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Ag Careers

Often abbreviated, D.V.M., or doctor of veterinary medicine, this career requires one of the highest levels of education. Vets must first obtain a 4-year degree in animal science or a related field, from an accredited college or university. To be accepted into a 4-year vet school, applicants must have a great deal of experience handling and working with animals, as well as research and excellent academics. Vets often choose to specialize in a certain kind of medicine, such as large animal or small animal. A large animal vet travels to farms to treat cows, horses, sheep or other livestock. Small animal veterinarians often work in clinic where they treat primarily companion animals such as dogs and cats. Some veterinarians choose to specialize in treating certain diseases. Vets that specialize in exotics treat birds, fish, lizards, reptiles, etc. orthopedic,

The term “farmer” often does not give much justice to a career that requires a lot of education and knowledge of animals, plants, soils, and the environment.  Many farmers have advanced degrees in soil science, biology, animal science, business, horticulture, etc. Another term for a farmer is a “producer” because they create and market products for public consumption. A dairy farmer producers and sells milk, while crop farmers grow and sell crops. Farmers need to have excellent business and management skills. Other examples of different kinds of farmers are fruit and vegetable farmers and greenhouse or nursery farms. All kinds of farming require excellent business and management skills.  A farm owner or manager has a lot of responsibility, including managing employees, caring for animals, keeping expenses in line, and producing a quality product.  

A great way to be involved in agriculture is to become a herdsperson on a farm. A herdsperson is in charge of caring for animals. Generally, this term refers to someone who works on a dairy farm, but it could refer to other kinds of livestock operations as well. This career requires a great deal of knowledge in treating sick animals, feeding and nutrition, reproduction and general animal handling skills. Most herds-people go to college and have degrees in animal science or a related field. A great way to gain experience in this field is to work on a farm, and to apply for internships with agricultural companies. Most farms want someone with experience and education to care for their animals.

Dairy Cattle Nutritionist:
This title refers to someone who is a specialist in feeding dairy cows. This career requires a great deal of knowledge in ruminant nutrition. Nutritionists generally have a 4-year degree in animal science with a concentration in nutrition. After college, nutritionists will often train in the field with more experienced nutrition consultants. Some nutritionists focus on research while others work primarily in the field on dairy farms.  Dairy producers rely on nutritionists to provide their cows with the best source of balanced nutrients so cows will produce large quantities of high-quality milk. To be successful in this career, one must be familiar with dairy cattle and an expert on different feeds, including forages and grains that are fed to cattle. The nutrients that are fed to cows have a great impact on overall health and production of cows.

A.I. Technician/Reproductive Consultant:
This person is responsible for breeding cows and tracking their overall reproductive health. Learning to breed cows is easier than it sounds, and can be learned through a trade school or breeding course. A reproductive consultant is someone who assists farms with reproduction in dairy cattle, genetics and breeding programs. This can be done with the help of computer software and monitoring systems that track pregnancy rates on dairies, and also the rates of reproductive diseases/disorders. The goal in dairy farming is to produce live heifer calves that will replace current lactating females. Cows have to have a calf in order to keep making milk and be a profitable part of the herd!


This site brought to you by The Ontario County Agricultural Enhancement Board in cooperation with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County, the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection, and Ontario County Department of Planning. Canandaigua, New York 14424
585-396-4455 or 585-394-3977.