad the calf is alive or least he was last night. I am surprised that this was the second time with this vet that we have had castration issues. I may be a slow learner, but this guy will not be invited out to do any more of those. The $130 bill for the second visit was the cost after he took off the usual farm call fee of $50 and a usual charge for an exam.. He charged $95 for the emergency after hours call and $35 for the chill out meds...I will send him a note along with the payment. I will only use his services again if there is not another option. In our area equestrian work is plentiful and those folks seem to have deeper pockets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
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This is the note I sent along with his asked for payment. It merely states my opinion. I think it is important that he is aware of what I think of the extra charges for the return visit which came about as a direct result of the castration.

I will be surprised if he responds
 

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I have appreciated reading all the replies, I did hear back from another new vet not too far from here..western NC, his fees on paper are similar to first vet. I am fairly certain that each situation has its own circumstances that affect the fee for that day. However he estimated that castration for calves would be about 15-20 each plus basic farm call fee of $50. I think that is a bit more in line with what I have shelled out for this before.

I am pretty unhappy that this is even a topic worthy of discussion. As a former midwife, I encountered many unexpected circumstances, none of which changed the fee schedule, even if return visits were required. I do most of my own cow treating. However age and reduced strength in my hands limits me now in performing certain tasks..ie calf pulling...mostly I try to avoid problems and keep the herd healthy and well fed. If I need a vet, however, I want to have a list to chose from.

I have not read any info that has helped shed light on why there was "arterial bleeding post castration"...what caused this in the first place? Sometimes **** happens. I am glad the calf is alive or least he was last night. I am surprised that this was the second time with this vet that we have had castration issues. I may be a slow learner, but this guy will not be invited out to do any more of those. The $130 bill for the second visit was the cost after he took off the usual farm call fee of $50 and a usual charge for an exam.. He charged $95 for the emergency after hours call and $35 for the chill out meds...I will send him a note along with the payment. I will only use his services again if there is not another option. In our area equestrian work is plentiful and those folks seem to have deeper pockets.
 

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Myself and a friend that also has pigs, etc. do almost all of our own stock. If i have to have the vet do it i load it in the truck and take stock to him and i help him do it in the back of the truck. Much cheaper this way. No travel time involed for him.
 

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The charge for the gate is off the deep end. Any castration includes the risk of bleeding. Sorry for your bad luck. Not the Vet's fault. He charges for a farm visit. That's his costs for the time in the truck and fuel. What he does after he shows up is extra. If a return farm call was due to something he did wrong, then a second charge could be wrong. But bleeding after castration isn't the Vet's fault. With the shortage of large animal Vets, you are lucky he came out that same afternoon.

Since you have a cattle chute, have you considered banding your bull calves. It does require learning to get both testicles on the far side of the band. But it is bloodless. You do have to get right at it and not wait too long to do it.

BTW, since Vets have to take more years of education than a medical doctor, you are blessed that you get to talk to him on the phone, free. Its been 40 years since I was able to talk to my family doctor on the phone.
 

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Dang I'm glad I know how to castrate and band or I'd go broke! I'm 58 and learned how when I was 10. Castrating over 100 bull calves a year has saved me a good chunk! Just a bit of advice that seems to work. Check the signs before castrating. We hardly have any blood loss and/or problems when we castrate using the dates in the Farmers Almanac. Signs need to be moving toward the head. My grandma and grandpa taught me to watch the signs. Sometimes we have to plan on gathering calves and working them close to those dates. I use a pair of pliers after I cut off a part of a finger when the calf jumped! Just grab the bottom of the scrotum with your pliers, twist until slack is taken up and cut above your jaws. Seems to cut through the inner membrane and the testes are easier to remove. Reach up, pull and finish by cutting the cord and shoot some powered wound spray on opening. Also easier if you tie the leg or have someone pull it (side you are working on) back in the chute before you start.
 
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