Swine vet wins prestigious award

ST. PETER, Minn. (AP) — Paul Yeske recently received one of the highest honors a pig doctor can obtain.
He was named Swine Practitioner of the Year by the American Association of Swine Practitioners, which represents 1,700 veterinarians in North America.
Chuck Peters, one of Yeske’s clients in St. Peter, was not surprised by the news. He said that knowledge of Yeske’s expertise has spread beyond southern Minnesota.
“He’s very well respected in the field,” Peters said.
The 37-year-old veterinarian is in demand as a consultant and speaker throughout the world. His work has taken him to such places as Japan, Brazil, Spain, Thailand and Italy.
Yeske established the Swine Vet Center in St. Peter with veterinarian Tim Loula in 1991. The business now employs five other vets and serves more than 250 clients with 175,000 sows. Most of the clients are within 75 miles of St. Peter, but the center assists a few farmers in South Dakota and northern Iowa.
Steve Langhorst is a pig producer and one of Yeske’s clients. He said Yeske takes pride in helping farmers succeed.
“Look at how progressive and successful the swine industry is in this part of Minnesota,” Langhorst said. “I’d say a lot of that has to do with Paul and his partners.”
The Swine Vet Center offers farmers a more well-rounded service than vets used to provide.
“Our clients want in-depth knowledge about their operations,” said Loula, who was honored in 1990 with the same award Yeske recently received. “It’s not about just what shot to give to a pig. They’re looking for advice about production management, ventilation, genetics, nutrition and more.”
Peters said Yeske’s approach helps him diagnose weaknesses in his 900-sow herd.
“The role of veterinarians on swine farms has changed dramatically,” Peters said. “Before, I called the vet only when I had a sick animal. Now he makes scheduled visits. We’re taking more of a preventive approach instead of putting out fires.”
Yeske not only monitors the health of pigs, he also examines the farmers’ management practices and provides tips on improving productivity.
Yeske has been around livestock his entire life. He grew up on a farm outside of Villisica, Iowa.
“I probably made the decision to become a veterinarian somewhere back in grade school after I realized that I wouldn’t be able to stay on the home farm,” Yeske said. “I figured being a veterinarian would be the next best thing.”
Yeske said the farm he grew up on was not large enough to support more than one family. He learned about livestock at an early age because his father raised beef cattle and pigs, as well as corn and beans.
Yeske tagged along with the local veterinarian in high school. “Sometimes I was able to help out, and sometimes I just got in the way,” he said.
He earned a degree in veterinary sciences from Iowa State University and began working in 1985 for the Nicollet-New Ulm Veterinary Clinic.
In 1991, Yeske narrowed the scope of his practice when he established the Swine Vet Center in St. Peter with veterinarian Tim Loula.
“We decided we could provide better service if we were able to specialize on just one species,” Yeske said.
Partly because of the veterinarians’ reputations, the tight focus didn’t hurt business.
“The pig business was really growing, and it looked to us like it would continue to,” Loula said.
Yeske credits farmers who implement new concepts and equipment for helping to make his business successful.
“Our clientele has been willing to adopt new technology and their attitude has really helped us to learn and grow,” Yeske said.