Dairy Cattle Production Specialist Joins VERO Faculty At Texas A&M’s Canyon Campus

Story by Courtney Price, VMBS Communications

Dr. Michael Kleinhenz in front of a herd of dairy cattle
Dr. Michael Kleinhenz

Many people who work in the agriculture industry have a farming background; others find their way to this community through their love for animals, science, or, sometimes, both.

Despite growing up in rural Ohio, Dr. Michael Kleinhenz’s family didn’t own a farm. But that didn’t stop him from discovering a love for dairy cows at a young age.

“The dairy industry always fascinated me as a kid, so I started milking cows in high school,” said Kleinhenz, who is now a dairy cattle production veterinarian. “I’ve always enjoyed them. They’re such an interactive species to watch. Anytime I can go hang around with cows, I’m a happy person.”

As the newest faculty member at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (VMBS) Veterinary Education, Research, & Outreach (VERO) campus in the Texas Panhandle, Kleinhenz hopes to continue blending his passion for veterinary medicine with pharmacology, another passion he discovered along the way, to continue improving the health of dairy cattle throughout the industry.

The Best Of Both Worlds

Kleinhenz, who has his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (DVM) from The Ohio State University, has been hanging around dairy cows since the early 1990s. 

“I did my undergraduate in dairy sciences and worked with dairy production when I was in private practice. I even did a residency in dairy production,” he said. “So, I’m really interested in anything that has to do with dairy cow health and increasing production.” 

After several years in private practice, Kleinhenz went back to school for another residency, motivated by his new passion for pharmacology. As part of the residency, he completed a Ph.D. in pharmacology at Kansas State University, where he joined the faculty.

“As a clinical pharmacologist, I’m always interested in anything that has to do with how we use drugs to treat health issues in dairy cows,” he said. “When to use drugs, which one to use, how to choose the right dosage — I’m interested in all of those kinds of questions.”

Kleinhenz has an ongoing research project with K-State faculty that looks at meloxicam, an anti-inflammatory drug commonly used to treat arthritis, and how it’s absorbed by the cells of different bovine species. 

“We’re currently looking at Angus, Holsteins, and Brahman breeds to see how meloxicam interacts with pain-reducing drugs following surgical castration,” Kleinhenz said. “This will allow us to better tailor analgesic regimens to specific breeds of cattle.” 

In addition to his pharmacological work, Kleinhenz is interested in lameness and cattle hoof care.

“My wife and I had a hoof trimming business for a while,” he said. “We trimmed hooves for local dairy farms in Ohio.”

Dr. Michael Kleinhenz in front of the VERO building

Kleinhenz has also done research on novel methods of pain prevention in cattle.

“I’m interested in how cannabinoids and industrial hemp can be added to feed to reduce things like pain or travel stress,” he said. “Industrial hemp has potential to be an excellent feed for ruminants like cattle, but there is a lot of work to do yet. The cannabinoids present a challenge in terms of food safety, but our work shows they have great potential for stress reduction.” 

For Kleinhenz, joining the faculty at VERO was an ideal choice for someone who works with food animals and wants to be part of cutting-edge research.

“I decided to join the VERO team because of its proximity to the dairy industry in the Texas Panhandle,” Kleinhenz said. “Canyon is the beating heart of the Texas dairy industry, so it’s the perfect place to do research and train future food animal veterinarians.”

Home On The High Plains

When he’s not at work, Kleinhenz enjoys spending time with his family and riding horses. He also loves to cook.

“I joke with people that we don’t go out to dinner much, but it’s because I enjoy trying to make restaurant-quality food at home,” he said. “It’s fun to see what you can make with what you already have.”

Kleinhenz said he’s enjoyed his time in Canyon so far and looks forward to serving at Texas A&M alongside his wife. 

“My wife, who is an anatomic pathologist, works at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL), which is next door,” he said. “Moving to Canyon was a wonderful opportunity for both of us and we’re thrilled to be here.”


For more information about the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of VMBS Communications, Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu, 979-862-4216

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