Students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine will work alongside veterinarians from the college and from the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) to provide veterinary care for all animals on the grounds during the 2015 Illinois State Fair.

"This is a great opportunity for the Department as well as the students from the U of I," said Ag Director Philip Nelson. "Large animal veterinarians are critical to the livestock industry. There has been a decline over the years in this field and this partnership serves as a way to give students another practical experience."

A variety of animals are exhibited each year at the Illinois State Fair, including beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, goats, swine, rabbits, poultry, and horses. Animals that enter the fairgrounds are required to be accompanied by a certificate of veterinary inspection and must be officially identified. Upon entry onto the fairgrounds, animals and certificates are checked by a veterinarian or trained member of IDOA staff. Additionally, veterinarians check animals for signs of illness and disease and are available around the clock for the duration of the fair to care for sick animals.

"Animal health is the Department's number one priority throughout the exhibitions at the Illinois State Fair," said State Veterinarian Dr. Mark Ernst. "As an alumnus of the University of Illinois, I'm excited to work closely with students who are preparing to enter into the workforce."

"The University of Illinois is widely recognized for its innovative veterinary curriculum, which provides students with more hands-on engagement in animal care throughout the four-year program and earlier in the program than any other U.S. veterinary college," said Dr. Jim Lowe, one of the faculty members leading the Illinois State Fair veterinary care team. "This partnership with IDOA gives students interested in production medicine a fantastic opportunity to put their skills and knowledge into action."

Veterinarians from the university, many with board certification for veterinary practice with horses, food animals, and swine health management, will supervise the veterinary students, who will be on-site at the fairgrounds throughout the event. The university's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory will also be part of the package of services the college brings to the fair.

The College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois offers the state's only Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree program. Its Veterinary Teaching Hospital has the state's most comprehensive facilities, with specialists in fields ranging from anesthesia to zoo medicine; advanced diagnostic imaging, surgery, and reproduction technologies; and investigations leading to advances in animal health.

By The Numbers:

12,110 animals exhibited during the 2014 Illinois State Fair

Illinois is the home to 261 large-animal veterinarians

More than 2,000 veterinarians living in Illinois earned their veterinary degree at the University of Illinois

At the university's veterinary hospital in Urbana in 2014, more than 80 veterinarians delivered care to 21,378 animal patients; another 12,513 animals were seen on farms last year.