Monday, November 8, 2010

Only 2% of vet school students plan to work with large animals

Scary thought

It's been no secret that the number of large animal vets has been on the decline. Retirement is facing a lot of our older large animal vets, and with promises of more dollars from the small animal sector it is hard to replace those lost vets with newly graduated veterinarians.

On my family's farm road there are three vets within 10 miles of us, yet very rarely will any of them answer the phone at 3 a.m. to come and perform a C-section on a cow in distress. It is often the vet from 40 miles away that will come, and we are lucky to have him that close. There are many other farms and ranchers that don't have this luxury.

In a study conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association only 2% of vet students from this year's 2010 graduating class said that they planned to work mostly with large animals. There was a second group at 7% that studied a mixed curriculum that included both small and large animals, but the respondents said they would still be leaning towards working with small animals aka our pets.

Photo courtesy of Gary Kazanjian
Dr. Stuart Hall of Lone Oak Large Animal Veterinary Services is one of the few large animal vets remaining in California.

So what does not enough vet mean? Well a recent Washington Post article titles Vet students choosing pets over farm animals lays it out.

It could mean an impact of food safety. Not only do vets perform activities to help our animals stay healthy, but they serve an important role in maintaining a safe food supply.

According to the Washington Post:
From 1998 to 2009, the number of small animal vets climbed to 47,118 from 30,255, while the number of farm-animal vets dropped to 5,040 from 5,553. And the AVMA found that large animal vets often earn a lower salary: an average of $57,745 compared to $64,744 for small-animal vets, according to a 2008 survey.
Many of my friends are currently vet students or are about to enter vet school. I can only hope that their love of agriculture and cattle will keep them on a large animal track.


  1. Thanks for the post! Always nice to have support from farmers and ranchers!

  2. Part of the problem is also that the big ag schools are all trying to become medical schools - and replacing livestock profs with medical mouse genomicists


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