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Piet Vellema graduated from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, in 1980. After one year in mixed, mainly dairy cattle and sheep practice, he joined GD Animal Health, first in Drachten and later in Deventer. In 1996, he completed his PhD with his thesis on cobalt/vitamin B12 deficiency in lambs. Since 1997, he is registered as Specialist in Small Ruminant Health Care, and since April 2008, he is a Diplomate of the European College of Small Ruminant Health Management. Between April 1982 and May 2020, he was Head of the Department of Small Ruminant Health of Royal GD. In May 2020, Piet Vellema and René van den Brom have switched their position within this department of Royal GD.
Piet Vellema has interests in crisis management of outbreaks of infectious diseases, and in planned small ruminant health and production. From 1998 onwards, he is chairman of the Dutch Liver Fluke Forecast Committee, and between 2000 and 2006, he was project leader of the Dutch National Scrapie Plan, aiming at breeding for scrapie resistance. From 2004 onwards, he has participated in projects in Hungary, Romania, Poland, Italy, Germany, and Russia.
Piet Vellema has been member of the central crisis team during the foot-and-mouth disease epidemic (2001), and the bluetongue outbreak (2006) in the Netherlands. He has been member of the Q fever (2007-2010) Outbreak Management Team and member of the expert team Q fever, Schmallenberg virus, and Chlamydia abortus. From September 2013 onwards, he is a member of the Animal Diseases Expert Team of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. Between 2005 and 2011, he was a member of the board of the European College of Small Ruminant Health Management. Since 2017, he is Executive Committee Member of the International Sheep Veterinary Association. He is an active board member and committee member in other organizations, both within and outside the veterinary field.
Piet Vellema has published over ninety papers in scientific journals, over 250 articles in agricultural journals, and has given presentations on small ruminant health all over the world. He is first author of ‘Handboek schapeziekten’ and author of ‘Gezonde schapen’ (both books only available in Dutch).