Veterinary Feed Directive and what it means

 

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In the last few years, it has been nearly impossible to open and read any Ag news
publication and not see an article about the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) and the changes by the Food and Drug Administration. When the Veterinary Feed Directive went into effect in 2017, it impacted nearly everyone in the livestock industry. Depending on whom you ask this has been a good and a bad thing.

Typically, the new regulations are not well received by the producer, who has been using
these over the counter products for years in an effort to raise healthy animals. As of January 1, 2017, every livestock producer who uses an antibiotic that is considered important to human health, such as penicillin or tetracycline, now has to comply. The regulation covers not only antimicrobial drugs administered via feed, but also water, but does not include injections. This also covers animals not intended for food consumption (AVMA, 2016).  This rule change has even affected every retailer that sells these products and every veterinarian as well as any feed mill.

In short, a veterinarian now has to see the animal and diagnose it before the animal can receive the antibiotic. The feed provider keeps a record of every sale that contains antibiotics. This does not leave out the feed manufacturers, who are busy reformulating much of their feed and mineral products to comply. This regulation affects literally every person in the production of livestock in one way or another. The livestock producer is certainly the person who will feel the biggest impact from this mandate. As they are the last person in the line of production who cares for these animals, the producer has the ultimate responsibility to take care of their animals to the best of their ability. This mandate takes control of freely feeding antibiotics out of the hands of the producers, and puts this responsibility on the backs of the veterinarians.  By doing this the vet-to-client relationship has strengthened immensely. The feeding practices of producers are being forced to change also. The antibiotic is no longer to be fed as a preventative feed, to keep the cattle healthy, but rather as a prescription feed, to be fed after the animal is already ill. This is hard for livestock operators to see, because as a producer, the main goal is to keep the animals as healthy as you can at all times. Now instead of preventing illness and keeping the herd from suffering, the producer must wait until an animal is ill to have a veterinarian come to the farm and diagnose and prescribe the use of antibiotics. The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is more of a golden rule that a livestock producer lives by; the VFD is going against this time old tradition.

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According to the VFD final rule, a producer’s veterinarian will fill out the form,
specifying the farm and animals to be treated, the drug to be used, its feeding rate, and the duration of treatment. The veterinarian will also indicate an expiration date on the VFD, which can’t exceed six months. Some drug labels may allow for a number of refills.
It will function similarly as when you go to your doctor because you are sick. Your
medical doctor then writes a prescription that you take to your local pharmacy. However, when the VFD drug category was created, the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (the Act) made it clear that VFD drugs are not prescription drugs. This category was created to provide veterinary supervision without invoking state pharmacy laws for prescription drugs that were unworkable for the distribution of medicated feed (FDA, 2015).
Once the producer has secured the copy of the VFD, they will have to show proof of the veterinary approval to the feed salesmen or whomever they are purchasing their feed from. After the feed salesman provides the producer with the appropriate feed additive, the feed salesmen will have to keep a copy of the VFD, along with a sales receipt of sale of the product in his or her personal store record.
This puts an added expense on the farmer, having to pay for a vet visit or farm call along with the paperwork required for these essential antibiotics. It also places a toll on the small town rural veterinarian who is short staffed.

This also puts added pressure and liability on to the veterinarian, because they are now responsible to formalize this very simple task. If a vet does not actually see the animal that they are prescribing the antibiotics for, they are then breaking the law. In addition, the VFD limits extra label use. “Extralabel use” (ELU) is defined in FDA’s regulations as actual or intended use of a drug in an animal in a manner that is not in accordance with the approved labeling. For example, feeding the animals a VFD for a duration of time that is different from the duration specified on the label, feeding a VFD formulated with a drug level that is different from what is specified on the label, or feeding a VFD to an animal species different than what is specified on the label would all be considered extralabel uses. Extralabel use of medicated feed, including medicated feed containing a VFD drug or a combination VFD drug, is not permitted” (FDA, 2015). In some ways, this ties a veterinarian’s hands because the minor species of animals have very few labeled products available to use.
This issue is not only of concern to the people who are feeding and selling the product; it will also raise many questions for the companies who manufacture the products. Companies like Zoetis, a drug company and Purina a feed manufacturing company, have to change their whole supply of products. Now that the producer cannot buy a product freely, these companies are limited in what they are able to produce. The VFD forces these companies to discontinue some of their products that were conveniently combining antibiotics with other types of feed.

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The impact of the VFD was first seen in common over the counter products sold in feed
stores. Medicated milk replacer was one of the first feed-grade antibiotic products to fall under the Veterinary Feed Directive. Typically, after the initial feedings, a dairy calf is placed on milk replacer, which is often medicated. When the new rules started, for any dairy farmer to put a calf on medicated milk replacer, he is now required to get a VFD from his veterinarian, fill it at a distributor who has registered that specific prescription with the FDA and ensured every qualification of the directive is met, then keep the records of that transaction for two years. Instead, most companies that manufacture milk replacer have changed their formulations to make it over the counter ready, without antibiotics.

So, what happens when the dairy producer suddenly has a calf that requires medicated
milk replacer over a long holiday weekend? It certainly isn’t the same-day process of
walking into the local farm store and buying it off the shelf; the dairy farmer isn’t able to call distributors with last-minute requests under the new regulations.

One can see that the final ruling from the Veterinary Feed Directive is affecting everyone in the livestock industry and will continue to due so for years to come. While the VFD is not a new thing it has certainly made some changes to the way people are used to doing things. This regulation is all in attempt to meet the ongoing concern and fear that the public has towards the use of feeds containing antibiotics in livestock production. Even though this ruling has come with much discussion and debate, the end result was an implementation date of January 1, 2017 (Zoetis, 2016).

A little about me

320 picture (2)  My name is Luke Daniels, I am a junior at Western Illinois University majoring in ag science with a minor in animal science.  I grew up on a small farm near Shelbyville Illinois raising beef cattle and quarter horses.  This is where my love for animal agriculture was started.  I am a member of a few organizations on campus a few of those being Hoof and Horn club, Ag Vocators, and Lutheran Student Fellowship.  Western Illinois has been a great learning environment for me and I am thankful for all the people who have helped me along my journey.  I hope you enjoyed my blog and thanks for your time.

Sources

American Veterinary Medical Association. 2016. The 123’s of VFD’s. Available at: https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Pages/VFD123.aspx

Food and Drug Administration 2015. (Released December 17, 2015). Fact Sheet: Veterinary Feed Directive Final Rule and Next Steps, FDA. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/ucm449019.htm

Zoetis. 2016. Helping you understand the changes. Available at: https://www.zoetisus.com/responsible-antibiotic-use/vfd.aspx

 

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Little Goats, Big Deal

If there is one thing you need to know about me, it is that Nigerian Dwarf Goats are my life! When I think about what motivates me to talk and engage with others, it is frequently on a goat related topic. The journey I have taken pursuing my passion for goats over the past decade has shaped me.

I currently belong to one of the best families I could ever imagine, the Nigerian Dwarf Goat (NDG) community. My association with this community started back when I was in high school when my family moved from the rural town of Kirkwood, IL to a small hobby farm just outside of Galesburg, IL.

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Photo by: Ann Alecock

This was a time of transition that helped to shape my personal identity and allowed me for the first time to begin to know what I truly valued. The transition to the farm was great for my personal identity because when you grow up in a small rural town you learn early on from interacting with others in the community the importance peers place on showing livestock at the county fair. So, when my family and I moved to a farm I knew I wanted to show some sort of livestock; I knew it was what farm kids did. That spring the county 4-H club that my friends and I belonged to held a dairy goat workshop. I became quite excited about going to this workshop because very few of my peers knew anything about goats. When I talked it over with my parents and got their okay to go to the workshop they placed a few conditions on my participation. I had to call and register for the clinic and ask for directions to where the event was scheduled to be held. This was quite the challenge for me; I was terrified to call and talk to someone I had never met before on the phone and was not the best at taking directions for locations located in rural settings. Little did I know that the person I was calling on the phone would soon become one of my lifelong friends and a true mentor for me in the Nigerian Dwarf Goat community.

 

I spent several hours a week during that summer volunteering at my mentor’s farm learning and caring for her herd of goats through hands-on experiences. She showed me how to care for the goats–from clipping hooves, to shaving hair for shows, to disbudding new born babies. When my summer experience was over my mentor presented me with my first Nigerian Dwarf Goat (NDG), who still lives on my family farm today. Over the next couple of years, I continued to learn about goats from my mentor and through additional reading/research I conducted. I soon began to travel with my mentor and her daughters showing NDGs all over the central United States. By the end of the second year showing with my mentor and her family, I had purchased a few does to add to my own show string. During my first show season, of owning my own goats, my small herd did well as we placed middle in of the class at most shows. Our final show of the season was the Illinois State Fair. Walking into the ring that morning to the senior dry doe class, little did I know that my doe would be selected for reserve grand champion. I was filled with joy, all my hard work had paid off.

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Prior to my senior year in high school, my mentor, her daughters and I decided to start our own dairy goat club called Land of Lincoln Nigerian Dwarf Goat Club (LOLNDGC). Our new club was designed with families in mind. At LOLNDGC it is not about who wins in the show ring, it is about being with family, having fun, and learning about the breed. It is amazing for me to think that a chance phone call all those years ago would lead to the development of a new community of people gathered together to share in a common experience and love for goats. Today our club has families from all over Illinois, Iowa and Indiana.

During my sophomore year of college, I spent the summer at a medium scale NDG operation in Georgia. During my time in Georgia I learned a great deal on how to handle and work goats by myself. My supervisor at the time stressed to me the importance of learning how to disbud and other tasks by yourself, because you will not always have someone to help you. One of my favorite things to do in Georgia was feeding baby kids 3 times a day. When you walk into a building filled with 35 plus baby goats it will make even the hardest of hearts melt.

Soon after returning from Georgia with the help of my mentor I obtained my Dairy Herd Improvement Association (DHIA) testing license. This license allows me to travel and test other people’s goat herd for milk quality. The test gives feedback to the breeder about their animals; SCC (Somatic Cell Count), Butterfat, Protein, Total Solids, MUN (Milk Urea Nitrogen), and Lactose. Through milk tests animals can earn milk stars based on the results of the tests.

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Photo by: Karen Goodchild

As Lincoln Land Nigerian Dairy Goat Club (LOLNDGC) was growing the club hosted more shows and clinics during the year. Our small club soon grew to a club that hosted 3 main show weekends a year with an average of 5 different shows being held in one weekend. In the summer of 2016 the LOLNDGC was asked to hold the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association judges training in Macomb, IL. During the 3 days of intense training we studied and talked deeply about what the NDGA looked for when judging. After the third day we took a writing test over the judging manual as well as had to place 4 classes of goats. I am proud to say that I passed the training and am happy to represent NDGA as a judge. Since obtaining my license I’ve had the opportunity to judge in Oklahoma, Illinois and Iowa. I was not only able to judge Nigerian shows, I have also judged county fairs and other goat breed association shows. In 2016 I decided to give back to the organization that has given so much to me over the years. I decided to join the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association Board of Directors. Currently I am the youth chair for this amazing organization. With the help of the other board members I continue to learn and gain knowledge about the goats as well as the organization.

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Photo by: Hillary Rabe

My journey with goats has been clearly shaped by the values I hold important and the communities I choose to belong to. The extended family that I belong to today is larger than I could have ever imagined and helps to motivate me to learn and achieve more knowing I have their support.

 

 

 

Want to know more?

Land of Lincoln Nigerian Dwarf Goat Club: https://bit.ly/2qUKGIF
Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association: https://bit.ly/2Jkoi2Z

 

head shotMy name is Cori Sargent and I’m from Cameron, Illinois. I am currently a senior here at WIU and I’m majoring in Ag Science with a minor in Animal Science. Who would have guessed that a 4-H workshop would have turned into a passion.

Swine Production Over the Centuries

The pig has been around for thousands of years roaming the Earth being wild and free. Pigs were domesticated over 9,000 years ago! This is before any kind of technology and buildings were ever designed for major swine production. The domesticated pig is said to  have originated from European wild boars. The earliest know recordings of domesticated pigs was in China around  4900 B.C. and in Europe by 1500 B.C. Its hard to think in today’s state of mind how people back then raised hogs, to how farmers today raise their own pigs.

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As years went by, countries in Europe set out to conquer and claim more land. In 1492, Christoper Columbus set out with his three ships to find new land. With the finding of America, new settlers started move away from Europe to start new lives. With this, the pig was now transport to America with these new settlers. Pigs are very hardy animals that could survive in the elements and adapt to the their surroundings.

As time came and passed, new ways came to raise swine. Pork was the main reason behind finding new techniques. It is a great source of protein for people to live off of. There were also other by-products that the pig could produce. Some of these would be lard, bones, and so much more. These animals were fed for maximum efficiency and were faster to there finishing weight compared to cattle. Settlers would feed their hogs food scraps or really anything that humans could not consume. These hogs became almost a working garbage can for leftover food that would not be used.

The pig and its production started to rise as more and more settlers swarmed into the new lands of America. Practices of raising swine did not change until around the late 1800’s, early 1900’s. Instead of being in a free range environment, farmers started to find new ways to keep their hogs in pens. This way they would not destroy farm ground or gardens from rooting them up and destroying the crops. With being in pens, farmers were able to keep more of an eye on how these pigs performed.

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Family farm in Georgia in 1938 Photo from Library of Congress

During the early 1900’s there were still many small farms that raise hogs for pork production. Each farm may of only fed out or had about 30-40 hogs at a time.  This may not have seemed like a large amount, but when you take into consideration 20 to 30 different farms in one small area, that number starts to rise. During this time period, pigs were fed to be extremely fat. During the first half of the 1900’s America was involved in the World Wars. To make and construct bombs, one important swine product was lard or pork fat was needed. This fat when mixed with certain products, became very explosive. For farmers to get a better price for their hogs, they fed them to be extremely fat to support the war effort.

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Pig from the 1920’s Photo from the Library of Congress

As time has moved forward though, these small farms have diminished and been replaced with large farms. These large farms have taken the swine industry by the horns and taken it to a whole other level. They have used so much technology and research to perfect the way swine are produced and raised. This includes nutrition, vaccines, and facilities to maximize production. Hogs have moved from pasture to confinement buildings to ensure that disease can be controlled. In these confinements they are also easily monitored and watched over. Fewer injuries and the threat of a predator have been terminated. These farms are still very much environmentally friendly in making the surrounding area to not be affected by the confinement or the pigs that live inside.

The most interesting thing though about the swine industry is that trends and kinds of pigs can be changed in a matter of two to three years. These trends have been changing non-stop with consumer demands. During the 1980’s and 1990’s society wanted a leaner product. So what did the swine industry do? They bred for the leanest and highest cutability pork to sell to consumers. As a kid growing up in the early 2000’s, I still remember what these pigs looked like. They were ripped up with muscle just like athletes are today. Today, the swine industry took another turn to heavier weighted hogs that have the correct fat cover. This fat helps with marbling and flavor of the pork. There is nothing better than a juicy piece of pork that melts in your mouth.

To conclude, the swine industry has been an important source of red meat protein for centuries. Not only did the pig evolve over time, but so did the swine industry as a whole. From raising pigs in a pasture, to confinements that lead to healthier and faster going pigs to get to market and on consumers plates. As said by Lewis B. Hershey When we know as much about people as hog specialists know about hogs, we’ll be better off.”.

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Hi my name is Cory Webster.  I am currently a senior at Western Illinois University majoring in Ag. Business and minoring in Animal Science. I plan on graduating here in May. I grew up on a large scale show pig operation in Chrisman, IL. Have been around swine production all of my life and plan on pursing a career that stays within the show pig industry. I hope you all enjoy the blog, as we went back into time and how the swine industry as transformed over the years!

From the Windy City to Corn Fields

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Finding my Purpose

As you can probably tell from the title I am originally from Chicago, Illinois. I spent the early years of my life in Austin, Chicago, but due to the increase in violence within my community, my parents decided to move my two brothers and I to a suburb called Oak Park- a place that I’ve grown to love and proudly call home. The change in environment helped guide me to my passions and this was where I discovered what I wanted to do for the rest of my life—help animals. As a young boy, I loved all types of animals. Not having a pet, like many other people I knew, didn’t seem to stop me in the least bit from interacting with one every chance got. I remember many occasions where I would bring home stray or lost animals, adopting them as my own (my mom would look at me crazily while she dialed the numbers on the dogs’ tags). A specific moment that helped me discover my passion for helping animals was on my way home from elementary school. As I got off the bus, there was Great Dane just sitting there by itself. Instinctively, the first thing I did was approach the dog to pet it. Time must have slipped from me because before I knew it, I had been sitting there for hours trying to keep the dog company and safe. Eventually, a man approached us and began to praise me for finding his lost dog. At first, I was disappointed because, as far as I was concerned, the Great Dane had become mine through those couple hours… but in the end, I did cave and returned the dog to his rightful owner. Even as a young boy, I felt the need to sit with the lost dog and help him in any way I could. This experience made me realize not only that I couldn’t resist a cute dog, but that I’ve always had an instinct to help animals, therefore my goal was to make it my purpose in life.

 

My Experience at WIU

Some of the few reasons that drew me to Western Illinois University was that I knew people who previously went to school here and that I wanted to go somewhere further away from home but close enough so that I could still visit frequently. To be honest, I  had no intention of pursuing agriculture here at W.I.U. and was quite unaware that Pre-Veterinary Science was under the umbrella of the Agriculture program. Upon finding that out, I assumed the next four years here a WIU weren’t going to be fun because I had no background in agriculture, nor did it even appeal to me. I imagined that because of my lack of experience in agriculture, I was going to be an outsider… Man was I wrong. The exact opposite ended up happening; everyone, from the teachers like Professor Hoge and Professor Bernards, to the students made me feel very welcomed and all my worries seemed to have been for nothing. To my surprise, I even looked forward to class at the farm because of the hands-on learning it gave me. Never in my life did I think I would be herding cattle but I did it here at Western. agriculture has provided me with a level of experience that I don’t think would have been provided elsewhere. This program has not only taught me more about animals, but has opened my mind to new things as well as allow me to have some of the best experiences of my life.

 

What I plan to Take Away From This

Being introduced to agriculture has really helped in my veterinary studies. The introduction to livestock really helped me deal with animals outside of the norm. I’ve also gotten to meet people who love what they are learning, which is something that I admire. I always hear people say, “I went to college for 4 years and I learned nothing”, but that’s not something I believe to be true for me. Everything that I’ve learned in class I plan on continuing to apply- not only when I go to veterinarian school, but even as I start to treat animals as a practicing vet. Even though my journey here has been totally unexpected, I believe I ended up in the perfect place in pursuit of my career— something I’ll never take for granted.

 

Background

My name is Markus Allen and I am a student at Western Illinois University studying Pre-Veterinary science as my major and Chemistry as my minor. Thanks for taking the time to read my Blog. (By the way that is me holding the piglet)

I Wasn’t Raised On A Farm But. . .

I wasn’t raised on a farm, but that hasn’t stopped me from achieving knowledge in the agriculture industry.

You see, I was raised in Monmouth, IL. A city that is made up of approximately 10,000 people. Although it’s surrounded by corn and soybean fields, I was completely oblivious to agriculture when I was growing up. Looking back at how ignorant I was to the agriculture industry as a whole truly opened my eyes.

My first experience with this great industry, was when I was introduced to the world of showing livestock. Although I had a late start in the game, beginning at age 14, it never hindered my experiences or successes. I quickly caught on to feed rations, animal handling, show etiquette, and the whole nine yards. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, I was challenged to compete in showmanship. For most, this wasn’t scary. They’ve been showing their whole life, why would this be a hard task? Just like anything else, I dove in head first and told myself ‘the worst thing that could happen is I get last .. right?
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WRONG! Within 5 minutes in the show ring, the judge began asking us questions. I’m sure you can picture the look on my face.. Priceless. After waiting the longest 3 minutes of my life, the judge finally approached me. He asked a simple question, but I always seem to over think things and make them worse than they actually are. I paused for a minute and began to digest the question, “if you had to choose one issue the Boer Goat industry is facing, what would it be?” A million things came to mind, but only one thing came out of my mouth. “Communication.” It hit me in that moment that the biggest challenge the livestock industry is facing is communication. Not just in the goat industry, not just cattle or swine. As a whole, communication is lacking and it could be the solution  to so much.

Once I had ‘mastered’ the show ring, I moved on to other challenges. The summer was coming to a close and my Sophomore year of high school was about to start. We were on our way home from a livestock show when Chris and Linda (my mentors in the livestock industry) talked to me about joining FFA. I wasn’t quite sure what FFA entailed or where I would fit in.. but Linda isn’t the type to take “no” as an answer. Before I knew it, I was shaking the hand of the agriculture educator and FFA advisor of Monmouth-Roseville’s chapter. I introduced myself to Mr. Kilburn, and explained that I had a new found passion in agriculture and I loved to talk (surprise, right?). He told me he’d find a place for me and he couldn’t wait to see me in class. Little did I know that hand shake would open so many doors for me.

Within the first few weeks of class, we had learned about record books. I was starting to question what in the heck Chris and Linda signed me up for. Just when I was questioning if I truly belonged, I signed up for my first public speaking contest. Naturally, I chose the topic of Animal Welfare. This was the largest misconception I knew of, and I was so passionate about it I knew I wouldn’t have any issues talking their ears off. I left that contest feeling empowered and confident, and all I knew was I wouldn’t find these opportunities anywhere else. I began enrolling in every contest our chapter participated in. Public speaking, parliamentary procedure, livestock judging etc. I was taking in every little bit of knowledge, and the more I learned the more I realized this industry wasn’t as corrupt or portrayed as everybody makes it out to be.

Hard work, knowledge, and motivation paid off and I eventually received my State FFA Degree and my American FFA Degree.

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Just as everything else had successfully fallen into place, I decided to choose Western Illinois University. Being as I found a strong passion for agriculture, and I knew the importance of communicating knowledge, I felt it was only right to study Agriculture Education. Most find it rather ironic and unique that somebody without an agriculture background would be intrigued to teach agriculture someday. However, I know it was what I was born to do and I wouldn’t be guided on this journey it I wasn’t meant for it.

I knew the consumer side, and I now came to educate myself on the production side of things. You would be amazed how much easier it is for me to communicate to consumers and those who have a lack of knowledge in agriculture. I came from that side of the fence, and I understand their concerns. I know I am apart of a large solution to the misconceptions, and Western has helped me notice that.

Within my studies, I have learned how to communicate with all sorts of consumers. I now know that knowledge and experience is key, and whether we have either of those or not, we are all still human at the end of the day. We all have different beliefs, passions, and motivation. If we didn’t, the world would be bland and we’d never learn anything new or gain new opportunities. The agriculture industry is very diverse, which makes sense, because the world is composed of agriculture wether you like to admit it or not.

Farmers are open to communicating if you’re open to listen. More often than not, the knowledge and answers you’ve been pondering have been in front of you the whole time. It’s all up to you to gain the correct knowledge, and you would be amazed where it will take you. The agriculture industry is filled with endless possibilities, and I am living proof of that. You don’t have to be raised on a farm to understand the practices and measures being taken every day by farmers and livestock caretakers. At the end of the day, we all want to live in a safe and efficient environment.

Just don’t be afraid to communicate. You never know what you’ll learn.

 

 

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My name is Morgan Lemley and I am a junior at Western Illinois University from Monmouth, IL. I am studying Agriculture Education, and I look forward to inspiring young minds and educating them on the field of agriculture. I hope you enjoyed my blog!

Work, School, Agriculture: Goal Driven.

So many students work during the year while taking a full schedule of classes and trying to achieve their goals. Why would I be any different? My name is Kassidy Quinn and I am a Junior at Western Illinois University. I am studying Agriculture Science with a minor in Animal Science. I’m still not 100% sure what direction I want to go once I graduate, but my options are apply and attend the University of Illinois to study Meat Science or to get a job as a Veterinary Technician at a vets office in Illinois or in Tennessee.

Meat science and a veterinary technician are two very opposite things, but two very needed positions at the same time. Currently, I am employed at Monmouth Small Animal Hospital. I have been working there since the beginning of 2014. I started out just being a kennel assistant and worked my way up to working as a vet tech assistant, receptionist, kennel assistant and janitor. I work as early as 4:30 some mornings and will work to as late at 11:30 some nights. Yep, you read that right! Some nights I don’t leave until 11:30 pm and still have to go home and work on homework. I work a full 40 hour week while going to school taking 20 credit hours.  It can get very stressful some days, but I have found a balance and work my way through it. My goal within my employment is to acquire a important knowledge to help ensure the health of companion animals, while also attending school to learn about livestock species and broaden that knowledge.

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Senior photo taken by Shyvel’s. Monmouth, Illinois.

I also mentioned Meat Science as a goal or career option. Many people don’t realize that meat science exists or that people go to grad school for meat science. I started out my college career at the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign. While there, we had to take a meat science class for my animal science requirement. The meat science class started out with our professor giving us three different types of hot dogs to eat and we had to decide which hot dog tasted better and why. It was quite intriguing. After we did our taste test, we walked through the locker on campus and discussed the different cuts and grades of meat and I just found it so interesting. That is where my love for meat science came from.

Now, you may be wondering how this all ties into my studies at Western. Well, my life completely changed when I started at Western. I had always known I wanted to have a career in agriculture in some way. I grew up going to both grandparents’ houses and completing chores with my cousins. My grandparents had pigs and field crops. I always preferred to be out on the farm where life was stress-free. Ever since I was little and out on the farm, I always had a love for broadening my knowledge on field crops and the family’s hog operation.

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Family Photo taken my family member. November 2016.

I remember getting up early some mornings to help my grandpa and uncle out at the farrowing house. Besides hogs, there was always a dog wherever I went. Between livestock and companion animals, I knew I had to incorporate that into my career. Like mentioned before, my only issue with college is that I don’t know which direction I should go for a career.  I am taking other classes such as agronomy and forestry and enjoying them, which I never thought I would. I am only a junior, my goal paths can still change and they most likely will, but my end result goals will not.  My advice to those who aren’t sure what exactly they want to do within the agriculture industry, take different agriculture science classes. There is bound to be a subject you learn about or discover that just lights a spark and who knows, maybe that is what you’ll decide you want to do as a career! Western gives you that opportunity to branch in all directions and learn so many new things.

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Image taken in farrowing house at the family farm.

Having goals is the most important thing you can do when you start college. You want to explore and find a path to follow to help you achieve that goal. Paths will fluctuate, but the goals behind them won’t. The strive for success will always be behind those goals. My grandpa always told me,  “Agriculture is ten thousand goals in itself. Find one you’re interested in and never let it out of sight.”

Thankful For Being From A Farm Family

Every day I am thankful I was born into a farming family. Being raised on a family farm with both crops and livestock has taught me not only many life lessons but has also shaped me into who I am today. I am sure many of you have read similar articles about why kids are thankful for being a farm kid but it is the truth. Being involved with the agriculture industry at a young age teaches true responsibility, discipline, hard work, how to care or tend to another living being, and to adapt to any situation. Whether the job is vaccinating cattle or hogs, putting out hay, spreading manure, or even weaning calves rain or shine you work until the job is done. Growing up on our farm, I have made many memories and never experienced any dull moments.

 

In the fall, you can ride in the tractor hauling grain. When winter comes, we are busy thawing out waters and bedding down the barns. After spring finally arrives, we

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Picture taken by Susan Creasey

are back in the field to plant the crops and begin to halter break calves for summer shows. Summer leads to endless time in the barn working and preparing our show heifers or time on the road heading  to cattle shows. My mother says, “The long road trips to Jr. Nationals are her favorite memories.”  Season after season, day in and day out, there is never a dull moment on the farm.

 

 

I have many fond memories that I have made while growing up on the farm and if you are a farm kid you can probably relate. You are always up before the sun and not back in the house after sun sets. The endless hours spent in the barn with your

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Picture taken by Payton Creasey

family turns into bonding time and teaches the true meaning of family.  My father said, “Time spent in the show barn with my daughters working on heifers is my favorite time spent.” In the winter when you get your work done and it’s time for fun, bring out the 4-wheeler to pull the sled on the snow. You have your “good” clothes and your chore clothes and boots. Growing up on a farm you learn to drive tractors, 4-wheelers, and trucks at a young age. You will have the tough call of do you chore before you go out to dinner or do it when you return. You learn where your food truly comes from. You learn to be tough. There is no crying. Get up, rub some dirt on it and keep moving to get the job done. Growing up as a farm kid I have learned family comes first, work until you get the job gets done, when working with livestock you are on their time, and lastly always thank a farmer. Even after all this I wouldn’t want to grow up anywhere else.

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Professional head shot by: Sarah Twidwell

 

Hi everyone, I am Payton Creasey. I will be graduating in May with a degree in Agricultural Business and a minor in Animal Science. I was born and raised in Macomb while following in the parents food steps by attending Western Illinois University. I come from a family that has crops and livestock. My past summers I have interned with Syngenta, a corn and soybean company, and also with Dearwester Feed and Grain Services. My passion is agriculture and I plan to one day pursue a career in this field.