Occupation: Veterinarian in the heavy calves sector

Clad in a protective suit, gloves, and shoe covers, Dr. Frederic Pollack walks down the aisles of the barn, like an inspector looking for the slightest sign of illness or discomfort. calf cough Messy coat. Amorphous animals. convulsive breath; Gonorrhea in the eye. It also monitors the inventory. Is the air quality adequate? Are biosecurity measures respected? Do animals get fresh water and food?

global vision

Frederic Pollack has 20 years of experience as a veterinarian with heavy calves. He is the owner and co-founder of Triple V, a county-wide outpatient veterinary service for large numbers of animals.

his mission? Disease prevention at the herd level to ensure farm profitability. This particularly includes educating producers on biosecurity issues and advanced disease knowledge across the production network. “We have become, in a way, specialists in epidemiology and management of large herds,” summarizes Dr. Pollack.

This is why a vet rarely interferes with a sick person. “If I look at every animal, I see every tree, but I don’t see the whole forest. After that, I risk missing out on problems and especially prevention,” explains Dr. Pollack, whose job requires an unparalleled sense of observation.

He puts his hands in the dough and intervenes in the case of animal deaths individually. The vet regularly dissects the dead calves. The goal is to determine the causes of death in order to guide its recommendations to producers, but also to understand the development of diseases. “It’s like opening a Pandora’s box. We discover valuable information about the health of the herd and the diseases that affect it,” argues the veterinarian. That is why he is pleased with this part of his work, because it is as hard as it is.

dynamic sector

If he can focus his efforts on prevention, that’s thanks to the producers’ independence. The latter performs several tasks: vaccination, administration of medicines, samples, sometimes even dissection in the producers of integrated farms. “Heavy calf breeders are very educatedIntelligent, knowledgeable and proactive. It is very motivating to practice in this field,” rejoices the vet who has worked with them for 20 years.

Essentials in his collection include personal protective equipment as well as knives and scissors for performing autopsies.  There is no medicine there, as the farms have their own emergency pharmacy.

Essentials in his collection include personal protective equipment as well as knives and scissors for performing autopsies. There is no medicine there, as the farms have their own emergency pharmacy.

Friedrich Pollack started his career as a pharmacist, working in the field of animal health. After graduating in 2001, he selected large numbers of animals, attracted by the intellectual and Cartesian nature of this specialty in veterinary medicine. The pig farmer was the beginning of his career, but he soon migrated to heavy veal. Today co-owner of Triple V, Mobile Veterinary Services, dedicates itself almost exclusively to this dynamic sector.

Between the stable and the office

A vet spends an average of two to three days a week in the field. His visits to the farm are punctuated by long road trips, two to four hours a day, which he spends on the phone to accompany his clients. Although his company is based in Acton Vale in Montérégie, the vet serves farms across Quebec, and his main client is the giant Délimax. Its clients include 80% of integrated production and 20% of independent breeders, for a total of 50,000 milk-fed and 80,000 grain-fed calves.

Mr. Pollack must be flexible even though emergency management is different from his counterparts in the meat or dairy sector.

For two days on the farm, Dr. Pollack spends an average of one day behind his computer. Writing prescriptions, team meetings, analyzing data, monitoring animal husbandry at the population level fills his schedule. These analyzes have proven to be essential for a veterinarian with heavy calves in order to prevent disease and advise breeders wisely.

Frederic Pollack performs an autopsy to determine the cause of the death of a milk-fed calf.

Frederic Pollack performs an autopsy to determine the cause of the death of a milk-fed calf.


specialty standing

We can count on the fingers of one of our veterinarians working in the heavy veal industry in Quebec. They are four to accompany the county breeders. A small area where the spirit of collaboration reigns, Dr. Frederic Pollack testifies: “We all speak the same way when we face the challenges of our sector: the use of antibiotics and the quality of the calves at the entrance.”

How do you deal with antibiotic resistance?

In the heavy veal industry, producers have a reputation for constantly renewing their practices. A good move for the industry … which nonetheless has a downside: innovations contribute to the emergence of new diseases. “In recent years, we have had to overcome challenges, particularly with the Salmonella Dublin bacteria and the arrival of other diseases,” says Dr. Pollack, who then had to do a lot of education with the breeders.

Antibiotic resistance is the challenge of the hour for calf producers. Vaccination, implementation of biosecurity measures, administration of alternative therapies and selection of “all in all abroad” in particular contribute to the reduction of antibiotic use. But that’s not enough, Dr. Pollack advises. At the moment, we are limited in the effectiveness of the procedures in place. We need better quality calves,” he says unequivocally.

In Canada, calves are transported eight days after birth. “It is very young. At this point, the calf’s immune system is still too immature to adequately protect it from the many pathogens it is exposed to due to the multiplicity of animal sources,” he says. Salmonella presents a great danger in the first weeks, sometimes causing the dead strain to die within the herds. “I have already seen mortality rates of 20-25%,” the vet testifies.

“If the calves reach 20 days of age, it will make a huge difference in the health of the calves and will help us reduce the use of antibiotics,” believes Dr. Pollack.

The mortality rate for Quebec calves is estimated to be between 7 and 9%, compared to 3% on European farms that recommend moving them around three weeks after birth.

Marilyn Joy Racecott / special cooperation

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