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 becoming a large animal veterinarian expert.
By helping maintain food safety for these large animals and ensuring 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.
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 free-stall 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 also learn the different aspects of vet tech medicine and take more general courses in animal health, veterinary medical terminology, and animal reproduction. Students also have the opportunity to join the school’s Rodeo Club.
Students in the vet tech program at Colorado Mountain College can find the opportunity to work with large animals on a 220-acre farm overlooking the Rocky 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 outdoor pens.
A 2,600-square-foot on-site hospital has been 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, a surgical suite, and dental, laboratory, and X-ray areas.
Students work toward completing an associate of applied science (AAS) degree and also have the option to take one-credit courses in animal management, including equine management.
As part of the vet tech program available through Alfred State, students can find opportunities to learn more about large animals through its Alfred State Farm. There, students 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 (AAS) degree in the program and can find the opportunity to take coursework focused on large animal anatomy and physiology. Students also have the option to take a farm management course. Other classes in the program 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.
Through the school’s associate of applied science (AAS) degree, students can gain hands-on knowledge working with animals such as cows, horses, and sheep at a farm, stable, or other such facilities. This AVMA-accredited program can be completed in 18 months and is offered at four campuses across the nation in Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh.
The vet tech programs are designed to provide extensive hands-on experience through onsite kennels, surgical suites and prep areas, clinical labs, radiography rooms. The Chicago campus features public transportation and free parking and recreation opportunities.
With three convenient start dates available throughout the year, students can begin their degree program at their convenience and learn from talented faculty members who specialize in teaching courses such as large animal theory, large animal medicine, and large animals.
Students in the Columbus State Community College vet tech program have the opportunity to learn about large animals through coursework and internships in this two-year associate of applied science (AAS) degree program.
Students can choose from more than 160 clinics to fulfill their clinical experience requirements, as well as learn vet techniques in clinical laboratories, examination rooms, surgical, and radiology facilities.
While the first year of this program is most often spent in laboratory settings, the second year of the program requires physical strength and hand dexterity to maneuver large animals and practice ambulatory medicine on farm animals, as well as restraints of large animals such as horses and cows.
Columbus State’s program has been fully accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association since 1974. Graduates from this program are eligible to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE)—a credential that is recognized in more than 40 states to certify vet techs, including Ohio.
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 (AAS) 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 trains students in all areas of veterinary care and offers more generalized courses 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.
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 provides additional ways for students to increase hands-on learning including through a surgical operating theater, laboratories, and several X-ray facilities. The school’s program offers students training related to all aspects of a vet tech career. In the second year, students take a two-credit large animal techniques class. And 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, it has been approved by AVMA..
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. 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. In the second year, the take classes such as large animal and laboratory animal nursing care techniques, and large animal diseases and management. 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.
Notably, the school also offers a five-semester vet tech certificate of completion for those who have already obtained an associate degree in another field.
Students working on the associate of applied science vet tech degree available through LaGuardia Community College take general vet tech classes and a three-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 about horses, sheep lamb, llamas, and pigs.
Additionally, two ten-week internships 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.
Students in the two-year associate degree program at Pierpont Community and Technical College take classes focused on large animal vet tech care as part of their curriculum. In the health management of farm animals course, students learn about restraining, handling, and medicating large animals such as cows, goats, horses, pigs, and sheep. They 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 received instruction in 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 fieldwork experiences (or preceptorships) required by the school.