Veterinarian has sizable workload

February 12, 2006|By Julie E. Greene


As a large animal veterinarian, Dr. Alan Oliver's typical work day starts at 7:30 a.m. and covers 200 miles as he makes house calls to dairy cows, horses, goats and other large animals in Washington County and Franklin County, Pa.

He starts at Greencastle Veterinary Hospital, where he checks for any new appointments and returns phone messages before he hits the road.

This time of year, most of his calls are to dairy farms, where he checks to see if cows are pregnant and treats sick cows.

In the spring, visits to horse farms will pick up as foals are born and vaccinations are needed.

The practice, which has five veterinarians, also treats goats, which have become more popular as pets, says Oliver, who has been a large animal vet for 27 years.

Oliver decided to become a large animal veterinarian after growing up on a Greencastle dairy farm. He liked the academic challenge of a medical field and enjoys spending time with animals.


Here's a look at a large animal veterinarian's typical day.

While driving to his next appointment, Dr. Alan Oliver, a large animal veterinarian, checks with his office over the two-way radio to see if there are any emergency calls or updates to his schedule.

Dr. Alan Oliver works a gate to load cows into a pen for examination along State Line Road in southern Franklin County. On his left arm is a long red examination glove he wears when checking a cow's uterus for pregnancy.

To prevent carrying infectious diseases from one farm to another, Oliver disinfects his boots every time he leaves a farm. Here, he scrubs his boots with a disinfectant solution.

At Five Forks near Waynesboro, Pa., David Baker holds his cow's tail up to stabilize the cow and prevent her from kicking Oliver while he examines the cow's injured teat. Teats are usually injured from trauma such as another animal stepping on them, Oliver says. They also can become irritated from being sanitized before milking or suffer from frostbite during winter. Sanitizing the teat helps produce quality milk.

Oliver's partner, Dr. Rodney Hess, left, and assistant Simon Filbrun, finish a ventral abomasopexy to correct a displaced stomach, a common problem causing a cow to lose its appetite, Oliver says. This type of surgery is done two to three times a day at Greencastle Veterinary Hospital. A cradle is used to hold the cow upside down during the outpatient surgery.

Oliver makes several trips to his truck along Marsh Road in southern Franklin County last Tuesday to get supplies to treat a sick cow that has an injured teat. The clip on his coveralls is used to hold an examination glove to his rolled-up sleeve.

Oliver gives an IV of dextrose, calcium, vitamin B and steroids to a cow in St. Thomas, Pa., to improve her appetite. The cow had a difficultdelivery of her first calf four days earlier.

The Herald-Mail Articles