RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The NC State College of Veterinary Medicine is working to expand their Large Animal Hospital.

It comes as the North Carolina State Budget allocated $70 million to the research institution.

Care at the Large Animal Hospital (NC State School of Veterinary Medicine)

“$70 million is unprecedented in the history of NC State. We’ve never seen an allocation of funding like that for large animals,” said Dr. Anthony Blikslager, Associate Dean for Veterinary Medical Services.

The funding is being put toward expanding and renovating the college’s Large Animal Hospital, which will include a new Equine Veterinary Center to better serve horses, livestock and the occasional zoo animal.

Needing more space

The expansion is needed as more large animals in North Carolina require care.

“The building opened in the early 80s, and it’s become essentially outdated,” said Dr. Blikslager. “It has a lot of modern equipment in it, and it’s also outgrown the horse population and the farm animal population, so we need more stalls.”

To accommodate the need, he said different wings like a surgery wing and an intensive care wing will be part of the expansion.

It will also house modern equipment, and feature a lameness arena across the street to treat lame horses.

“The one part of space that we run out of most frequently is isolation space for animals with infectious disease,” Dr. Blikslager explained. “So that’s really important when we have outbreaks around the state.”

He said the expansion will also feature a specialized place for their newly-hired, world renowned equine podiatrist to work.

“He’s kind of working out of his truck right now,” he said. “It’s an illustration of our shortage of space.”

Filling the demand

Dr. Blikslager says as more people move to North Carolina, large animals are as well.

Horse getting an MRI (NC State School of Veterinary Medicine)

He also says demand is high is because of the lack of large animal care coverage across North Carolina.

“People come from a 3 to 5 hour radius to us,” he said. “A lot of farm areas don’t have coverage, so we want to train as many large animal vets as we can.”

“For example, northeastern North Carolina has very little coverage for large animals,” he explained. “So they’ll have to bring them into us for even some of the simplest problems. And so that just sort of highlights the issue.”

Investing in agriculture

Agriculture and agribusiness is the biggest industry in North Carolina, and contributes $103.2 billion to the state’s economy.

Two billion of that comes from the state’s equine industry, which employs more than 25,000 people.

According to the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine, the college plays a major role in North Carolina’s food animal industry.

They said their research, diagnostics, hospital care and graduates in the field contributed to the state’s $13.3 billion farm cash receipts in 2021, with almost 70% of those receipts involving livestock, dairy and poultry production.

NC State says the new Equine Veterinary Center will allow them to continue playing this role.

We are so grateful for the support of the state of North Carolina as we move forward with this important construction project,” said Dr. Kate Meurs, dean of the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine. “This new funding will allow us to provide cutting-edge care in a cutting-edge facility and to make sure our trainees know and have access to the most modern techniques as we continue to serve our community.” 

“We really want to thank the lawmakers of the state for making this happen,” said Dr. Blikslager. “We’re just incredibly grateful. Please come by and see us, and we’ll give you a tour.”

Construction for the expansion is expected to begin in 2026.

Large Animal Hospital (NC State School of Veterinary Medicine)