Veterinarian provides a helping hand

Helpers keep market goats in line as they await their turn in the ring at the 76th Big Bend Livestock Show last year in Alpine. 

Livestock show season can be a busy and exciting time for exhibitors and their families. The Big Bend Livestock Show is right around the corner, and youth from FFA and 4-H clubs in Brewster and Jeff Davis counties have been preparing all year long to compete for bragging rights and show off their prized animals.

Dr. Ray Allen of Alpine Veterinary Clinic provides a much-needed service by offering free wellness care for the show animals, something he has done since he started practicing in 1973. 

“We help them take care of the animals, and we don’t charge for the market animals,” said Allen, whose vet clinic treats all animals, large and small.

Allen established Alpine Veterinary Clinic in 1983. When his children were growing up, they all showed their animals at the stock show, and became a family tradition.

Now, his grandchildren are the newest generation engaged in the breeding, raising, and marketing of prized animals. Allen’s daughter Mindy Wiggins showed, and now her daughter Kaitlyn is continuing the tradition, showing lambs, goats, and more.

“We are working on the third generation of some of these kids. We worked with the grandparents, the parents, and now the kids,” noted Allen.

Allen treats animals with parasitic and respiratory infections, provides vaccinations and castrations, and performs cosmetic procedures such as tail docks. It takes a team effort, and Allen recognizes there are many behind the scenes at the livestock show who make it happen.

“You have leaders involved in that, the ag teachers and county agents who are excellent,” said Allen. “These animals are going to be monitored and taken wonderful care of, so you are not going to see a deficiency when they get to the show.”

Like any athletic competition, it takes a considerable amount of time, hard work, and dedication to prepare for the livestock show. Allen noted that steers require year-round preparation, and sheep and goats several months, while swine take less time since they mature rapidly.

Allen acknowledged the livestock show is a learning experience that is all about the kids and their efforts and dedication, along with the “heroes of it all,” the county extension agents and ag teachers.

“You have those leaders behind those kids, and they do a tremendous job,” he said. “Those are the people who make it happen. What we do is just a small part.”

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