This blog is essentially classified as our diary, so… here’s a bit about my day.  Pardon me if it’s boring to you.

Monday and Tuesday were spent getting to know a bit about the campus, our program coordinators, and each other.  (There are almost 40 students, and we better be happy with each other, as our one prof said, because we’ll be in each other’s pockets for the next four years.)

Today, the third day of orientation week, still isn’t officially classed as a school day, but we did go out to UCD’s farm.  This research farm has around 80 dairy cows, 300 ewes, and a dozen or so mares.  For orientation, we needed to do some animal handling in preparation for what is known as extra mural studies (in our case, this means working on various farms for a few weeks).  Today my group worked with cows, tomorrow we hang out with some sheep, and on Friday we get kicked by horses.

(Yes, that’s indicative of certain biases I have toward certain species.)

I am naive and ignorant.  Undergrad has taught me that you learn theory for years before you do anything practical, but hey, I guess this is grad school.  It’s supposed to be practical.  Considering that we’ve had no theory classes, today seemed quite, well, strange.  We’re thrown into the thick of things and expected to absorb it all!  Here are some of my day’s highlights, and yes, Conrad and Dad, you would have giggled most horribly watching me do some of these things.

  • stand beside the animal and stick my hand into its mouth or nose to wrestle its head to the side
  • do the above with my left hand while shooting a bolus down its throat (behind its tongue) with my right
  • a lot of wrestling cattle in a “race” (chute thingamajig) to get their head up, nose tong on, and then douse them orally
  • collect blood sample from the jugular
  • subcutaneous and intramuscular injections
  • run a really cool, high-tech Dairymaster hydraulic “crush”
  • various techniques to ensure the cow can’t kick you when you’re collecting a milk sample if the cow is mastitic
  • collect a milk sample; yes, I honestly do know how to get a bit of milk; clamp, massage, release, etc., etc.
  • insert a mouth gag

This last one is pretty cool!  A mouth gag will keep the animal’s mouth open when you need to reach down the esophagus or insert a breathing tube (which is quite fragile).  It’s a grooved piece of metal that slides between the upper and lower molars on the one side; if you reef it far enough back into the mouth, the animal can’t spit it out.

The vet demonstrated some routine paring of the hooves, too, but we didn’t get a chance to try that.

Sadly, this amateur bovine A. I. technician only got to work on the front end of the cow, not the back end.  Oh, well, some people wouldn’t be sad over that.

Tomorrow should be good, too.  Other than that sheep are often whitish, normally wooly creatures that are just a little larger than a Rottweiler, and Kevin taught me that sheep are ruminants, I know next to nothing about them!

~ 09250761

P.S. From what I hear, we actually spend little time on the research farm.  I guess we’re given a crash course in animal handling because this is, after all, a course in veterinary medicine, and we’re expected to do some work on farms.  Next year we’re expected to spend around eight weeks working for local farmers, and the school doesn’t want us to give them an bad name!

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