Review/Oorsig Volume 22, Issue 05 - Page 18

Oorsig/Review Flower power times. Recent graduates wanted to get a year’s practical experience under their belts before going to the UK to do locums and travel around Europe. Romyn was an excellent teacher and it was a privilege to be under his tutelage both as a veterinarian and to learn life’s real values. Roger returned to Estcourt early 1971 as an assistant and a few years later became a partner. Times were changing and Romyn felt that better services could be rendered to the growing number of large animal clients, both dairy and beef. There was some “routine work” done in the herds but it was still fairly haphazard. He called a meeting of all the clients at the Mooi River Country Club in 1972 and proposed the adoption of what we now know as “Herd Health”. Regular scheduled visits to the farm for fertility work, mastitis control, proper vaccinations, deworming and dipping protocols, etc. The farmers were impressed and many immediately “signed up”. Within a short time, regular visits began. It must be remembered that most herds were relatively small so that two or even three visits took place in a morning in a specific area of the practice. Mileage charges were strictly shared. In a more seasonal way the beef farmers were also on board, with Bull fertility tests, sheath washes and pregnancy tests. The practice ran a simple milk lab basically to identify infected quarters before dry-off. The results were then graded, and only infected quarters / cows were treated dependent on herd SCC, age of cow, type of infection etc. It worked very well but it did eat into time off because it was a vet’s only job! He also started badly infected Babesia / Anaplasma problem herds on an “autogenous“ vaccine programme. Blood was drawn from about five older cows (in citrate) in each herd and 2ml was injected IM into calves at about 7 months of age. Probably not overly scientific but it worked! He had a particular interest in the younger farmers starting their dairying careers. They had the utmost respect for and were more than likely slightly in awe of him. Some admitted to hiding away any cows that were for some reason not up to scratch for the routine visit. He told one chap who was a bit slack “You are a huge disappointment to me!”. Straight talk! What Romyn pioneered in these parts all those years ago continues today. Harsh economic times in the dairy industry allows only the strongest farmers to survive. The larger herds get bigger and more efficient. Seasonal pasture-based systems are dominant, there are some TMR herds and smaller all year round calving herds usually have some other form of agricultural income as well. Herd health is still the backbone of the practice he started on his own 66 years ago! What is most satisfying is the fact that the sons and the grandsons of the original clients are still with the practice. He was an external examiner for Gynaecology at the Faculty for many years. With his exceptional broad-based knowledge and practicality he frequently returned to work somewhat concerned for some students’ futures. He was a great lover of the outdoors and wild places but without doubt his greatest passion was fishing. He was an expert fly fisherman and realized his life’s ambition when he landed a trout of over 10lbs from the Rangitikei River in New Zealand in 1983. Romyn was a wonderfully dedicated family man, and at his happiest when surrounded by his children, grandchildren and friends. Sadly, he quickly succumbed to an acute malignancy and passed away at peace on Good Friday, 1990. [13 April 1990 – Bill Posthumus] I quote from a letter of condolence our practice received from a young dairy manager: “In this day and age of materialism, money-grabbing and insincerity, true gentlemen are few and far between. Consequently, the loss of someone of the calibre of Romyn leaves the world a poorer place. For my part, I shall be ever grateful for his companionship whilst fishing and his tuition, not only in animal health, but in how to be a decent human being.” Romyn brought honour to the profession he loved and served so well and we as his colleagues can justly be proud of him. He was a legend in the Estcourt parts as were his contributions to the dairy and beef Industries. There will never be another “Big Doc” or “Evers”, as he was fondly known! Roger Turner November 2018 18