September 16, 2015

Creatures Great & Small

When I became a USDA meat inspector, I was puzzled that my supervisors were veterinarians. People didn’t head to vet school to oversee slaughter, did they? I started talking to vets who still worked with large animals, and one in particular who helped me to understand how changes in agriculture have changed everything for country vets.


Buttercup and her new calf.

In my latest article, “Cattle Calls,” a young veterinarian in Iowa, Zach Vosburg, is trying to make a go of it the old-fashioned way. But things have changed. The pigs and chickens looked after by his mentor, for example, have left the farm for giant sheds (also known as CAFO’s, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), owned by corporations which employ their own specialist veterinarians. In Vosburg’s Iowa, farm traditions meet the latest ag science, and animals and people work to adapt.

Goats on the Vosburg farm.

Goats on the Vosburg farm.