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Aiding animal health
Krispin Kannan – working with dairy farmers to help them make the best animal health decisions for their businesses.

Aiding animal health

Sheryl Brown

Building close relationships with farmers and helping them make cost-effective decisions that will benefit their business is an enormous part of the the role and something Te Awamutu veterinarian Krispin Kannan really loves.

“It’s a balancing act for animal health, whether treating an individual cow or a whole herd.

“We need to consider not only the economic impact of our decisions but also the emotional cost to the farmers.”

Animal health is a science and farmers have a lot of complex decisions to make every day from fertiliser and feed supplements through to vaccines and drenches, that all play a part in their herd’s health.

Advising farmers and helping them make the most practical, cost-effective decisions for their individual farm situation is a great challenge, Krispin says.

The dairy industry is under an increasing public microscope to deliver better animal welfare practices and a more sustainable business while remaining a profitable business, he says.

‘I’m always looking for challenges that will continue to excite me in the job I’m doing. It could be the challenge of a tricky case, a whole-herd investigation or further study.’

The public sometimes forget the passion and empathy farmers have for animals, and they could often receive tough criticism.

Every decision has to have the farm’s bottom line in mind, but a healthy cow equates to a profitable cow so farmers are driven by good animal health and animal welfare practices in order to be successful. To give farmers advice so they can achieve the balance is part of being a vet, he says.

Krispin emigrated from India to Rotorua as a seven-year-old. His mother was a practising veterinarian in India, but was unable to practice in New Zealand without several years’ more study, which wasn’t a viable option with three young boys to raise.

Her love of working with animals was something she passed on to her children and ever since he can remember Krispin was determined to work as a vet.

“There has been no other path I’ve wanted to take.”

Working outdoors was also part of the pull towards the career. Going to school in Rotorua he spent a lot of time on friends’ farms and helping with docking lambs and shearing which only further ignited his passion.

After high school he headed to Massey University to study veterinary science, one of the most competitive degrees with a strict selection process after the first semester.

Krispin missed the cut when he tried in his first year, but spent the next year studying and working in Hawke’s Bay before going back to university and being successful.

His first job was working for VetEnt at Te Awamutu, where he is now in his sixth year of fulltime work.

At 30, it’s a job that continues to throw curve balls which keeps the job interesting.

As a vet he is involved in herd health planning for his clients, individual cow medicine and surgery, and working with his clients to maximise animal health and productivity in their business.

On a bigger scale, the New Zealand Veterinary Association has set a goal that NZ will not need antibiotics for the maintenance of animal health and wellness.

That goal is to combat the global issue of antimicrobial resistance and this will have a huge impact on the dairy industry and animal health practitioners in NZ, he says.

“The way I see it is that there is always a challenge, the landscape is forever changing.”

Krispin’s goal is to always progress and move forward in life rather than getting comfortable in the same place.

“I’m always looking for challenges that will continue to excite me in the job I’m doing. It could be the challenge of a tricky case, a whole-herd investigation or further study.”

Last year he set off on a gap year with his wife Laura, who teaches fabric and technology at Cambridge High School.

He was able to do vet locum work in the United Kingdom during their trip which was a great experience and enabled him to gain skills that were transferable back home.

He has just signed up to study a Master of Business Administration at Waikato University which he will start part-time in March. He admits it’s a left-field move.

“I want to add another string to my bow to give me more options in the future. I love working in the animal health space and always will, and the business side of it goes hand-in-hand. The MBA will give me an understanding you don’t get from a vet science degree.”