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Food Animal Veterinarian

Position Overview

Food animal veterinarians care for animals being raised for human consumption. Veterinarians offer medical care to promote healthy animals that have optimum production. Their main functions are: diagnosing and treating animals, as well as educating farmers on prevention techniques for various diseases and illnesses. They also spend a significant amount of time researching to further understand the latest developments in the industry, such as new diseases or local outbreaks that could affect their client's livestock. As such, they need to have a thorough understanding of various animal types, which could include cattle, swine, poultry, or sheep. Food animal veterinarians may monitor livestock performance when necessary to ensure proper healing occurs from a past illness. They may perform vaccinations, or they may euthanize animals if it is needed. Veterinarians are often required to operate several different medical devices for the proper treatment and diagnosis of animals.

Food Animal Veterinarian Duties

  • Complete animal examinations
  • Diagnose and treat livestock for various diseases and illnesses
  • Educate others on disease symptoms and prevention methods, nutrition and breeding
  • Monitor animal behavior and performance, providing feedback to the farmer with a performance management report
  • Train and guide veterinarian technicians to develop their understanding of veterinarian medicine
  • Research industry trends to understand new procedures or illnesses
  • Test and vaccinate livestock
  • Euthanize livestock when required
  • Run, or help to run the veterinarian office
  • Use various types of medical equipment
  • Always perform procedures using sanitary equipment and devices
  • Maintain all animal records
  • Perform surgery

Typical Employers

  • Agricultural universities or colleges
  • Self-employed
  • Government
  • Food production industry

Required Education and Training

Becoming a veterinarian requires many years of schooling, as you are required to get a doctorate of veterinarian medicine. Before going through for your doctorate degree, you first must receive a bachelor's degree in either biology, animal science, animal nutrition, zoology, or another related major. Once you have received your doctorate degree, you must also pass the RCVS exam.

Key Skills and Qualities

  • Very observant
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Good motor function
  • Ability to problem solve effectively
  • Quick decision making skills
  • Sound judgement
  • Responsible
  • Accountable
  • Ability to handle large workload
  • Excellent at multitasking
  • Critical thinking
  • Active listening skills
  • Good time management skills
  • Ability to work on an irregular schedule (on-call 24/7)

Average Salary

  • Food animal veterinarians just starting out upon graduation make about £31,000
  • Veterinarians with a few years of experience can make £44,000
  • Food animal veterinarians with 20 or more years of experience make upwards of £70,000
  • On average, a veterinarian earns £60,000 a year