Jake Hall returns home as a large animal vet
Lander – “My family has run cows since I was a young kid, and a couple surgery procedures on prolapsed cows got me interested when I was about six years old, and since then I never deviated from wanting to be a vet,” says Lander large animal veterinarian Jake Hall.
“I went all through college, graduated and came back here right away,” says Jake, noting that he received his bachelor’s from UW, then went on to Washington State University for veterinary school. “The large animal program led me there – they had what seemed to be a good program, with a good bunch of professors.”
Following graduation, Jake returned to Fremont County to begin his own practice, known as High Country Veterinary Service, and is based in Lander. A large animal mobile veterinary service, Jake serves the entire county.
“I started that up, and I’m really busy,” he comments. “I spend most of the week out in the country, and work one day a week in town at the clinic, which is my base for small animal types of things.” Jake works with another vet in Lander who handles the clinic four days a week, and they trade emergency call responsibilities.
Jake’s vet service has been operating for just over a year. “I do appreciate reproductive work a lot more with cattle than other things, but for the most part I’m a general practitioner and I take care of everything I have to,” he says of his work.
“You have to have good people skills, that’s for sure,” says Jake. “It does also benefit to have a good background in business. I have a minor in business from UW, so I learned a few things with that, and it does help in doing my financial work.”
As a vet, Jake is responsible for his continuing education credits. He’s also taken advantage of Wyoming’s Vet Loan Repayment Program, which helps food animal vets pay off student debt while practicing in the state.
“One of the biggest challenges to being a large animal vet is having enough time for everyone,” says Jake. “Everybody needs things done right away, and vets can only spread themselves so thin. That’s the biggest problem.”
He says another challenge is the circumstances country vets can encounter. “Some of the calls I go out on, people want me to do reproductive work on a cow, and they tie her to a tree,” recounts Jake. “Those are the fun ones – trying to do procedures like that.”
“No matter where I go, I find different people with different levels of knowledge of their animals, so as a vet I have to cater the information and treatment protocols for those animals, based on what their owner knows about them. I’ve found compliance is hard to get through to people, and sometimes I have to keep calling to make sure they’re doing the things I told them to.”
However, he says he enjoys large animal work, so he has no complaints. “Weather is the biggest thing, in the winter, and getting in to where I need to be. But finding time is the biggest problem.”
“There are a few other large animal vets in the county. There are some in Riverton who are getting up in age and starting to slow down, so I’m picking up some of their business,” adds Jake.
Of course, in the fall Jake is busy with preg checking, Bangs vaccinations and some trich testing. “Spring is calving and those problems, so fall and spring are really busy. Christmastime and New Year’s slows down for a little while, with a lot of horse work in the later spring and summer. It does slow down a little in the summer, but I have had pretty good luck staying busy.”
Jake says some producers in Fremont County who run over in Teton County during the summer have to bleed and brucellosis test their cattle every year.
As far as his time spent on the road, he says, “The easiest way to put it is that I bought my pickup new while still in school, and have 40,000 miles on it this year.”
Looking to the future, Jake says he plans to eventually put in his own clinic as a base for his vet services, but for the most part he says he’ll continue as he is, and potentially bring in another vet to help him out.
Of working in Fremont County’s ranching community, Jake says, “They know what they’re doing, and they expect you to know what you’re doing. They’re efficient with their time, and they expect you to be, as well.”
Christy Martinez is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.