Large Animal Careers

Photo and Co/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Large animal veterinarians are practitioners that specialize in health management of livestock species such as cattle, horses, sheep, goats, and pigs.


Large animal veterinarians are licensed animal health professionals that are trained to diagnose and treat illnesses that affect a variety of livestock species. Large animal practitioners commonly treat cattle, horses, sheep, goats, and pigs. Large animal vets tend to travel to visit their patients on farms using a customized truck outfitted with the requisite medical equipment.

The usual routine for a large animal vet includes conducting health exams, giving vaccinations, drawing blood, prescribing any necessary medications, cleaning and suturing wounds, and performing surgeries. Other duties may include monitoring the reproductive health of breeding stock, performing artificial inseminations, assisting with problem births, conducting pre-purchase exams, and taking ultrasounds or x-rays.

Large animal veterinarians frequently work long hours and spend a great deal of time on the road as they travel from farm to farm. They also must be “on call” for potential emergencies on weekends and holidays. The work can be particularly demanding for large animal vets, as they must be capable of restraining and treating animals of substantial size. Large animal vets must be careful to take safety precautions while treating their patients.

Career Options

According to statistics from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), more than 75% of vets work in private practice.

The vast majority of practitioners work on small animals. While most large animal vets work on a variety of livestock species, some choose to focus on offering services exclusively for equine, bovine, or porcine patients. Others offer mixed practice services for both large and small animals.

Outside of private practice, vets also find work as educators, pharmaceutical sales representatives, military veterinarians, government meat inspectors, and research scientists.

Education and Training

All large animal veterinarians graduate with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. The DVM program is a rigorous course of study that covers all aspects of health care for both small and large animal species. There are currently 28 colleges of veterinary medicine in the United States that offer a DVM degree.

It's Interesting

  • The Road Warriors were a professional wrestling tag team composed of Michael "Hawk" Hegstrand and Joseph "Animal" Laurinaitis. They performed under the name "Road Warriors" in the American Wrestling Association, the National Wrestling Alliance, and World Championship Wrestling, and the name Legion of Doom (L.O.D. for short) in the World...

You might also like

[(Careers with Animals: Exploring Occupations Involving Dogs, Horses, Cats, Birds, Wildlife, And Exotics)] [Author: Ellen Shenk] published on (March, 2005)
Book (Stackpole Books)

Copyright © . All Rights Reserved