Totally Vets Ltd arose from the metamorphosis of Manawatu Veterinary Services and Awapuni Veterinary Services. The transformation of these two private companies occurred because the shareholders of both considered that the strengths of each practice would benefit the clients of both.

Awapuni Veterinary Services brought a strong equine influence to add to Manawatu Veterinary Services' inimitable reputation with pets and sheep and beef farms. Both practices brought considerable practical experience and knowledge of the dairy industry.

Totally Vets are committed to earning your respect and demand for our services by keeping your animals healthy and by sharing your successes. Totally Vets will achieve this by being very good at what we do, by taking pride in what we do, by thoroughly enjoying what we do and by working with like-minded people.

What Totally Vets does is provide 'services' for animals and the land they're on.


Where we've come from...

Samuel George Cockroft (b1864) was among the veterinarians sent from New Zealand to take care of the 5000 horses shipped to the South African War (1889-1902). On his return, "Cocky" set up a vet practice in Feilding.

In 1946, the government set up the Veterinary Services Council (VSC) to promote a nationwide veterinary service for livestock owners. The VSC encouraged farmers to set up practices (known as clubs) throughout the country and employ vets.  It offered grants for clinics and houses for accommodation, loaned equipment, and initially even subsidised vets' salaries. Veterinary clubs were also helped along by debentures from farmers, and loans from banks and dairy factories. Committees of local farmers managed the clubs, with input from the senior veterinarian.

It was during this era that the Feilding and Districts Vet Club, based in Kimbolton, and the Rongotea Vet Club were established.

Totally Vets' parentage consists of two of the three possible types of club:

  • Clubs set up in association with dairy factories but with voluntary membership
  • Clubs in dairying or meat and wool farming areas, with voluntary membership and no dairy-factory involvement

As farmers became more aware of the value of rural veterinary services and the advantage of working with a veterinarian, private and contract practices developed. In 1963, the VSC approved the formation of contract practices from existing veterinary clubs. Senior veterinarians owned and managed the practices and leased assets from the club. The Feilding and Districts Vet Club contracted Manawatu Vet Services to provide veterinary services to its members in 1988.

The Feilding Vet Club was relocated to Feilding, employing a growing number of vets. In the 1950s, "Feilding vet Geoff Somerville was called by the local vicar to help his wife. She was about to give birth, and the local doctor was clearly not going to get there in time. Geoff obliged, and all went well. But it was a revelation for Geoff, who had never realised that human babies were born head first - unlike cows and sheep, whose forelegs came first. Overall Geoff preferred cows, which were easier to assist!"

In 1962 the Faculty of Veterinary Science was set up at Massey University; New Zealanders no longer needed to train in Australia. The Rongotea Vet Club was wound up; a third of its clients going to each of Southern Rangitikei Vet Services (Bulls), Manawatu Vet Services and Massey Farm Services.  A "private practice" was established in Palmerston North by Jim Kelly, Sam Burgess and Gordon Cuming. KBC, as they became known, was the parent practice of Awapuni Vet Services.

In 2006, Manawatu and Awapuni Veterinary Services merged to form Totally Vets. The diversity of the veterinarian's role has expanded significantly since the days of our pioneering predecessors. It's this diversity and its continued growth that brought about the merger, which has now created a need for larger premises. But more on this in the next chapter of "Where we've....".

As people adopted pets into their homes in urban areas and these animals assumed the status of family members, the role of the urban vet grew hugely. Nowadays, an urban vet may have 20 clients per day and contact another 10 or more to report lab tests or discuss follow-ups - house calls are much rarer than they used to be.  Ninety percent of the animals they see each day are cats and dogs but may include guinea pigs, rabbits, caged birds, fish, reptiles, ferrets, rats and mice.

Rural vets do most of their work on the farm and may make just a few visits a day because of the long travel distances. They deal with large, commercially valuable animals such as sheep, cows or horses and may be called out at any hour of the day or night.

The veterinary world has changed. It is an intriguing reflection of our community. To be a part of the growth and development of our community and then become a prominent aspect of the landscape reflects on the amazing progress our community has made.

Reference: Hamish Mavor & Bob Gumbrell. ‘Veterinary sertvices - early vet services, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 1-Mar-09



Where we're going...

While the number of prosperous palates in the world grows, New Zealand is in a grand position to be providing them with food that meets their stringent demands.

There are huge challenges worldwide facing human beings: population growth, climate change, increasing demands on and degradation of land and water resources, and the logistics of feeding this burgeoning population sustainably without further destroying biodiversity. For New Zealand, as a country that relies more heavily than any other trading nation on the export of agricultural products, our ability to have the highest standards of food safety, biosecurity and animal welfare is vital in order to gain access to the most valuable world markets.

Alongside this, the agricultural sector and its livestock production systems are undergoing major change. There is increasing integration of farming and processing, with the development of larger farming units expected to improve efficiency and economies of scale, when done well.

The demands for veterinary services are becoming more sophisticated and veterinarians are expected to provide services that are whole-farm based rather than merely dealing with the individual animal.  We are expected to have broader skills in farm consultancy and management and not just be able to provide technical skills and advice on animal health and welfare.

It is important that we move in this direction, as many veterinary procedures and associated products become commoditised. The science behind these procedures and products tends to be forgotten: they are so successful, we forget what life was like before we had them.  Who remembers hectic springs rushing around running calcium borogluconate into cow after cow with milk fever, before the days of magnesium supplementation, DCADs and ‘springer diets'!   Also with increasing herd and flock sizes, there tends to be more of a ‘one size fits all' approach. Nowadays, once the suitability of such interventions has been established for a particular herd or flock, its execution becomes a technical exercise.

Totally Vets' ambition is to provide our clients with outstanding value from improvements in animal health and management inside the farm gate.  We are also working with a wider audience including other professionals to maximise the value that farmers can generate from their own operations.

Totally Vets continues to work closely with Beef+Lamb New Zealand in hosting the Manawatu Monitor farms. The encouraging uptake by clients of sponsor-subsidised discussion groups is an indication of our commitment to translating science into practicality. Dr Trevor Cook is veterinary advisor to Wormwise, a national extension plan to manage drench resistance in New Zealand. Our research team of Trevor Cook, Ginny Dodunski, Greta Baynes and Charmaine Robertson is heavily involved in industry trials.

On the dairy scene, lameness, reproductive losses and milk quality remain New Zealand's biggest animal health issues. Tools to deal with these issues have been collated by DairyNZ, and Totally Vets has skilled veterinarians capable of assisting you to implement them on your farm and add value inside the farm gate.

Australia may be called the ‘lucky country' but the demand for food will outstrip the demand for iron, and New Zealand is in a prime position to be a significant supplier of the world's nutritional needs.

Totally Vets' challenge is to maintain traditional veterinary roles plus grow our contribution to securing and enhancing rural New Zealand's profitability, sustainability and competitiveness. We are hugely excited by this!


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