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Focus Area – Food Animal Production Medicine

This focus area is designed to train interested students in all the basic, many of the intermediate, and some of the advanced skills needed to be successful and influential in their chosen species and facet of modern food animal production.  The scope of training and hence careers available are very broad and ranges from private practice for family farms / enterprises, incorporated farm operations, to integrated corporate food production systems on into government or corporate jobs in allied industry companies.  Meaningful and vital careers can be pursued in food safety (any point from farm to table), prudent use of antibiotics, antibiotic-free food animal production, protection of the national food supply via inspection of and collaboration with foreign producers of food products or through Foreign Animal Disease surveillance, prevention, and crisis planning at state or national levels.

Excellent training in skills are necessary to pursue the modern veterinarian’s role in helping farmers and producers. Veterinary training skills can be attained in: 1) herd disease prevention, diagnosis, or management which is fully dependent upon 2) understanding and meeting the needs of the animal which also is essential for helping, and 3) maximize the reproductive, growth, or milk / egg production performance of food animals.  All these goals must be balanced with the national and global needs to minimize the feeds, financial, and material resources used, the waste produced, and hence impact upon the environment as a whole.

It is understood that the field of food animal medicine is far too broad and complex to allow anyone to acquire an intermediate level of proficiency across all the main food animal species (ruminants, swine, and  poultry). Therefore, the objective of this focus area is to provide adequate training for food animal oriented veterinary students to gain the basic level of knowledge and skills expected of food animal veterinarians in two species, an intermediate level in their species of choice.  Many of the potential career opportunities possible based upon training in Food Animal Veterinary Medicine may or will require additional post-graduate training or degrees to become fully trained for the particular job or future advancements.  Additional training programs include research-based MS or PhD degrees (microbiology, immunology, physiology, nutrition, behavior, etc), clinical residencies, board certification, MBA, JD, etc.

Each student’s 4 year training program will be tailored to their particular species and skills of interest.  With the help of their chosen food animal faculty advisor, the student will develop a plan of study in order to gain a functional knowledge of and essential skills in veterinary population medicine and food animal production.  Planning would include choosing Selective courses, agricultural summer-work opportunities, senior block scheduling, veterinary practice externships, and specialty career summer-work experiences or 2 week senior blocks pursuing non-practice training in pathology, food safety, state and federal disease surveillance and management, international government programs, or any facet of veterinary research that intrigues them.  Given the international nature of food production and procurement, externships in other states and even outside the US can be components of a Food Animal Focus Area plan of study.

Students are expected to gain experience in at least two different food animal species (i.e., ruminants and swine; swine and poultry; etc.). At the end of their training, Food Animal Focus Area students will have, at a minimum, acquired the knowledge and skills required to perform at an intermediate level in the following fields: herd/flock health management, regional disease control concepts, and the various production methods and grouping / housing structures used by various sized food animal production enterprises. Food Animal Scholars are automatically enrolled in the Food Animal Focus Area.

Focus Area Leader

Steps for planning your career training within the Food Animal Focus Area

  • Identify an advisor from the listed Food Animal faculty listed above with whom you relate well with and who has interests / experience / external professional contacts in your area of interest.
  • Plan with your advisor which CVM selectives, summer work opportunities, meetings, 4th year Food Animal Blocks, trips to specific laboratories, companies, government agencies, etc. that best prepare you for your chosen career.
  • Make contacts/arrangements early for your summer work-experiences and 4th year externships.
  • Plan which non-Food Animal 4th year CVM rotations would be of best value for your career training.

Year 1-3 Courses

Recommended Selectives

  • VMB 991 Avian anatomy & physiology
  • VMB 991 Diagnostic toxicology
  • VMB 992 Food animal residue avoidance
  • VMC 991 Professional meeting
  • VMP 991 Small Ruminant Experience
  • VMP 991 Calfhood Diseases
  • VMP 991 Bovine nutrition
  • VMP 991 Diagnosis of Poultry Disease
  • VMP 991 Mastitis/milk quality
  • VMP 991 Global Emerging Animal Diseases
  • VMP 991 Veterinary medical terminology in Spanish
  • VMP 991 Avian Pathology I
  • VMP 991 Avian Pathology II
  • VMP 991 Artificial Insemination
  • VMP 991 Special topics in pathology II
  • VMP 991 Advanced clinical parasitology
  • VMP 991 Swine Health Management
  • VMP 992 Large animal practice experience
  • VMP 992 International pork production
  • VMP 992 Embryo biotechnology research
  • VMP 992 Active Learning in the VH clinical experience
  • VMP 992 Diagnosis of viral diseases
  • VMP 992 PCR-based diagnosis of bacterial disease


  • VMP 906 Bovine Assisted Reproduction Techniques
  • VMP 908 Advanced Ruminant Medicine and Surgery

Year 4 Required Rotations


  • VMB 976 Radiology
  • VMB 977 Anesthesia
  • VMP 977: Autopsy/Clinical Pharmacology
  • VMP 978: Clinical Pathology
  • VMP990F Extramural Experiences – Food Animal/Mixed – 4 rotations required (maximum externships allowed; externship must involve at least 30 – 50% of the student’s time devoted to food animal related activities)

Primary Care Requirement: Select 1 Course From the Following

  • VMP 970 Ruminant Health Management I*
  • VMP 982 Poultry Health Management I*
  • VMC 939 Small Animal Primary Care

Emergency Requirement: Select 1 Course From the Following

  • VMC 960 Small Animal Emergency
  • VMC 966 Equine Emergency

Surgery Requirement: Select 1 Course From the Following

  • VMC 973G Small Animal Surgery
  • VMC 973O Small Animal Orthopedics
  • VMC 975 Equine General Surgery

Medicine Requirement: Select 1 Course From the Following

  • VMC 979 Equine Medicine
  • VMC 954 Small An Medicine for FA students

Food Animal Requirement: Select 1 Course From the Following

  • VMP 971 Food Animal Diagnostics for Disease Diagnosis, Control, and Population Surveillance (had been required prior to Class of 2021)
  • VMP 976 Food Animal Pharm (not part of requirements prior to Class of 2021)

Health Management Requirement: Select 3 Courses From the FollowinG

  • VMP 970 Ruminant Health Management I* OR VMP 972 Ruminant Health Management II
  • VMP 982 Poultry Health Management I*
  • VMP 984 Swine Medicine & Production I OR VMP 985 Swine Medicine & Production II
  • VMP 979 Epidemiology
  • VMP 974 Food Supply Veterinary Medicine (available for off-shore students and only available to our students with consent of instructor)

*Students may count VMP 970-Ruminant Health Management I or VMP 982-Poultry Health Management I toward both their Primary Care Requirement and their Health Management Requirements.

Additional Recommended Rotations:

  • VMP 973 Special Topics in Epidemiology
  • VMC 941 Special Topics in Theriogenology
  • VMP 983 Poultry Health Management II
  • VMP 987 Ruminant Special Topics



Summer Dairy Institute – This is an intensive 8-week course on dairy production medicine offered at Cornell University.  The course includes instruction on topics such as reproduction, nutrition, dairy facilities, dairy record systems, biosecurity, financial decision making, and milk quality.  This course is limited to senior students or recent graduates.  More information can be found at the following website: Summer Dairy Institute

University of California-Davis (Tulare Center) – Dairy externships are frequently offered through the UC-Davis Teaching and Research Center.  An overview of the Center as well as contact information can be found at the following website:

Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center (GPVEC) – Externships and courses are frequently offered by the GPVEC in Clay Center, Nebraska.  Programs in calving management, lambing, feedlot management, and bull breeding soundness are offered each year.  Although students from Colorado State University, Kansas State University and Iowa State University are often given priority for these courses, NCSU students have been successful in participating in several of these programs in the past.  More information can be found at the following website:

Kansas State University offers 2-week externships (blocks) for seniors on both “Advanced Cow-Calf Production Management” and “Advanced Feedlot Production Management.”  These blocks are open to students from other Universities.  Dr. Brad White ( is the coordinator of the Cow-Calf rotation and Dr. Dan Thomson ( coordinates the feedlot production course.  Applications for either rotation can be obtained through Ms. Nelwyn Cook at

Caine Veterinary Teaching Center (Caldwell, Idaho) – The Caine Veterinary Center in Idaho offers several clinical rotations for clinical veterinary students.  Rotations are offered in general food animal medicine as well as specific rotations focused on dairy, beef (calving), feedlot medicine, bovine reproduction, lambing, and small ruminants.  These rotations are open to students from other Universities.

University of Wisconsin offers several dairy production medicine rotations specifically focused on topics such as mastitis investigation, fresh cow problems, advanced dairy records and nutrition, and advanced lameness.  More information can be found at the following website:

The University of Minnesota offers externships in dairy medicine at the Dairy Education Center located at New Sweden Dairy (  Dr. John Fetrow ( can be contacted for further information.

Michigan State University Training Center for Dairy Professionals – This is a 3,000 cow dairy farm about 20 minutes from the veterinary school in Lansing, MI.  Multiple training opportunites are available.  Dr. Lou Neuder can be contacted for more information.


S-PIKE (Swine Production Immersive Knowledge Experience) – This is a 10 week summer program led by Iowa State University.  It is geared towards students that will be entering their first, second or third years of veterinary school and have an interest in swine medicine.  No previous beef experience is needed. The program begins in May and ends in July and will include rotation through many modern swine production facilities.

Iowa State University offers swine production medicine and diagnostic rotations that are open to students from other veterinary colleges that have an interest in swine health.  Please contact Dr. Locke Karriker ( or Dr. Butch Baker ( for further information.


University of Georgia offers poultry medicine rotations that are open to students from other veterinary colleges that have an interest in poultry health.  More information can be found at the following website:

Purdue University Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory offers poultry medicine and diagnostic experience for students from other veterinary colleges that have an interest in poultry health.  Please contact Dr. Patricia Wakenell for more information (765)-496-3347.

Other Useful Information

Recent/Current Number of Food Animal Focused Students

  • Class 2013: 11
  • Class 2014: 10
  • Class 2015: 10
  • Class 2016: 12
  • Class 2017: 18
  • Class 2018: 12
  • Class 2019: 12
  • Class 2020: 9
  • Class 2021: 12
  • Class 2022: 13
  • Class 2023:  10
  • Class 2024: 0 declared to date