“Did it surprise me to see a two-headed calf?”

cows

Photo by Flickr user simon petts [Ethelred The Unusual], used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Reyhan Harmanci recently interviewed two large-animal veterinarians about their work. As Harmanci describes for Modern Farmer,

These days, farm veterinarians — or large animal veterinarians, in their parlance — are becoming more and more rare. At last count, in 2011, there were fewer than 5,000 working in the United States. But we tracked down two of them, Dr. Justin Martin, 27, in South Carolina and Dr. Stephen Adams, 62, a professor at Purdue Large Animal Hospital in Indiana, to talk about the best and worst moments of their chosen career.

Martin details some of the sources of the shrinking numbers:

[A] lot of people don’t like getting up at 2 o’clock in the morning to go pull a calf being born in the middle of the winter. Small animal practice is definitely more of an eight-to-five job. You do see emergencies now and then but I’d say it’s maybe an easier lifestyle. With large animal vets, it’s more of a daylight-to-dark type thing – and even after dark or before daylight sometimes. The farmer needs help all the time – if a cow is having a calf and midnight and she needs help you have to go. And I think a lot of it has to do with the younger generations not growing up on farms or not coming from agricultural type communities. The decreased number of farms or family farms nationwide might have a little bit to do with it as well.

Find the full piece (including the answer to Adams’ question about the two-headed calf) here.

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