Mobile app gives farmers across Canada easier access to veterinarians
VETSon was launched to address a shortage of large-animal veterinarians
As farmers face a shortage of large-animal veterinarians, a father-son duo in Oxford County has launched a mobile app giving farmers easier access to vets without leaving the barn.
The app, called VETSon, allows farmers and veterinarians to set-up virtual appointments — and have prescribed medications for livestock delivered straight to the farm. VETSon just won an innovation in livestock award at the Canada's Outdoor Farm Show in Woodstock.
"There's been a need for a very long time because there's been a growing veterinarian shortage, especially those serving farm animals. It's a global challenge. The U.K., Australia, United States, are all facing severe shortages for rural veterinarians," said Colin Yates, CEO of VETSon who founded the app alongside his father, Glen Yates.
"There's a lot of farms that have been going unserved or underserved here in Canada, especially smaller farms."
The idea for VETSon was dreamed up by Glen, who has been a practicing veterinarian for 47 years. Throughout his career, he saw many large-animal vets overwhelmed due to the lengthy hours spent driving to different farms due to a shortage in veterinarians.
"There is not a enough large animal veterinarians to go around," Glen said, adding smaller farms and hobby farms can particularly find it difficult to get services, as veterinarians may spend more time at larger farms.
The mobile app, available for both Android and iPhone, was launched in late 2022 to address shortage of large animal vets and farmers' lack of immediate access to medication for their livestock. It's targeted to small farms with cattle, pigs, horses, sheep, goats, alpacas, llamas and farm pets.
"Instead of driving, with this virtual aspect of healthcare that we can provide, [vets] can actually look after a fair number of clients virtually in the time that we would have spent driving from one farm to the next farm," Glen said. "So I can actually do more clients during my day and yet not have to work."
Before farmers can begin using the app, they must provide the app information about their farm, such as what livestock they have and how they're currently managing their farm.
"We try to encourage that farms have basic supplies on-site," said Colin. "That way, when that veterinarian jumps on, they know what materials are available in terms of the ability to treat that animal rapidly because waiting even a day for medication is not ideal."
There are already 120 farms across Canada using VETSon, said Colin.
Glen attributes the app's success to its user-friendliness. "We have people who are in their 80s using it and find it's very, very usable for them."
LISTEN | Farm vets made more accessible through new app