Poultry veterinarians should think of themselves as more than just a “chicken mechanic,” but also as ambassadors of the animal agriculture profession, said Alexander Strauch, veterinarian for Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch.
While participating in a panel discussion during the Animal Agriculture Alliance 2021 Virtual Stakeholders Summit on May 6, Strauch said that veterinarians have a responsibility to do more than just care for animals. Strauch said he is also a teacher, every day, not only to people who work within Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch and the farmers whose birds he cares for, but also people who are external to the organization.
“People really want to know what I do, and what my farmers are doing, and where their food comes from,” he said. “The desire is there to know.”
Strauch added that people do trust veterinarians to do the right thing, and they will be receptive to what they have to say.
“I feel like I’m in a unique position to give some trustworthy, honest advice or facts with context and empathy,” said Strauch.
However, he said that being a good communicator isn’t necessarily easy for everyone in the profession.
“Some of us are very good at our technical skills, and some of us are not the best public speakers,” he said. “That’s a journey we all have to work on.”
And that journey can get easier, the more veterinarians work on it.
“Practice. It’s not an accident if we practice what we’re going to say and work on refining it,” he said.
Strauch said the idea behind practice is not so veterinarians can give “canned answered,” to those who ask questions, but rather to make sure that their answers are clear and concise.
Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch is Michigan’s largest egg producer and the ninth largest egg company in the United States, according to the Egg Industry Top Companies survey, with a flock of 9.7 million hens.