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Importance of the veterinarian

Sheep and goat owners are certainly aware that many different kinds of health issues can affect their animals. Therefore, it is important to establish a professional relationship with a veterinarian. Veterinarians are trained diagnosticians, keep up with treatment options, and have resources to solve difficult problems. Here, I am taking the liberty of summarizing information from lecture material for my students by Professor Mary Smith, who is the veterinarian for the Cornell flock and an expert on small ruminant medicine (she wrote “the book” on goat medicine).

Role of the veterinarian

  • Know the difference in requirements for hobby vs commercial flocks and herds
  • Prevent health problems
  • Diagnose health problems
  • Treat animals
  • Evaluate records
  • Educate owners to recognize diseases they can treat and those for which they need a veterinarian’s help
  • Provide prescriptions (including withdrawal) times for off-label drug use. This is required by law. Note that many drugs needed by small ruminants are either off-label or only effective at off-label dosages.

Choosing a veterinarian

  • Should be interested in sheep medicine
  • May own sheep
  • Has access to resources such as the AASRP (American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners, P.O. Box 3614, Montgomery AL 36109, 334-517-1233
  • Works with other production species
  • Understands economic constraints

Arrange for a flock visit

  • Prescheduled, at least yearly, but preferably quarterly
  • Expect to pay for time/knowledge
  • Have production records available
  • Veterinarian examines animals, facilities, nutrition, current practices, records
  • Identify goals, limits to production
  • Prioritize actions



Choose a management area

Cornell Small Ruminant Management List Server
Click here to join the Cornell University sheepgoatmanagement list server. The purpose of the list server is to ask about and exchange information about sheep and goat management.

Cornell Sheep Program Home

Frequently used

Solar grazing

From Cornell University

Dairy sheep

From other academic and Extension sources 

From industry


  • ASI Sheep Care Guide
  • Sheep & Goat Research Journal
  • Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep: Breeds, Care, Facilities (search for this on-line)
  • The Sheep Book (by Ron Parker) (search for this on-line)


Michael L. Thonney, Professor
Director, Cornell Sheep Program and Graduate Field of Animal Science
114 Morrison Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4801

Dan L. Brown, Associate Professor
Nutritional Toxicologist
320 Morrison Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4801

tatiana L. Stanton, Extension Associate
Goat Specialist
114 Morrison Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4801 

Niko Kochendoerfer, PhD Student and Graduate Assistant
110 Morrison Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4801

Cornell Cooperative Extension Field Educators (posted on Mike Baker's Beef Cattle web site)

Interns, Students, and Volunteers

Major revision: October 2015
Please contact Mike Thonney at if you can't find something from the previous version.
Copyright © 2015 Michael L. Thonney

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