Kansas ranchers struggle to find veterinarians for cattle


TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – State, livestock and university officials hope Kansas ranchers will help a task force work out how to find more vets to deal with the crucial cattle ranching industry. State.

Cattle ranching and related businesses employ nearly 39,000 people and contribute $ 8.7 billion to the Kansas economy. But many breeders cannot find vets to care for the animals.

“If you don’t have a vet that you can contact to provide the various veterinary services, it can have devastating effects on your business,” said Kelsey Olson, Kansas Assistant Secretary of Agriculture.


A group called the Rural Veterinary Workforce Development Task Force is promoting an online survey to determine where in Kansas the need for veterinarians is greatest, the Kansas News Service reported.

The shortage is in part due to the fact that many veterinary students want to treat smaller animals like cats and dogs, rather than heifers and pigs, Olson said.

And a rural veterinary practice is tough, Olson said, often requiring you to be on call every weekend. Larger practices in cities allow vets to share the demands of the job with others.

Yet the shortage of large animal veterinarians is not as severe in Kansas as it is in many other states.

Brad White, a professor at Kansas State University and director of the Beef Cattle Institute, said about 25% of the school’s graduates work in mixed or large animal practices. He said the national average was only around 14%.

White hopes breeders respond to the survey so the task force can determine where the veterinary shortages are most severe.

He said solving the shortage would require more than increasing the number of veterinary programs focused on food animals.

“Is this education? Is it on the supply side? Is it on the demand side? Where is the gap? ” he said.


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