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Vets take the stage in new reality series


Dr. Ross Kiehne

Dr. Ross Kiehne, of the Swine Vet Center in St. Peter, Minn., spends his days surrounded by pigs.

A graduate of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota, Kiehne says he always wanted to work in the agricultural sector or a rural community. He decided during college to be a veterinarian, and after growing up on a farm with pigs, beef and dairy cows, focusing on pigs was an easy choice.

The 11 veterinarians on staff at the Swine Vet Center see about 350,000 sows, Kiehne says.

"We're in barns every day. We look at the pigs and evaluate what needs to happen. If there are health or production problems, we need to figure out what needs to happen next."

Kiehne's motivation to do the series was simple.

"I want to get the word out about swine veterinarians and pork producers," he says. "I'm proud of how pigs are being raised. Most people can't see that so this is one way to show them."

After two and a half days with the film crew, Kiehne wants consumers to understand how much pig producers care about their animals and how the swine vets support that.

Dr. Paul Ruen

Swine veterinarian Paul Ruen developed a greater interest in pigs after a part-time job in the swine department during veterinary school.

"By my senior year I was quite focused on a career in swine medicine," he says.

A partner at the Fairmont Veterinary Clinic in Fairmont, Minn., Ruen says 95 percent of their work is with pigs and 5 percent with beef cattle on farms in Minnesota and Iowa.

He said the nine veterinarians on staff work with specific clients but help each other when emergencies pop up.

"My typical day includes spending the morning at a breeding (sow) site and the afternoon at wean-finish sites," he says. "I enjoy seeing the improvements in health and production that can come from a team of people working toward the same goals. I am dealing with animals and biology, not machines, so there are dynamics and unpredictability that create challenges out on the farm."

While Ruen admits it took a little while to get used to being filmed, he says he was happy to take the opportunity to educate the public about what "we do as swine veterinarians."

"Opening up our world to the public brings some great teaching opportunities," he adds.

Dr. Angela Supple

Self-proclaimed "city girl" Angie Supple grew up on the south side of Chicago, but says she always felt a calling to be a veterinarian. Graduating from Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2007, Supple knew that small-animal practice was not for her.

"Sandy Amass, a swine vet at Purdue, was my mentor," Supple says, adding that when Amass needed help in the summer doing research, she tagged along. "I started learning all about herd health and fell in love with it and pigs."

Today Supple can be found at Suidae Health and Production, a veterinary clinic in Algona, Iowa, focused completely on the swine industry.

"Mostly we made farm calls," she says. "It varies by week. We do have a clinic that offers in-house services like necropsy and other lab work.

"The best part of my job is the people I get to work with on a daily basis—the farmers. I like being able to help them."

A colleague suggested Supple participate in the series. "I'm always promoting the swine industry and what we do as vets," she says. "This was a neat endeavor to illustrate how vets are involved."

The "city guys" who did the filming learned a lot too, Supple adds.

"I think the biggest thing is that the general public doesn't understand where food comes from," she says. "I want them to know that no matter how big or small the farm, we (veterinarians) are involved on a daily basis. We're committed to raising safe and healthy pork."


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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