In 1946 Gordon Yockney arrived in Auckland by ship from England to be met at the wharf by farmers representing both Franklin and Matamata Vet Clubs.
The offer of a ready to use house (and flowers for Mrs Robina Yockney) ensured the Yockneys' moved straight from the wharf to Papakura, where Gordon became the first vet working for Franklin Vet Club.
At this time Gordon covered an area from One Tree Hill to Kaiau, Mercer and Waiuku. There were only two or three small animal vets in Auckland and no drug wholesalers. Calcium borogluconate was made by boiling calcium gluconate and boraric acid on the kitchen stove. There were no intramammary cerates; instead acriflavine slaves were made in Robina's bath tub. Sulph drugs had been used on troops in WW2 and were only about to arrive in veterinary medicine. Penicillin was not mass produced until 1944 and it was nearly 1950 before it could be used by vets.
Written by Ross Beal 2012
Gordon was soon joined by Joe Gould, Ken Scott, other international vets and young Kiwi trained in Australia, under Veterinary Service Council Scholarships and bonds.
In 1963 Gordon, Joe and Ken formed a private practice, Franklin Veterinary Services and moved into their first Papakura clinic in Elliot Street. They contracted their services to the Club and its members, becoming the first contract vet practice in NZ, setting the model that many followed.
In 1967 Massey University graduated its first class of vets including Gordon and Robina's son Nigel. In 1971 Nigel joined Franklin Vets at Pukekohe. The Pukekohe clinic, surgery and dispensary became located in the spartan surroundings of Nigel's basement garage in Station Road, supported by an office in the main street.
In 1975, when I joined the practice, Gordon, Joe and Ken were working in Papakura supported by the Americans Joe and Tedi Busch, Nigel, Stu Southwell and Ian Douglas worked in Pukekohe. Gordon retired later that year. Phil Holloway joined the practice in 1977 followed by John Maclachlan in 1978 when I left on my OE. A band of 9-10 vets worked together through the late 1970's.
Tedi Busch set about developing the small animal side of the practice and in 1976-77 new clinics, with modern small animal facilities were opened in both Papakura and Pukekohe. Small animal services continued to grow and in 1982 Nick Twyford joined the practice as our second dedicated companion animal vet.
In the ensuing years the practice has expanded to Waiuku, Te Kauwhata and Taupiri. A series of new clinics have been built to provide you with an expanding range of services from ultrasound pregnancy testing to cancer chemotherapy.
The veterinary team has grown to 22, with 14 doing farm and equine work plus 8 caring for companion animals. The vets are supported by 50 nurses, technicians, receptionists and administration staff, many working part time and total 30 full time equivalent positions.
Franklin Vets has a reputation throughout the veterinary profession for innovation and leadership, from being the first contract practice, to the leadership roles several of the current Directors hold within the profession today.
Throughout his 34 year retirement Gordon kept a distant eye on Franklin Vets. On his death in 2009, aged 93, I was privileged to be able to eulogise the contribution he made to the founding years of Franklin Vets and to the then 63 years of service that had followed.
The current Directors and team are committed to continuing to provide you with the high quality services and innovations established by the founders of the practice.
As I prepare to step aside as a Director and shareholder in Franklin Vets let me take you on a journey through some of my impressions of the past 37 years.
When I joined Franklin Vets in Papakura as a new graduate from Massey in January 1975, East Tamaki, Clevedon and the land around the airport were then all in commercial farms, mostly dairy.
The Karaka district, which became my practice area, was covered fence to fence with winter milk farms generally milking less than the then national herd average size of 113 cows, often in walk through cowsheds. There was not a colonnaded house or an electric controlled gateway in sight.
I had the dream job for a young vet from a Waikato dairy farm, doing farm work in the mornings and small animals every afternoon and all day on Wednesdays. My brief was to look after the Karaka clients to the best of my ability under the guidance of the two Joes; Gould & Busch. Magnesium supplementation had not been perfected so there were plenty of cases of milk fever, grass staggers, retained placenta, black mastitis and dislocated hips to keep a keen young vet happy.
In the afternoons I assisted Tedi Busch and Stu Southwell (and later Phil Holloway) in developing the small animal side of the practice. Tedi was not keen on orthopaedic surgery so she coached me into it. I developed a real passion for this "sterile engineering" which was hard to give up when I decided to concentrate on farm practice in the 1980s. We all pitched into making the small animal practice grow. By the time Chris and I left on our OE in 1978 there were new clinics in Papakura and Pukekohe.
Chris and I wandered the world for two years, working in Britain and South Africa, before returning to Franklin Vets in 1979, pregnant and penniless; the two perfect motivations that I now look for in aspiring fifth year graduate vets. So it was nose to the grind stone, under the dual motivations of babies and mortgages that are common to most in their 30s. In 1982 on the retirement of Joe Gould and Ken Scott I became a shareholder and Director of Franklin Vets.
In 1983 we started the computerisation of the practice with the purchase of a single desktop computer, printer and software for $33,000, equivalent to $100,000 in today's money. How things have progressed. Today the five clinics are connected with a real time network running 35 workstations and 20 laptops, not to mention the 17 recently acquired web enabled smart phones that are being used to explore the benefits of bringing the digital age "cow side".
This computer package included the first computerised herd health software to be used in New Zealand. During the 80's we pioneered this work, operating a bureau service to 25 farms, linked to LIC by floppy disc delivered by snail mail. So began my and this practice's long association with the business of dairy farming, which is now seen in the form of Infovet, InCalf and Intelact farm consultancy services operating in the practice today, over the internet of course.
Mastitis and the BSCC penalty of 1,750,000
The development of automated somatic cell counters in the 1980's began the testing of bulk milk and individual cows for subclinical mastitis. The three South Auckland dairy factories were among the first to tentatively venture into this mine field of science, politics, superstition and farmer egos, by setting the first bulk milk penalty standard at 1,750,000 cells per ml, to ensure no supplier was penalised in the first season. The intensity of the mastitis work in this period lead me to develop the Grade Buster approach to solving milk quality problems that became a blue print for the industry as SCC and total bacteria counts were progressively lowered by regulation. A decade representating the Dairy Cattle Vets on the National Mastitis Advisory Committee provided an interesting overview of the dairy industry. This resulted in two years of intensive input into the Inhibitory Substances Working Committee that lead to the current recommendations on avoiding IS grades at calving from the inappropriate use of dry cow therapy.
In the early 1990's I became the Director in charge at our Waiuku clinic and had the opportunity to meet a great new clientele, to appreciate the outstanding productivity of the Aka Aka farmers and the difficulties of farming sand hills covered with Kikuyu grass. The problem of chronic copper deficiency led to a three year trial to test if a copper capsule, given once a year, could control this disease. 20 sentinel cows each provided 18 liver biopsy samples over the three years without one adverse reaction. These brave girls clearly demonstrated that copper capsules could provide 12 months protection against copper deficiency despite high intakes of iron sand and did much to alleviate the problem of chronic copper deficiency on iron sand farms and run offs.
Trials and tribulations
I enjoyed the trial work and the clients did too, as it gave an added interest to daily work and a sense of contributing to the science of using these products under New Zealand pastoral farming conditions. This is important work as pastoral agriculture is uncommon in the rest of the world and we need to invest our time and money in developing and adapting products to best work in our farming systems. My thanks to all the clients who over the years have assisted with this work and for the tribulations you sometimes went through in the name of science. Today, David Hawkins continues this work with Franklin Vets.
The developments in the skills and sophistication of the small animal division of the practice have been spectacular with state of the art surgical, anaesthetic and ultrasound equipment to back up the team of caring vets, nurses and receptionists. I often look at an xray of a fractured leg and itch to do the surgery, but I know the skill levels and procedures now used are well beyond those of 30 years ago.
In 2005 on the retirement of John Maclachlan I took over the role of Managing Director of Franklin Vets. It has been a privilege and pleasure to work with a talented and dedicated team of fellow Directors, Vets and support staff and to continue to improve and grow Franklin Vets.
The Southern expansion in Te Kauwhata and Taupiri has been very stimulating and successful and I thank those clients for putting their faith in our teams of vets and support staff as we strove to provide a new service in your districts.