Friday, March 17, 2017

Farm trips

This week we've had two trips to the university farm which is 45 mins away by coach and means getting up early as we leave at 7:15! The weather has been great, sunny and pushing 16oC so it's nice to get outside in the fresh air and practical stuff is always fun.

On Tuesday we were blood sampling and vaccinating cattle against trichophytosis which is an infectious skin disease commonly known as ringworm. The cows were vaccinated two and four weeks ago so the bloods we took will be titre tested to see how effective the vaccination course has been.
Today we were working with small ruminants (sheep and goats) doing much the same.
First we had to collect blood samples to test for Brucella, then we did the California Milk Test to look for mastitis and hoof trimming for those which needed it. Finally we did intradermal tuberculin tests for TB.

One of the ewes had a wound on her leg which looked like a blunt trauma, maybe from a gate or hayrack. We cleaned and flushed it with Betadine and saw that there was a yellow fibrinous mass deep inside so we debrided it to encourage wound healing and flushed again.
One of the Professors came over and said he was "very impressed" with my hoof trimming and asked if I have sheep at home; I was secretly chuffed that all those years of lambing paid off!
I kind of take it for granted having worked with sheep for quite a few years on work experience and during my undergrad but other people who are focussed on working with small animals have never really had the opportunity. Teachers here will often assume basic knowledge and won't re-cap procedures or handling techniques which we might have talked about in a lecture 2 years ago unless asked, so people can miss out.

One of the girls was criticising they way we tip the sheep (making them sit on their bums) but they're easily restrained in one movement and they don't struggle once sat so while there will be some degree of stress from any restraint, there is no pain and it gets the job done quickly and efficiently.
Goats aren't as easy to tip as they're more athletic and stressy than sheep but can still be done, you just tip them further onto their back like we've done above - being careful of horns! We were able to blood sample, examine udders, CMT and hoof trim in less than 5 minutes and the goat didn't struggle.

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