Te Awamatu veterinarian James Young’s experiences – from keeping 50,000 cattle healthy in China to performing a rectal exam on a four-tonne elephant in South Africa – is living proof that variety is a big part of a veterinary career, Massey University reports.
After graduating from Massey, Dr Young started working as a dairy vet in Te Awamutu but a year later – in 2007 – was asked if he wanted to go to China and help set up large scale dairy farms for Fonterra.
His clinic manager was supportive and within a week he had a visa and flew to China with a about 50kg of veterinary equipment, drugs, “basically prepared for anything!”
On his first day, he vaccinated a large herd in minus 20 degrees Celsius!
“My bones hurt, and the vaccine kept freezing between rows of cattle!”
The planned two-month stay turned into nearly a year and Dr Young became hooked on international work, returning to do other projects frequently in China.
In 2014, he was responsible for 50,000 cattle and 100 veterinarians and breeders as a chief veterinarian.
While a student, he had secured a place on an international vet student trip called SYMCO in South Africa.
With 90 vet students from around the world he toured several game parks
“…and got up close and personal with wild cheetah, elephant, lion and rhino, that had been darted for sampling, pregnancy testing and health checks. I convinced the wildlife vet manager to let me do a rectal exam on a heavily sedated four-tonne wild elephant.”
Dr Young completed a Master of Veterinary Public Health Management at the University of Sydney in 2009.
Three years later he was working with the Mekong Livestock Research team in a project manager role, working on research projects in Cambodia and Laos.
Those projects were designed to research ways of improving transboundary animal disease control, including Foot-and-mouth disease in the Mekong region.
The experience ignited Dr Young’s further interest in learning more about how livestock disease control is connected to wider food insecurity and poverty issues in the region. He started the PhD in early 2013 and completed it part-time over four and a half years, while employed full-time working as project manager.
His PhD focused on how to improve disease control and biosecurity in smallholder farms and their wider communities in Cambodia.
Alongside this work, since 2013 he has been an Animal Health Economics consultant for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) at the Regional Asia and Pacific office based out of Bangkok.
Dr Young is also interested in technology to help farmers identify and improve biosecurity, so he started developing farmer extension content with the aim of getting it online and scaled out widely and rapidly.
In 2017, he released the first farmer course in New Zealand called ‘Close The Gate’ which is a online training tool designed in response to the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak that hit the headlines in July 2017. The course is designed to be completed on a smart phone, and even be undertaken on the back of a quad bike while a farmer waits for the cows to walk up the race.
Source: Massey University