ISU Veterinary Professor Earns Board Certification in Small Ruminant Health Management


Tracy Ann Raef, Veterinary Communications, (515)-294-4602 

February 5, 2014

Paul Plummer, DVM, PhD, assistant professor of large animal medicine at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, recently earned board certification in small ruminant health management. He is the only veterinarian in the United States and one of two veterinarians in North American certified by the European College of Small Ruminant Health Management.

The ECSRHM is the only veterinary specialty college in the world that certifies competency specifically in small ruminants (specifically sheep and goats), beyond the general practitioner level. Meeting the rigorous requirements of the ECSRHM demonstrates that Plummer has attained an exceptional level of knowledge that will benefit Iowa’s livestock producers, and future veterinarians.

“Small ruminants is the one species that seems to bridge all veterinary practices from the small animal practitioner whose clients may have a pet goat to the large animal veterinarian who treats herds owned by livestock producers,” Dr. Plummer said. “Small ruminant medicine training is the most consistent area that our graduate veterinarians say they wish they had more of as students. Most didn’t anticipate doing that much small ruminant work. In the United States we typically categorize small ruminants as sheep, goats, alpacas, llamas, and farm deer.”

“The most important message that I tell our veterinary students is that it’s not safe to assume that a goat or sheep is a small cow,” Plummer said. “Sheep and goats often metabolize drugs much differently than cows, and many diseases present themselves differently in the small ruminant than in cattle.”

Besides passing his knowledge to the students he teaches, Plummer also speaks at national and international producer meetings. He also is the senior editor of a new textbook “Applied Small Ruminant and Camelid Medicine” to be published this year.

According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service 2011 survey, Iowa ranks 4th in the United States in the number of sheep operations, and the 250-mile radius around Ames, Iowa, has a quarter of the United States dairy goat operations. “When I came to Iowa State University in 2004, there were less than 50 goat dairies,” said Plummer. “Now there are over 200 goat dairies in Iowa. The industry is thriving and growing.”

“Iowa is poised to continue to grow animal agriculture,” said Dr. Pat Halbur, professor and chair of the college’s Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine and executive director of Iowa State’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. “ To do that Iowa producers need access to the very best clinicians and researchers at Iowa’s land-grant institution. They have that with Dr. Plummer at Iowa State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Plummer is simply THE expert in North America when it comes to small ruminants. He is also internationally renowned for his broad and deep expertise in bovine and camelid medicine and infectious disease research.”

Plummer is a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. He is also board-certified in large animal internal medicine by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.