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The Bovine Veterinarian, circa 1902
Veterinary medicine has been informally practiced by individual livestock owners since the early days of our country. Some who were more successful gained notoriety for their skills and became known as practitioners or “animal doctors”. As livestock became a source of income for many owners and their numbers grew, so grew the demand for educated practitioners. Private schools became the source for formal education and the first was the Veterinary College of Philadelphia in 1852. The first land grant college to open a veterinary school was Iowa State University in 1879. The United States Veterinary Medical Association was founded on June 9, 1863, in New York City. At a meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1898, the name was changed to the American Veterinary Medical Association as it is known today. The American Association of Bovine Practitioners was founded in 1965. As an international association of veterinarians, its mission is to increase the knowledge of the membership in the field of dairy and beef cattle.
When America was colonized, the first cattle were brought from Spain by the explorers and conquistadors. They were lean and had long horns and came to be known as Texas Longhorns. European breeders and eventually American breeders sought to improve beef and dairy bloodlines. Scottish breeders produced hornless black cattle originating from Celtic migrants that eventually became the Angus breed and the English produced the Hereford breed, both globally becoming the preferred beef stock, As early as 1816, Henry Clay of Kentucky imported Herefords. It was not until 1875 that ranchers adopted the breed to upgrade their Spanish Longhorn-derived herds. Holland produced short horned cattle known as Friesians, for the duel purpose of meat and milk. The Holstein was the eventual dairy offshoot of the Friesian bloodline. Although the history is uncertain, the popular dairy bloodlines of the Jersey and Guernsey developed in the Channel Islands between Britain and the French coast.
Anne Crawford in her oil on canvas rendering has beautifully depicted a pastoral scene for the birthing of a Hereford calf. The simple tools of a rope and leverage pole frequently aided in the process, reminding us of times since past.