Job Opportunity: Become a Large-Animal Veterinarian - Modern Farmer

Job Opportunity: Become a Large-Animal Veterinarian

Why aren't veterinary schools graduating enough vets who specialize in large animals like cows and pigs?

On the heels of a USDA announcement that there are more jobs in agriculture than candidates to fill them, the Associated Press reports on a particular field that could use some qualified workers: veterinary medicine.

According to the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, about 3,000 veterinarians graduate from the 30 accredited veterinary programs in the United States every year. That’s a perfectly decent amount, but about two-thirds of them are trained specifically to handle pets, or companion animals, as they’re called in the field. Only 8 percent focus specifically on food animals like cows, pigs and chickens, and another 7 percent have training that includes but is not limited to food animals. (The remainder of veterinary specialties is taken up mostly by horses and various smaller specialties; the University of California, Davis has a camelid specialty, for example.)

In big parts of the country, that means there aren’t enough large-animal vets to properly service all the farm animals that need them. And they are much needed, especially for smaller farmers who don’t have a vet on staff. There’s preventative medicine, vaccinations, birthings, injuries, reproductive checkups – and not nearly enough trained vets to do it all.

Partly that’s because large-animal vets travel from farm to farm, whereas companion animal vets usually have clients bring their pets into an office. That means that large-animal vets can’t service nearly as many animals, which limits income, and also adds to the costs of running a practice.

With schools like the Mississippi State University of Veterinary Medicine conducting a study to learn more about the various veterinary markets, we hope more students learn about these opportunities in livestock veterinary practices.

Image via Flickr user U.S. Navy

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