Established veterinarians, Drs. Bret and Tammy White have deep roots in agriculture and have a unique perspective as both producers and veterinarians.
The fourth generation to ranch in Oklahoma, Bret’s love of showing cattle led him to pursue an animal science degree and, ultimately, a career as a large animal vet, with a specialized focus on reproduction and embryo transfer.
“At nine-years-old, I began showing shorthorn and cross bred shorthorn heifers and steers all over Oklahoma and throughout the United States,” said Bret. “As a family, we started showing cattle because of my desire to become a veterinarian, and it influenced my decision to specialize in reproduction.”
Similarly, Tammy grew up showing livestock and horses in Indiana. She completed a focused equine residency, and now maintains an equine practice, in addition to both large and small animals.
“My grandfather farmed, and raised cattle and miniature horses,” shared Tammy.
Both attended Oklahoma State University and met during vet school, but they didn’t begin dating until well after graduation.
Together, the pair operates White Veterinary Services in Cushing -- a practice serving both large and small animals.
“We spend a lot of time together, especially with our veterinarian clinic,” said Bret. “We opened the clinic in 2010 and spent the first few years of our marriage building our clientele base. We both worked full time, and split our time among equine and bovine work, small animals and surgery.”
Over the last six years, Bret believes his day-to-day clientele has transitioned to be 90 percent bovine.
“Our facilities are unique in that we’re set up here to take care of the types of calls that would normally take us away from the office and out to someone’s farm,” said Bret. “I can serve more people in our rural community that way and it is more sustainable.”
The Whites intend to continue expanding their practice to serve more clientele, while building a legacy for their two young daughters.
“Hopefully, we’re building something our girls want to take over one of these days,” said Tammy. They also own a herd of purebred Herefords, Angus and commercial cattle, which they hope to pass on, as well.
“The girls go to the farm to feed with me. They enjoy the cattle and the aspects of the things we do out there. We hope the girls want to do -- and love -- the veterinary medicine side as much as we do, as well as the cattle side,” said Bret.
Mobile apps that have progressed in terms of management procedures have been beneficial. Traceability, like country of origin, is one of the big topics when we talk about the global market for beef, pork or any livestock, and technology makes it easier; but this comes with a price tag that not everyone in the beef industry is willing to pay. Apart from physical traceability, you can track the quality of the animal and the carcass characteristics better with just a blood or hair sample with modern technology.
Thanks to the availability of information on the internet, there’s a huge misconception about the hormone implants that are used. There are much higher hormone levels in other foods we eat, like organic vegetables, than what is input into our beef supply. As an industry as a whole, we need to improve our public education on hormones and hormone levels in beef. Regarding antibiotics, the FDA has initiated a veterinary feed directive restricting antibiotic use in feeds to help cut down on what enters to the packing house. People don't realize when they use the term “antibiotic-free” that any meat that lands on their table has to pass antibiotic residue testing at the packer level, before it can enter the food chain, whether it’s labeled as “antibiotic-free,” or not.
As veterinarians, we try to push the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program to our clients, to help educate and cut out problems from within our own industry -- from the producer to the feedlot, to the packer. These programs allow our clientele to understand a little bit more about antibiotic and implant usage, and clear up misconceptions related to them.
A unique aspect of us being so close to Stillwater is we have six Oklahoma State University vet school students, plus another at Colorado State, who all have worked at the clinic. We've had some really good kids come through here. We hope we are influencing them in the right ways, and they're seeing things at our clinic from a sustainability standpoint that they will take away as real world experience and apply to their own practice in the future.
Cows are bred and calves are born and raised every year on cow-calf farms and ranches, spending time grazing on grass pastures within sight of their mothers.