The Stockyards in Checotah echo with never-ending moos.
Sometimes, somebody whoops. Another yells “He-yaaugh!” to get the cows going.
Dr. Matthew Walkup pays no attention. The veterinarian and his assistant Jaclyn Mendenhall go about their business, testing heifers and bulls.
He checks the heifers’ age by looking at the wear on their teeth.
He checks their ears for U.S. Department of Agriculture identification.
He checks to see whether the heifers are pregnant by sticking a hand inside their bodies, feeling for a calf.
Walkup checks the amount and quality of the bulls’ sperm, using equally intensive means.
As for the nonstop noise ...
“I hardly even notice it,” said Walkup, a Muskogee veterinarian who deals entirely with farm animals and large livestock.
Walkup, 32, grew up liking that noise.
“I always say that I wanted to be a cattleman or a veterinarian,” he said. “And now I worked my way up to do both. My family and I run a small farm. This has always been a dream.”
Meet Dr. Matthew Walkup
CAREER: Large animal veterinarian.
EDUCATION: Hilldale High School, 1998; Connors State College, Oklahoma State University, Veterinary degree OSU, 2006.
FAMILY: Wife, Rebecca.
CHURCH: Southeast Baptist Church.
Q and A
HOW DID YOU COME TO BE AN OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE?
“I was born and raised here and when I graduated from college, I went to Blackwell, where my wife is from. In order to pursue my career and help my family out, I came back home.”
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT MUSKOGEE?
“My family is here.”
WHAT WOULD MAKE MUSKOGEE A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE?
“I don’t know if I look at Muskogee that way. It is a little town where people need to learn to get along with each other.”
HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP MUSKOGEE?
“For a young couple with no kids, there is not a lot going on.”
WHAT OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE HAD THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR LIFE?
“Definitely my father. He is a man of integrity, a man with a strong work ethic. He always pushed me to be my best and backed me in everything I did.”
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE THING TO HAPPEN TO YOU?
“The Cowboys for Christ meeting at Oklahoma State University. That was when I met my wife. I was at OSU and I met her, a north central Oklahoma wheat farm girl.”
love the ag life
Being a farm veterinarian was a most unusual dream for a boy growing up in suburban Muskogee.
So, where did this love of agriculture and heifers come from?
Matthew Walkup attended Hilldale Public Schools, which had no agriculture education program. He said he never belonged to 4-H or FFA, never showed an animal at a junior livestock show.
The Walkups had a small acreage south of Muskogee while young Matthew grew up.
“All sides of my family had been involved in agriculture,” Walkup said, recalling that his father was a real estate agent.
However, Walkup points to one main source for his love of farming.
“All my ag training came from my mother’s parents in Keefeton,” he said. “They had a dairy, and they had beef cattle. They were always an influence on my life.”
Walkup recalls going to his grandparents’ dairy to work.
“My fondest memories were helping my Paw Paw feed cattle. I was about 8 or 9 years old,” he said. “I remember trying to keep the feed bucket in the trailer from spilling.”
Walkup said his Paw Paw would drive the tractor out to the cattle. Young Matthew would ride in a bouncy trailer in back, hanging on to the feed bucket.
“My job was to keep the feed bucket from falling over. It wasn’t easy,” he said.
The family had pasture at the top of Warner Mountain in southern Muskogee County.
“Sometimes, he’d drive off the mountain as fast as he could go,” Walkup said. “We always had spring and fall roundup. It was all pretty normal.”
have different ways
As a farm veterinarian, Walkup logs plenty of miles on his pickup.
“I’ve gone as far north as Vinita, as far south as Bokoshe,” he said. “I regularly cover an area from Wagoner to Stigler, Morris to Fort Gibson.”
Walkup is a veterinarian at the Stigler Livestock Auction and at Checotah. He checks heifers and bulls to see how ready they are for sale.
“We usually do 30 to 40 cows and bulls at Checotah,” he said. “At Stigler, we do around 100.”
Walkup said cattle are his favorite animals to treat.
“I can read them better,” he said. “It’s like reading a person. It’s in the body language and the eyes.”
Horses are the most challenging, but not because of the animals themselves, he said.
“Horses now are pretty much pets,” Walkup said.
Pigs also can be a challenge. For one thing, they don’t stay still.
“The problem with pigs is that they’re smarter than some people,” Walkup said. “They’re extremely smart, and they catch on really quickly about what you’re trying to do. And they will keep you from doing it.”
A future in the
When he’s not doing his veterinary work, Walkup spends time on a 320-acre spread south of Muskogee where he raises cattle.
“We have about 53 mama cattle, and with 53 mamas, you need two bulls,” he said.
These are simply commercial cattle, not a specific breed.
Walkup, who lives in a south Muskogee housing addition, said he goes out to feed the cattle every other day during winter. In summer, the cattle graze, he said.
He said his wife, Rebecca, helps out with the cattle. The couple met at a Cowboys for Christ meeting at Oklahoma State University.
“She is a partner, she jumps right in and helps,” he said.
Walkup said he has been building his herd for about eight years. He said he hopes to add to his herd and his spread, once he gets enough time and money.
“The question is, in 20 years, where will I be,” he said. “Eight years is a minimal time in the cattle business.”
Walkup said he has no immediate plans to have kids. Again, he hopes to be more settled.
He said that if kids are part of his future, he won’t pressure them into ag education.
“If my sister had been forced into FFA in high school, there would have been a riot,” he said. “If I had been forced into FFA by my parents, I might not have thought it was a fun thing.”