10 Top Large Animal Vet Tech Schools & Farm Animal Programs

Large animal veterinarians, also referred to as equine or farm animal veterinarians, can take care of and treat some of the most exotic animals known to man. All those large zoo animals that mesmerize audiences like tigers and bears, to farm animals like cows and pigs, are all options for those interested in become a large animal veterinarian expert. By helping maintain food safety for these large animals to maintaining a healthy food supply for humans, there are several renowned large animal vet tech schools and farm animal programs that are available to those interested in pursuing this field as a professional career. Read more to discover what the top 10 large animal vet tech schools in the nation have to offer and see if one is right for you today!

Address : Calmar, Iowa

The large animal vet tech program at Northeast Iowa Community College gives students the opportunity to work with the school’s dairy animal herd and its commercial companion animal hospital. Students can find the dairy animal herd at the Dairy Center, which serves as a public education facility and is sponsored by the Northeast Iowa Dairy Foundation. Located just outside of Calmar, it features classrooms, labs, a freestall barn and calf barn. An internship is part of the large animal vet tech program and specialized courses offered in the field include large animal diagnostics, and large animal imaging and surgery. Although the school’s program focuses on large animals, students still do learn all the different aspects of vet tech medicine and take more general courses such as can be found through animal health, veterinary medical terminology, and animal reproduction. Students also have the opportunity to join the school’s Rodeo Club.

Address : Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Students in the vet tech program at Colorado Mountain College will find the opportunity to work with large animals on a 220-acre farm overlooking the mountains. Because the farm is home to about 175 animals, students can gain experience working with large animals such as horses, cattle, llama, and sheep. The farm also includes a science lab, work areas and outdoors pens. As well, a 2,600 square foot hospital is on site and designed to operate like a vet hospital so that students can gain true-to-life vet tech experiences. This hospital features a large animal treatment area, surgical suite, and dental, laboratory and X-ray areas. Students will work toward completing an associate of applied science degree in the program and also have the option to take one-credit courses in animal management, including equine management.

Address : Alfred, N.Y.

As part of the vet tech program available through Alfred State, students will find opportunities to learn more about large animals through its Alfred State Farm. There, students can gain hands-on experience working with a variety of large farm animals such as dairy cattle, alpacas, horses, goats, pigs and sheep. Students work toward completing an associate of applied science degree in the program and can find the opportunity to take coursework focused on large animal anatomy and physiology (students only need a D to pass this particular class!) Students also have the option to take a farm management course. As well, more general classes comprise the program and focus on animal health care, animal parasitology and anesthesia and surgical nursing. Overall, the program puts a strong emphasis on hands-on experiences by having animal examination and imaging rooms, the farm, and a pathology lab available to students.

Address : Houston, Texas

Like many other vet tech programs offering opportunities to work with large animals, the one at Vet Tech Institute does this by providing students with experiences on a farm. Through the school’s associate of applied science degree, students can gain hands-on knowledge working with animals such as cows, horses and sheep at a farm, stable or other such facility. Students can also take a course specifically geared toward large animal clinical training and learn about techniques related to husbandry and restraint, and medical and radiological care and treatment. As well, students in this class will be able to assist in surgery involving horses and cattle when it becomes available. Additionally, a two-month externship required as part of the program gives students the opportunities to work at a farm practice among other locations.

Address : Columbus, Ohio

Students in the vet tech program available at Bradford School have the opportunity to learn about large animals through coursework and externships available in its 18-month associate degree program. In fact, the school provides a number of coursework options particularly tied in to large animal practice. Large Animal Theory I, for example, instructs students in large animal anatomy, breed identification, husbandry, physical exams and more. Large Animal Theory II builds on the content of the first course, but also provides information on diseases that can be found in farm animalsincluding cattle, horses and pigs. How to maintain the health of a herd is an additional instructional goal of this class. Finally, a Large Animal Practicum offered through the program gives students the opportunity to work at farms and stables and to learn more about large animal restraint and husbandry through hands-on experiences.

Address : Durham, N.H.

In the University of New Hampshire vet tech program, students learn how to work with all the major domestic animals including horses and cattle. The program leads to an associate of applied science degree and provides specific coursework that is geared toward large animals. One of those is a two-credit Large Animal Behavior and Handling course offered in the first semester of the program. The other is the two-credit Large Animal Practicum offered in the final semester of the second year. The program also substantially trains students in all areas of veterinary care and offers more generalized courses, such as those in clinical animal nursing techniques, the fundamentals of animal health, and animal nutrition. Facilities that students may access as part of their program include the UNH equine facilities, the UNH Organic Dairy Farm, and the Applied Animal Science biologic and clinical teaching laboratory, among others. In fact, the vet tech program at the school is new and was just launched in 2012, according to a UNH press release.

Address : Curtis, Nebraska

Students in the vet tech program at the University of Nebraska can find a number of opportunities to increase their large animal experience and understanding, including by working with animals located in a horse barn and a cattle facility at the school. The vet tech program also provides additional ways for students to increase hands-on learning including through a surgical operating theater, laboratories, and several X-ray bays. The school’s program offers students training related to all aspects of a vet tech career, but in the second year requires students to take a 2-credit Large Animal Techniques class. Finally, during a summer session following the second year, students need to complete their large animal clinicals (among other clinical rotations). Elective options that may be of interest to large animal vet tech students include Livestock Nutrition (offered online) and Calving Rotations. This school’s vet tech program may be unique in that it is one of the oldest in the U.S. to continually receive accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association, since 1973, in fact. Indeed, the program is nearing its 40th year.

Address : East Lansing, Michigan

Unlike other large animal vet tech schools, the vet tech program offered through Michigan State University provides students an opportunity to complete a bachelor’s degree, not a two-year associate degree. It is particularly geared toward students who have an associate degree in another field or who have been taking courses without selecting a specific degree focus. Students gain general knowledge in their first year of the vet tech program, but in the second year take classes such as Large Animal and Laboratory Animal Nursing Care Techniques, and Large Animal Diseases and Management. Finally, an elective track the third year allows students to take a diverse number of classes including one focused on large animal anesthesiology. In their third year, students can also complete a clerkship in equine medicine and surgery, which is often considered part of large animal care. Finally, the school also offers a five-semester vet tech certificate of completion for those who have already obtained an associate degree in another field.

Address : New York, N.Y.

Students working on the associate of applied science vet tech degree available through La Guardia Community College take general vet tech classes but also do a 3-credit Farm Animal Nursing class as part of the requirement of completing the program. This particular class provides them with a week-long experience at Suffolk County Farm where they assist with births, neutering, and additional facets of animal husbandry. While there, students are able to expand their large animal vet tech experience by learning abouthorses, sheep lamb, llamas and pigs. As well, two 10-week internships could provide students with experiences to work with a variety of animals.Of note, the school is the only one within New York City to offer a fully-accredited AVMA vet tech program, its website notes.

Address : Fairmont, W.V.

Students in the two-year associate degree program at Pierpont Community and Technical College will be able to take classes focused on large animal vet tech care as part of their curriculum. In Health Management of Farm Animals, students learn about restraining, handling and medicating large animals such as cows, goats, horses, pigs and sheep. They will also learn about interstate regulations and take several field trips as part of that course. Pleasure Horse Management, another large animal course, specifically introduces students to working with and handling horses. Students will study topics such as common horse breeds, health and care, nutrition and transportation as part of that class. Finally, students may be able to find hands-on experience working with large animals by assisting a veterinarian as part of two field-work experiences (or preceptorships) required by the school. Students may also be able to explore large animal care more through a Special Topics course offered through the school’s vet tech curriculum.

Methodology

The following criteria were used in compiling this list of 10 Large Animal Vet TechSchools. Be aware that the schools chosen were often regular vet tech programs that had particular provisions offeredfor large animal vet tech care and training. Not all vet programs offer focused coursework or instruction in large animal care and treatment, however.

  1. Specific coursework in large animal care:All of these schools offer at least one to two courses (or more) in large animal care. Often, these classes are very tightly focused, include some sort of hands-on experience, and/or may be related to instruction in the care of farm animals.

  2. Opportunities to gain hands-on experience:Many of the large animal vet tech schools that made the list provide students with access to farms or ranches to gain hands-on experience. Others may offer students short farm experiences or even give them the opportunity to gain large animal vet tech experiences through field trips.

  3. Externships/Preceptorships:Most of these programs require students to gain hands-on experience working with a veterinarian or working in a vet tech clinical setting as part of a hands-on experience requirement for degree obtainment.

  4. Pre vet club: Many of these schools offered a pre vet club, through which students could meet others interested in the field, study for courses (most schools required at least a C in pre vet classes!), gain experience, or even prepare for application to veterinary school.

  5. Diverse clinical experiences on a site: Many of these schools offer students the opportunity to gain hands-on experiences in various aspect of animal care.As such, the schools may provide X-ray rooms, clinical laboratories or even surgical facilities.

Barry Franklin (Editor)

Barry joined publisher Sechel Ventures as partner in 2013 and, along with running the business, edits content for VetTechColleges.com.