Dr. Hunter Smith believes proper nutrition and care are critical for herd health
Dr. Hunter Smith and his wife Emily Smith own and operate Smith Equine and Veterinary Services in Carthage, Mo. Hunter is a 2019 graduate of Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine, and Emily is a 2016 graduate of Northern Oklahoma College.
Emily is a registered nurse at Mercy Hospital in Carthage, Mo., and she manages the office and financial work for the veterinary clinic. They recently welcomed their first daughter Ellie.
At a young age, Hunter had an interest in veterinary medicine. Growing up, he raised cattle and performance horses, and was involved in team roping. After high school, he attended Northeast Oklahoma A&M, where he was on the rodeo team.
“While I was there, I met a few different veterinarians through my classmates and found what they did interesting.” His freshman year at NEO he recalled a phrase that his professors said, “If you enjoy what you do, you will never work a day in your life,” and that has always stuck with him.
Hunter has always enjoyed working with cattle and holds a special interest for horses. He worked with a veterinarian in Oklahoma and last summer the Smiths started their small cattle herd after moving back to Carthage.
“They were my grandpa’s and he was ready to get out of the cattle business, so the timing worked out great,” Hunter said.
Along with their cattle herd, they have three horses on their farm.
The veterinary clinic, which opened in 2019, is located on their farm, but offers mostly mobile services. It is a well-maintained facility with newer equipment to provide up-to-date services for producers. The clinic offers services for large animals, including but not limited to portable and digital x-rays, ultrasounds, upper airway endoscopy, equine annual exams and routine dental care and annual herd health. They offer a haul-in facility for equine and hope to expand their cattle facilities.
Hunter is a firm believer in adequate nutrition and preventative health for animals. He believes nutrition benefits the producer by reducing the number of animals in need of treatment, and decreases the risk of pregnancy loss, allowing for a larger calf crop.
When it comes to vaccinations and herd health for cattle, prevention for respiratory diseases and pregnancy loss is important.
“Calves need adequate protection when they are stressed and going through the stockyards and shipping,” he said. “It’s generally most beneficial to deworm animals during spring and fall because that’s when worms thrive in the environment the most.”
For equine, it’s better to have fecal exams prior to deworming and only deworm those that are high shedders. This method will help cut down on the increasing resistance seen to our current dewormers.
Producers also might consider vaccinating their herd against scours in calves. Equine vaccinations should include prevention against both core and risk based. Core vaccines include Rabies, West Nile Virus, Tetanus and Eastern/Western Equine Encephalomyelitis. Risk based vaccines include Strangles, Equine Influenza, Rhinopneumonitis and many others. Many of these are transmitted horse to horse and may be considered when horses travel or come into contact with outside horses. It is best to vaccinate horses in the spring before the vector season begins; however, horses involved in a lot of traveling in the winter months may want to consider boosters in the fall. “Always make sure that any bull that is not a virgin bull gets trich tested before introducing them into your herd,” Hunter said.
Annual exams for equine consist of an overall health examination including fecal float to check for worms, vaccinations and routine dental care.
The clinic also offers annual Coggins tests to check for Equine Infectious Anemia as well as x-rays and other preventative care and treatment.
“The most rewarding part about being a veterinarian is that I get to treat animals and watch them get better knowing that without intervention, they wouldn’t be able to heal. It’s often difficult because sometimes animals are unfortunately beyond help and they have to be put down,” Hunter said.