Denmark – 225 Years of the Kopenhagen Veterinary School

In August 1998 the Veterinary School in Kopenhagen celebrated the 225th anniversary of its foundation.

At that occasion a 115 page book was published with 14 contributions, i.a. written by I. Katic (on the highlights in the history of the school; on the sculptures and paintings in its possession and a bibliography of earlier Festschrifte) and by A. Rosenbom (on the developments in veterinary practice).

The title of the book reads: Veterinærskolen 225 år; Rids af de seneste års udvikling [The Veterinary School 225 years; Sketches of the developments in the last 25 years]. Red. G. Lefmann. Frederiksberg: Kollegiet for Husdyrbrugs- og Veterinærvidenskab/Den Kgl. Veterinær- og Landbohøjskole, 1998. ISBN 87-7432-526-4.

In 1999 the Danish Veterinary Association celebrated its sesquicentennial jubilee. For that occasion a special exhibition was held at the Danish Agricultural Museum (Gammel Estrup, Djursland) about the work of Danish veterinarians throughout 150 years.

Dr. Bent Christensen reports:

The Veterinary school

In this exhibition special mention is made of Peter Christian Abildgaard (1740-1801), who founded Den Kongelige Veterinærskole (Royal School of Veterinary Medicine) in Christianshavn, Copenhagen, in 1773, and of Erik Viborg (1759-1822). After Viborg’s death in 1822, it was not long before the space available at the school in Christianshavn became too cramped. In 1858, Den Kongelige Veterinær- og Landbohojskole (Royal Danish Veterinary and Agricultural University – commonly referred to as KVL) could receive its first intake of veterinary trainees “far out in the country” in Frederiksberg, where it is still situated.

Military veterinarians

From very early times, the army has had a proud tradition of employing veterinarians. As far back as the first centuries AD, reports tell of “military veterinarians” in the Roman legions, and this was a tradition that persisted throughout the subsequent centuries. Around 1780, a new era began for the army’ s veterinary service as the army was slowly supplied with qualified veterinarians. The army’s veterinary corps was established in 1810 and has thus been in existence for almost 190 years. As horses were gradually phased out of the military, the military veterinarians were assigned to other tasks – primarily related to food control – although the officer in command is still called colonel of the veterinary corps.

The Danish Veterinary Association founded in 1849

Absolute monarchy in Denmark was abolished in 1848, and this signalled the start of the formation of countless associations. Veterinarians, too, discussed the options for organising themselves, and this led the colonel of the veterinary corps, David Gottschalksen Ringheim (1787-1875) to insert an advertisement in the newspaper Berlingske Tidende in January 1849, calling the veterinary profession to demonstrate its presence and to show its role in society. Ringheim acted fast. By 8 February 1849, a meeting had already been held in the Kongens Nytorv 5 restaurant where Den Danske Dyrlaegeforening (Danish Veterinary Association) was founded and agreement was reached on the guidelines for the association’s regulations. In March 1849, the association approached the authorities concerned with the Royal School of Veterinary Medicine to draw their attention to the wishes of veterinarians with respect to training and their professional role.

Evolution of the profession

Throughout its 225 years of existence, the veterinary profession has developed and changed. This applied also to the employment options for veterinarians. Denmark’s entry, in 1973, into what was then the EEC, resulted in comprehensive harmonisation of legislation and regulations that have also had an impact on veterinary areas. During the first ten years of Denmark’s membership of the EEC, employment for veterinarians in the cattle industry was stable, but at a later point the number of herds fell considerably. This can primarily be attributed to milk quotas imposed to limit the increasing levels of milk production.

In the pork industry, the veterinary service has moved from diagnosis and treatment of individual animals to providing diagnosis and advisory services at herd level.

In the area of small animals and hobby animals, veterinary activity and employment has increased over the years. The number of veterinary clinics and hospitals has also increased significantly.

For many years, veterinarians have played an important role in veterinary meat inspection at abattoirs. The objective is to safeguard consumers against any health risk associated with eating meat and meat products. The number of cattle slaughtered has fallen markedly while the number of pigs slaughtered has increased to approx. 20 million per year.

In the early 1970s, Denmark passed new food legislation that established the Miljo- og Levnedsmiddelkontrollen (Municipal Food Control Unit – MLK) within a municipal framework, and about 50 MLK units were set up employing many veterinarians. From 1993, the units were assigned new tasks involving industrial and consumer milk control, but at the same time the number of MLK units was reduced to 32. With the introduction of new food legislation, 11 regional units will remain.

Practising veterinarians use both state and private laboratories when diagnosing diseases. Under the terms of legislation concerning contagious diseases in domestic animals, the state laboratories – Statens Veterinaere Serumslaboratorium (National Veterinary Laboratory) and Statens Veterinaere Institut for Virusforskning (State Veterinary Institute for Virus Research) – are required to conduct the laboratory tests in connection with such diseases. Furthermore, the two laboratories are also engaged in a certain level of vaccine and serum production and important related research. The virus research institute on the island of Lindholm has a fine 70-year-long tradition for research in foot and mouth disease in cattle. Finally, agricultural organisations have established several nationwide laboratories, which also employ many veterinarians.

The exhibition at the Danish Agricultural Museum

In illustrating the long development right back from the time of the cattle plagues and Abildgaard, the exhibition presents a wide range of instruments and other articles, including horseshoes, used by veterinarians in their day-to-day work. These items stem from the Veterinaerhistorisk Museum (Historical Museum of Veterinary Science) at KVL, where extensive work is carried out to preserve these valuable objects for posterity. There is also a range of specimens from KVL’s pathology department, where they are used for teaching purposes. Other objects are on loan from the Slagterimuseet (Abattoir Museum) in Roskilde, the Garderhusarregiment (Royal Hussars) in Naestved, the abattoir in Bjerringbro and from Kruse, a firm for veterinary supplies servicing today’s veterinarians. The National Veterinary Laboratory shows how the campaign against salmonellosis is being conducted through collaboration between veterinarians and others involved in industry. Along the way, the exhibition looks at some of the many veterinarians who have worked abroad over the years.

This tour of veterinary history concludes with a look at a modern small-animal clinic, food control, abattoir meat inspection and at the latest, state-of-the-art equipment found in vehicles used in a veterinary practice of today – complete with cellular phone, fax and PC.

Denmark – 1998

Report of the visit of the Danish Veterinary History Society to Hannover, Brussels and The Netherlands, 7-14 june 1998

Eleven members of the Dansk Veterinærhistorisk Samfund and their partners, together 19 persons, were on a study tour to the Low Countries. On their way to The Netherlands they first payed a visit to theTierärztliche Hochschule in Hannover. Here they were received by prof. E.-H. Lochmann and prof. J. Schäffer, who showed them around in the Veterinary Museum. During their stay in The Netherlands the group was lodged in a hotel near the Utrecht Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, from where all excursions were made.

On June, 9th, they were the guests of the Netherlands Veterinary History Society. In the morning a visit was paid to the Faculty. After a speech of welcome by the director of the Faculty, several museums and clinics were visited. After a lunch in the Botanical Gardens a visit was paid to the University Museum. The dinner party was cheered up by singing, accompagnied by piano, violin and trumpet, with the assistance of eight members of The Golden Trachea, a club of Dutch veterinary students.

On Wednesday, the European parliament in Brussels was visited, where a lecture was given by a Danish member of this parliament, followed by a lecture of Dr. Jørgen Westergaard, head of the Animal Health section of DG VI. On the next day two museums in Haarlem were on the programme: first the oldest museum in The Netherlands, the Teyler Museum dating back to 1784 with its very diverse collections of paintings, drawings, scientific instruments, fossils and minerals, medals and coins, followed by the Frans Hals Museum.

On Friday a visit was paid to Museum Boerhaave, the National Museum for the History of Sciences in Leyden, and to Panorama Mesdag in The Hague. A sight-seeing tour, guided by Paul Leeflang, brought the Danes not only to the buildings of the Dutch Parliament but also along an open air exhibition of 20th century sculptures and statues; among them two modern representations of Cheiron. A farewell dinner was held at the seafront in Scheveningen.

Denmark – 1997

Visit of the Danish Veterinary History Association to Berlin and Poland,

1-10 June 1997. Report by Ivan Katic.

To commemorate the fact that prof. Eric Viborg travelled 200 years ago to Poland in order to buy horses for the Royal Danish Studs*), 34 members of the Danish Veterinary History Association followed Viborg’s steps. The way there, they made a stop in Berlin, where they were received by Dr. Martin Brumme. He showed them around at the old Veterinary School in Berlin-Mitte with its famous Zootomy Building, and told about the history of the school, established in 1791. His talk was followed by a short lecture by I. Katic on 200 years of relations between the Danish and the Berlin schools. In the afternoon Virchow’s Museum was visited and the restauration of his institute, demolished during World War II, was seen.

The next stop was in Poland, where the participants had the chance to visit the Wavel Castle in Cracow and some museums, a.o. the Czartoryski Museum, where Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with the ermine is the absolute attraction. South of Cracow, in Bialsko, the Danish vets visited a stud farm with Anglo-Arabian horses. Every year many yearlings are sold to be trained for the sport.

In Pulawy the Veterinary Institute was visited, and also the famous Czartoryski Castle, once the only place where Polish noblemen could meet and discuss the liberation of their country. In Pulawy is also a small museum with a display in memory of the eradication of rinderpest in Poland in the 1920’s.

In Lublin a visit was paid to the Veterinary School, the University and the Lublin Academy, where a concert was given.

The last destination was the Veterinary Museum in Ciechanowiec. The visitors were received there very cordially. Under the guidance of Grzegorz Jakubik DVM the large collection, consisting of 3500 items, was admired. Jakubik explained the activities of the museum, that regularly organizes symposia together with the Veterinary History Section of the Polish Veterinary Association. In 1997 two symposia are held: one on the contributions of women veterinarians in Poland (vide infra sub POLAND) and the other on Polish veterinarians abroad.

The total price of this excursion was 4500 DKr. (approx. US $ 750.-) with travel by bus and very good hotels.

*) A brochure of 32 pp. to commemorate Viborg’s journey, and at the same time the 175th anniversary of his death, was published by I. Katic under the title En rejse til Polen og Rusland i 1796 (Kilder til veterinærhistorisk forskning nr.10. ISBN 0903-96-86), also published as a supplement to Dansk Veterinærhistorisk Aarbog38, 1998.

Denmark – 2000

Dansk Veterinærhistorisk Årbok

The Dansk Veterinærhistorisk Samfund has published vol. 37 (1996) and vol. 38 (1998) of Dansk Veterinærhistorisk Årbok, with resp. 197 and 163+32 pp.

Vol. 37 is richly illustrated with six ills. in colour. All texts are in Danish. The contents of vol 37 are:

  • A. Rosenbom [Victims during the years of German occupation under the Danish veterinarians and veterinary students];
  • J. Schouenborg [The Danish expedition to Poland in 1920-21 to campaign against the rinderpest];
  • T. Nielsen [Mårten Lindfors (1800-1869), the first Finnish student at the Danish Veterinary School;
  • G. Espersen [“Rampelauget”, a club of veterinarians connected to the Kopenhagen slaughterhouse]; J. Kristiansen [Veterinarians in Egtved (Jutland);
  • K.-E. Høgsbro [Søren Abildgaard, geologist, discoverer of antiquities and miniature painter]; Biographies of Danish veterinarians passed away in 1992 and 1993.

And of vol. 38:

  • V. Villadsen. [The diary of the veterinarian Sophus Petersen from 1864];
  • E. Greve. [Hans Roth, as I keep him in memory];
  • C.E. von Weigel. [Report of the journey to veterinary schools in Denmark and Germany in 1819];
  • In memoriam for the years 1994, 1995 and 1996;
  • Supplement to necrologies of the years 1934 and later;
  • I. Katic. A journey to Poland and Russia in 1796 (separately printed and added to the vol.)

Veterinary Museum

The Veterinary Museum at Kopenhagen (with 8000 items) is taking the necessary steps to expand. Before long the Museum will have at its disposal the upper floor of the University’s main building. This room will be used to exhibit the skeletons of famous animals of Danish breed, and also its collection of horse saddles and harnesses.

Weekly meetings at the Agricultural Museum

As of April 2000 weekly meetings will be arranged at the Agricultural Museum in Gl. Estrup in Jylland (to the North of Aarhus). The main purpose will be to save old veterinary instruments before they disappear from practice and to discuss their use and origin. The instruments will be kept by the museum together with the assembled documentation.

Similar activities (with lectures) have been arranged with great succes at the Danish Veterinary Museum in Copenhagen since the middle of the 1980’s. They were initiated by Ivan Katic, and are now continued by H.H. Smedegaard.

Czech Republic

The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Brno regularly publishes small monographs in Czechoslovak language in the field of veterinary biography/history under the serial title Historia medicinae veterinariae (not to be confused with the periodical published in Denmark!). The history issues have their own serial number, next to a number of the Faculty’s general serial.

Some of the recent titles are:

Böhm, R. et al. (eds.) Carvas, J. (1917-1992) [My diary from Zlin]. Zlínsky diár. Brno: Konvoj, 1996. 46 p. (Historia Medicinae Veterinariae. Brno; 28).

Filka, J.; Sindlar, J. (eds.) [Doc. Rer. Nat. dr. Otakar Koutný (1905-1992). Outline of his life and work]. Doc.R-NDr. Otakar Koutný. Nárys zivota a díla. Brno: Konvoj, 1995. 40 p. (Historia medicinae veterinariae Brno; 26).

Filka, J. (ed.) Lojda, L. [The past and future of genetic disease prevention in veterinary medicine]. Historie a perspektivy genetické prevence ve veterinární medicíne. Brno: Konvoj, 1996. 37 p. (Historia Medicinae Veterinariae. Brno; 31).


At the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the foundation of the Veterinary School in Zagreb a nicely produced booklet was published that, next to a short description of the history and the actual situation of the Faculty, contains 48 short biographies of the deans in past and present.

The title reads: 80 Godina Veterinarskog fakulteta u Zagrebu 1919.-1999. Red. Tomislav Balenovic. Zagreb: Veterinarski fakultet, 1999. 91 p. ISBN 953-6062-18-6


Annual report 2005 of the Austrian national society

The Austrian Society of Veterinary History, being a section of the Austrian Society of Veterinarians, at present counts a membership of 22 persons.

Our society sustained a severe loss by the passing away of DDDr. Rudolf Rautschka, chemist, veterinarian and historian and one of the most skilled experts in the history of Austrian military veterinary service. In November the society hosted a small but well accepted symposium on the occasion of the publishing of a Middle-Armenian text book on equine medicine. As the contribution of R. Rautschka turned out to be his last published paper on veterinary history this meeting was also held in memory of our colleague.

During the year 2005 two theses on veterinary historical topics have been approved:

Nicola JUGLER: Die Tierseuchengesetzgebung und andere Maßnahmen der Tierseuchenbekämpfung von 1750-1780 im Vergleich der Herzogtümer Jülich und Berg mit den Habsburgischen Kronländern

Katrin TSCHACHLER: Die veterinärmedizinische Versorgung der Pferde des k. u. k. Heeres 1914 – 1918.

Additionally, in the journal of the Austrian Society of Veterinarians (Wiener Tierärztliche Monatsschrift) two papers on veterinary history appeared:

Ch. STANEK, Ch. MACHE, R. RAUTSCHKA: Die k. u. k. Tierärztliche Hochschule in Wien und der Ausbruch des Ersten Weltkrieges. WTM 92, 46-51.

A. PENGOV: Die Viehhaltung und das Veterinärwesen in der deutschen Sprachinsel Gottschee, WTM 92, 182-190


As of number 18 (1997) the title of the Society’s Newsletter has changed its title to Australian Veterinary History Record.

In nr.18 it is reported that the Austr. Vet. Hist. Soc. has taken custody of the historical segment (600 books and a large collection of reports and proceedings) of the Max Henry Memorial Library, that no longer will be maintained by the Austr. Vet. Assoc. and is donated to the Veterinary School of Zambia.

In the same issue there are articles by G.E. Fewster on the early history of the veterinary profession in Western Australia, and by B.A. Woolcock and R.J. Rogers on the early developement of veterinary services in Queensland.

In nr.19 is to be found an abridged version of the lecture on Ancient veterinary texts, given by Norman Comben at a conference in 1992.

Nr.20 has, next to a short report of our Vienna congress by John Fisher, reminiscences of A.E. Moore (1879-1963) who was a veterinary surgeon in the coastal area of New South Wales.

Nr.21 has three articles: the first by B. Woolcock presents six short biographies of veterinarians connected with the meat export whose names appear on the World War I Roll of Honour in the Customs House, Brisbane; the second is an impression, full of melancholy written in 1981, of a reunion at the occasion of the 2000th veterinary graduate of the Veterinary School of Sydney; and the third is on BSE by John Fisher, mainly according to his Vienna lecture, published in ARGOS, nr. 16 (1997).

Nr.22 presents notes, written by W.A.N. Robertson, in the 1930’s director of Veterinary Hygiene in the Commonwealth Department of Health, and engaged in the writing of an history of the veterinary profession in Australia, on Australian quarantine.

Nr.23 contains i.a. a paper given in 1998 by W.I.B. Beveridge on ‘Veterinary research in de 1930’s’, the golden era of research into diseases of farm animals in Australia. There is an account on the Australian Veterinary Association coat of arms, and data on the veterinarians who practised in South Australia in the 19th and beginning of the 20th century by W.S. Smith.

The liveliness of the Australian Veterinary History Society is reflected in the three bulletins (nrs. 24-26) published in 1999. The president, dr. Keith Baker, initiated several plans (oral history, fostering the reading by members of historical texts, the compilation of a book on Australian veterinary history). The treasurer reported that “the Society continues to be in a strong position” and the membership grew with 16, now totalling 111. For the contents of these and later issues of the Australian Veterinary History Record see under Veterinary History Journals.

Argentina – 2000

Osvaldo Antonio Pérez, president of the Asociación Argentina de Historia de la Veterinaria (ASARHIVE) writes:

The society that I preside over was founded on April, 25th, 1997 in Buenos Aires. It is part of the Argentine Society of Veterinary Medicine, and uses this society’s address: Chile 1856, (1277) Buenos Aires, República Argentina.

The address of the president is: San Nicolás 1436, (1407) Buenos Aires, and of the secretary, Dr. Faustino Carreras: Solis 887, (1686) Hurlingham, Provincia de Buenos Aires.

The society has now a membership of 26 members who are veterinarians, six members (“socios adherentes”) who are not veterinarians and five corresponding members (all from Spain).

Eight members are in the board of the society. The annual fee is 30 pesos. The emblem of the society shows Victor Zabala’s image, who is considered as the father of Argentine veterinary medicine. He lived from 1872-1919).

Each year a literary competion is written out for two categories, for advanced students and for professionals. The 1998 competition was won by Oscar J. Lombardero with a paper on the history of Argentine parasitology.

The society publishes a bi-monthly bulletin of eight pages each, distributed together with the periodical of the national veterinary society”.

ASARHIVE is maintaining a homepage on the internet with the address:

It contains: the aims of the society, the membership list, an index of articles published in the bulletin (that can be ordered online), addresses of veterinary schools and societies, news, links to other internet sites, pictures from the past. On the last mentioned page the cover is reproduced of the book by Osvaldo A. Pérez, Hombres, hechos y nombres de la Veterinaria Argentina (Men, facts and names of Argentine veterinary medicine). After clicking this picture the complete index with all the names of the people who were of any importance to veterinary medicine in the country is shown. The next step would be to make available the information itself, now still hidden behind the pagenumbers. Then Argentina would be the first country with a complete electronic dictionary of veterinary biography!

International Dictionary of Veterinary Biography

At Córdoba it was decided to start a working group in preparation of an international dictionary of veterinary biography. A ‘plan of operations’ was prepared which reads as follows:

The dictionary will include all deceased persons, veterinarians and non-veterinarians, who during their lifetime in one way or the other contributed to the development of veterinary medicine. People from all countries and from ancient times to date will be included.

The motto of the working group is: ‘better one person too much than one person missing’.

The objectives are:

  • to publish a book/CD ROM for reference and teaching purposes;
  • to include all relevant people as defined above;
  • to include pictures of the persons as far as available.

Co-ordinator of the project is Dr. Ivan Katic. Please direct all contributions and correspondence to him:

Dr. Ivan Katic
Søndergade 39
Viby, Sjælland, Denmark

In May 1988, an invitation was sent to National Veterinary Associations, National Societies for the History of Veterinary Medicine, Establishments of Veterinary Education, Veterinary Libraries and Veterinary Museums (all together 311 addresses) to compile a list with suggestions of deceased countrymen and -women who should be included in the dictionary and to present names of persons who could actively be involved in the composition of the dictionary. A questionnaire was enclosed in the mailing.