Veterinary student education

With more than 4,500 adult cows housed on-site, the John Fetrow Dairy Education Center offers the unique opportunity for students to practice clinical medicine and gain experience in the day-to-day management activities of a large dairy. In clinical rotations, students are exposed to a high case load of the common transition diseases, such as metritis, milk fever, mastitis, displaced abomasum, and lameness, allowing them to develop or improve skills in physical exam, palpation, diagnosis, therapy, surgery and case management. In addition, the dairy is a complex laboratory for learning about reproductive management, nutrition and feeding programs, milk quality, housing and welfare.

Student rotations at the John Fetrow Dairy Education Center

Senior veterinary students who are interested in dairy practice may elect to spend one or more rotations at the John Fetrow Dairy Education Center. The rotations currently taught are described below.

Advanced Dairy Production Medicine (ADPM): 4 weeks

Students in this four-week rotation will learn and practice skills in dairy production medicine, including records analysis, preventive medicine and disease control, management and evaluation of nutrition, transition, reproduction, and milk quality programs, economic decision-making, food safety and residue avoidance, communication and leadership, and more. Activities include lectures, wet-labs, student projects, dairy herd visits and other field trips. This rotation builds on skills learned in the introductory rotation, Overview of Dairy Production Medicine (ODPM). Senior students from other veterinary colleges are encouraged to apply for either or both of these rotations. 

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Program dates

2023 program dates (intended for Class of 2024):

Overview of Dairy Production Medicine (ODPM): May 15-26, 2023 (2 weeks)

Advanced Dairy Production Medicine (ADPM): July 10 - August 4, 2023 (4 weeks)

Although students may have variable experience in dairy production medicine coming into the rotations, they are expected to have a strong interest in and commitment to dairy practice. Students who cannot attend ODPM in person will be able to access course material virtually and are expected to complete the virtual materials before attending ADPM.

Please note, as these are not clinical (sick cow) rotations, students with limited clinical skills in dairy veterinary medicine should not forfeit all other opportunities for clinical education in favor of this program.


Overview: $750 for either in-person or asynchronously, housing not included
Advanced if taken ODPM in person: $2,000, housing included
Advanced with virtual access (Not for credit - asynchronous) to overview materials: $2,250, housing included

If needed, students are encouraged to seek scholarship or grant assistance from sources like student organizations or from their own college. Students interested in this program are eligible for financial support from the AABP educational grant.


Application Deadline November 1st, 2022 
(You will be notified by December 1st if you are selected) 

To apply for these rotations, please submit:

  • your resume,
  • a 1-page letter of interest detailing your experience and interest in dairy production medicine, and
  • a letter of reference from a faculty member to:
    Jessica Yost
    John Fetrow Dairy Education Center
    43475 County Rd. 15
    Nicolet, MN 56082
    Email: [email protected]

Course description

Production medicine is the application of a wide array of knowledge and skills to dairy herd management with the aim of optimizing animal health and welfare, production, and profitability on the dairy. Dairy veterinarians must utilize this wide variety of knowledge and skills to best serve their dairy clients in a constantly changing dairy economy. Simply diagnosing pregnancy, performing surgeries and treating sick cows will not be enough to maintain the veterinarian's role on the dairies of tomorrow. These are for-credit rotations and students will be evaluated based on their participation and academic performance. To that end, this program aims to increase the proficiency and confidence of veterinary students to serve the dairy industry at a higher level.

Topic areas covered during the rotation:
  • preventive medicine and disease control
  • reproductive programs
  • animal husbandry and welfare
  • nutrition
  • mastitis and milking system evaluation
  • epidemiology
  • food safety
  • human resource management
  • dairy records analysis
  • economic decision-making
  • transition cow management
  • housing and facilities evaluation
  • communication and leadership skills

Overview of Dairy Production Medicine (ODPM)

This two-week rotation is an intensive introduction to dairy production medicine, and is intended both as a general overview for students who will go on to become mixed animal practitioners, and as the foundation for exclusive dairy students who will go on to the advanced rotation. This rotation is based at the St. Paul campus, and includes classroom instruction, group and individual student projects, hands-on labs, and field trips to local dairies.

ODPM Sample Schedule (PDF)

Advanced Dairy Production Medicine (ADPM)

ADPM is a four-week program designed to build advanced knowledge and skills in dairy production medicine for students who will go on to exclusively or predominantly dairy practice. Students who complete this program will have a working knowledge of DairyComp 305, and be able to thoroughly evaluate a dairy and provide recommendations regarding transition, nutrition, reproduction, youngstock and milk quality management. Students will visit multiple dairies to practice these skills, and will complete a group capstone project in which they will work more intensively with one dairy to develop not just recommendations, but work plans, protocols and partial budgets to help the dairy meet their goals. A key element of the capstone project is developing a working relationship with the on-farm team and practicing professional written and verbal communication skills. Faculty and guest presenters in this program include not just UMN CVM faculty, but also a variety of experts from other universities, private practice and industry. This rotation is based at the John Fetrow Dairy Education Center in Nicollet, MN.

ADPM Sample Schedule (PDF)

Program history

In 2011, the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine was designated by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture as the first ever National Center of Excellence in Dairy Veterinary Medicine. The purpose of this Center was to address the ongoing critical need for more intensive and specialized training for senior veterinary students interested in pursuing careers in dairy veterinary medicine. A team of faculty from the University of Minnesota, University of Illinois, University of Georgia, and Kansas State University developed a unique curriculum in dairy production medicine to be offered to senior students from veterinary schools in North America and around the world.

Feedback from non U of MN students

“My experiences at the University of Minnesota’s Dairy Production Management Programs were tremendously valuable for my education. They allowed me to have hands-on experiences working with dairy producers, consultants, and other veterinarians. Learning opportunities that I really enjoyed were formulating plans and recommendations for farm visits, working with Dairycomp, transition diseases, mastitis protocols, nutrition, parlor evaluation, and calf management. The faculty were very knowledgeable and welcoming. They really wanted us to be successful after graduation and were always there to answer any questions. The knowledge I learned through the program will be with me throughout the rest of my career. I would highly recommend this program to anyone who is interested in working in the production industry.”

- Oregon State University: Class of 2022 participant

“The DPM program provided an opportunity to build upon our dairy foundation and further prepare us to enter the veterinary profession.  The program focused on providing us the skills and resources to practice evidence-based medicine on a population level while improving individual animal welfare and producer profitability.  The DPM program should be taken if one is planning on practicing in the dairy industry”

- 2020 participant from KSU about their rotation experience

YouTube video feedback

- 2020 participant from Ontario Veterinary college

- 2020 participants from Cornell 

Dairy On-Farm Clinical (DOFC): 2 weeks

Students participate in the daily screening and physical examination of recently fresh cows, identify and treat sick cows, perform surgeries and necropsies. In addition, students may participate in ongoing health monitoring programs, such as calf serum total protein or dry cow urine pH monitoring. In the afternoons, students and faculty engage in discussions on relevant dairy cow medicine topics. Students live at the facility during this rotation so they are available at all hours to participate in clinical care, follow up on cases, and respond to emergencies.

Available dates for Dairy On Farm Clinical:

  • June 12-23, 2023
  • September 5-15, 2023
  • October 2-13, 2023
  • March 4-15, 2024
  • April 15-27, 2024

We will accept outside students if slots are not filled with UMN students. Email with interest and we will notify when UMN schedules are set.

Bovine Theriogenology & Lameness Overview (BTLO): 2 weeks

This rotation will focus on improving students’ clinical skills in the areas of bovine reproductive and foot health. Students will be taught topics related to diagnostics, treatment and management of reproductive and foot diseases of dairy cows, topics related to reproductive and lameness management of bovine herds, and on-farm data analysis related to reproductive and foot health performance. The theriogenology aspect of this rotation will focus on giving students extensive practice in palpation on a large commercial dairy. The lameness portion will focus on teaching proper functional and therapeutic trimming skills using cadaver specimens. This course will use a combination of hand-on clinical training and interactive case based, student led discussion. Students interested in more advanced training should follow up this rotation by taking the Bovine Theriogenology & Lameness Advanced rotation.

Bovine Theriogenology & Lameness Advanced (BTLA): 2 weeks

This rotation will focus on providing opportunities for students to receive advanced training and clinical skills in the areas of bovine reproductive and foot health. This rotation will build on the skills and knowledge introduced in Bovine Theriogenology and Lameness Overview.  Students will be exposed to additional palpation and ultrasonography of the reproductive tract, as well as advanced hoof trimming techniques on live cows. These experiences will be tailored to allow the student to gain both proficiency and efficiency in both diagnosis/treatment and preventative practices. This rotation is geared to students who see themselves working in an exclusively bovine practice. The rotation will use a combination of laboratories, on-farm activities, discussion and assignments.

Available dates for Bovine Theriogenology & Lameness Rotations:


  • September 5-15, 2023
  • October 16-27, 2023


  • March 18-29, 2024

We will accept outside students if slots are not filled with UMN students. Email with interest and we will notify when UMN schedules are set.

Prospective students

Senior veterinary students from other universities who are interested in participating in a rotation at the John Fetrow Dairy Education Center should email [email protected] for available program dates and application information.