Tuesday, March 31, 2015

KISC Veterinary Behaviour Conference

I had a great time at the second Košice International Student Conference weekend led by Chris from VetSchoolDiary; this year the topic was Veterinary Behaviour.

We had three world class speakers over from the UK and Netherlands; Valerie Jonckheer-Sheehy a European specialist in Veterinary Behaviour and founder of Animalytics, Kendal Shepherd author of the Canine Ladder of Aggression and Vet and Animal Behaviourist, as well as Vicky Halls RVN and Feline Behaviour Counsellor.

I volunteered to help out on the conference committee so Dan and I were on the registration desk trying to get through 200 people in half an hour...

I was in the Canine stream with Kendal Shepherd and really enjoyed the UK Dangerous Dogs Legislation lectures especially as there were lots of case studies of dogs she's worked with which really showed holes and flaws in the current laws.

On Sunday every delegate attending the conference was given a volume adjustable Multi-Clicker and Kendal did a hands on Clicker Training session with Astrid, Laura's dog which went down really well...

Sunday evening after the conference we took the speakers out for dinner to Rosto's Steakhouse and then to Collusseum for drinks 

Had an awesome weekend and I can't wait for next year - preparation for that begins in two weeks!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Hygiene & Welfare Trip; Enriched Cage Laying Hens

I have an exemption from Hygiene & Welfare as I covered the content in my previous degree and have worked on lots of farms but I tagged along to their trip today, to see chickens!

It was about an hours drive on a coach outside of Kosice and I was pleasantly surprised at how clean and modern the facilities were and at how healthy the chickens were.

They buy in hybrid chicks from a hatchery at day old which are put in the first shed to grow on until they reach POL (point of lay) at around 16 weeks old. Hybrid chickens are sex-linked which means the males and females hatch out a different colour so at a few hours old they are sexed, with females being kept and sold into the laying industry and males euthanised, usually by gas so they can be sold for reptile or falconry food or macerated in a high speed fan.

Laying hens are usually vaccinated against Newcastles Disease, Salmonella, Infectious Bronchitis (IB), Avian Rhinotracheitis (ART), Mycoplasma and Mareks Disease - these are done by injecting, adding to the water and spraying in a mist above the chicks.
The grower shed was really modern with enriched cages three stories high and around a dozen growers per cage. All feeding, watering and cleaning was mechanised with light and ventilation in the shed tightly controlled.

We weren't meant to but I took a couple growers out the cages to have a look at them and they looked really healthy, bright eyes with no discharge, clean feathers and really clean feet!
I noticed all the layers in the other sheds were Goldlines but in the grower sheds they had one whole row of caged with Light Sussex, Marans and White Stars and there were people coming with crates to buy those so they must rear hybrids to sell on to the public. There were also some fully grown Ross Cobb broilers which I asked if they were for meat but they couldn't really understand what I was asking.

Once the chicks reach POL they are then moved into one of the other sheds into enriched cages to start laying. These sheds were much brighter and had feed running down the middle of the cages rather than along the front, as there was a conveyor belt along the front for egg collection.
Interestingly there was a single strand of electric wire just above the gap the eggs roll under to stop the layers from egg pecking, something I'd not seen before.
The shed was really well ventilated, light and the girls looked pretty bright and well feathered.
I was less impressed with the next shed we went into which was much bigger and had older styles of cages, 7 stories high.
That sounds really judgemental and snobby which isn't what I mean but the birds were more cramped in these cages, they were all very bald and we noticed a few dead birds in the cages. I'm not sure how well the birds in the top row were monitored as it would be really impractical to check them all the way up there. There were loads of free range girls on the floor all the way along each row!

The eggs follow the conveyor belt all the way along from each shed, along belts and down into the packing station:
Here any obviously broken, cracked or misshaped eggs were removed by hand before going through the Moba Egg Grading Machine you can see below.
The machine candled the eggs with light to look for imperfections in the shell and removed these eggs.
Next up the eggs were stamped with the production system (0=Organic, 1=Free Range, 2=Barn, 3=Caged) and the producers code.
Then they were sorted by size and packed into trays of 30 and boxes of 6 or 12 for sending out to retail!

Overall I was impressed with how clean and modern it all was and I had expected much worse being out here in Eastern Europe but I guess after the EU legislation changed banning battery caged on 1st January 2012 they would have had to update all their cages to enriched anyway.
Bit of a contrast to Birchgrove, the Free Range egg farm we visited in Wales for my last degree.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Visit from Cody and Lynne

Cody and Lynne, friends from my first degree in Aberystwyth and who I lived with in first year, came out to visit Košice for 4 days and it was really nice to see them.

We went to the Zoo on Monday afternoon and we were the only people there!
It was a decent sunny day and considering it's only €1.50 to get in with a student card, apart from the zoo it's a nice place with really nice views to go for a walk.

We went out for food and drinks every night and on Tuesday ended up in a karaoke bar singing Slovak songs - nothing about this place surprises me anymore.

Best friends...

Really glad they came to visit and I think they enjoyed it - hopefully get them out here earlier next year and take them skiing!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Luna the Barn Own

We've had the Barn Owl a week now and she is much better than she was last week but still very nervous.
We've been spending a few hours with her each day sat on the glove walking round campus so she gets more used to being with people as well as seeing the other birds and animals.
She's not been toe dusting or baiting off the glove as much as she was and if she does bait, she rights herself and jumps back on the glove instead of hanging upside down. 
She had been refusing food all last week but finally ate a whole chick cut up into chunks yesterday sat on my glove, then today she took some pigeon from Lucy's hand and off the glove.

She tends to bow a little and scan you from side to side with her eyes, especially when you have food - even when it's on the glove in front of her sometimes she has bad aim and misses it. We're unsure if this is normal behaviour for her or something slightly neurological because none of the previous owls in the club have displayed this.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

I took the owl for a walk around campus this afternoon and saw these cutesters...

Friday, March 13, 2015

Diseases of Fish

We had an extra long practical for Diseases of Fish today as we learnt all about the anatomy of fish and did lots of dissections.
I may have been slightly drunk as I had friends visiting from home and we were out until a couple house before the practical.

Anyway, the dissections...

We even had a sting ray which was pretty awesome...

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Anatomy II; Splanchnology

We have Anatomy 2 this semester, starting with Splanchnology (study of visceral organs) which has been much more interesting.
We have credit tests every Wednesday instead of Thursday but I keep forgetting it's changed and still leave revision until Tuesday night.
I got an A in Abdominal Cavity of the pig and ruminants last week and a C in the Liver and Intestines of the horse this week.

Next week we move on to the Urinary System and Kidneys...

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Manning the Barn Owl

I spent 3 hours down at Falconry this afternoon sat in the sunshine getting our new Barn Owl used to being around people and comfortable sitting on the glove.

She's much calmer than she was yesterday but still baited (tried to fly) off the glove a few times and needs a lot more time spending with her.

She was also "toe dusting" which is a defensive or nervous behaviour towards people, bowing her head down to her toes, shaking it as if to say no.
I did some research and read they can also click their beak and hiss if they feel threatened but she's not been doing that, which I guess is a good sign.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Vaginal Smears

Today, we learnt how to do Vaginal Smears...

In our Physiology practical we learnt how to do vaginal smears on dogs and practiced on mice.
I'm not a mouse but it wasn't as bad as it sounds, we used tiny cotton buds and the mice didn't notice in the slightest.

Once the smear was taken it was streaked onto a microscope slide, stained and observed under the microscope.
Depending on the types of cells (basal, parabasal, intermediate or keratinized) we were able to determine at which phase of the iestrus cycle the mouse was in; Anoestrus, early or late Proestrus, Oestrus or Metestrus/Diestrus.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Barn Owl

Falconry Club were given a new bird today, a young Barn Owl.
We don't know how old she is or her previous history, not even sure she's a girl but that's what the vets called her so we're going with that for now. She was really dirty when they picked her up from the clinic, presumably from the way she was transported, so she looks a bit scruffy.

She's really nervous and obviously never been handled so the girls put jesses (soft leather leg tethers) on her legs and perched her inside.
Once I'd finished feeding MC I sat inside with the owl on my glove for an hours just to get her used to people, which is called manning.

Michelle said she'd like me and Barbora to work with her so I'm really excited about having a new bird to work with!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Photos with friends

Jasmine's photos from the week my friends and I visited Košice and Tatranska Lomnica.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Ski Weekend in Tatranska Lomnica

I've had the best weekend skiing with friends in Tatranska Lomnica, a resort in the Slovak part of the High Tatras mountains.

Four friends from home flew into Košice on Friday, we went for lunch in Napoli and then got the train to the Tatras with six other friends from vet school.
As I'm a student under 26 I get free train travel in Slovakia, the others only had to pay €5 for the ticket, a 120km journey via Poprad.

We booked an apartment called Wili Tatry which was a couple minutes walk from the train station and supermarket, with the ski lift less than a kilometres walk away.

Cable car up to Lomnicky štít

There are 9 lifts and 12 slopes which meet in similar places at the bottom of the mountain meaning people can choose which runs they want to ski and meet the group at the bottom.
I stuck to blue and red trails 1,751m high but Niall and Lena went for the 2,190m high black slope!

Après Ski on the slopes

We went out for food and drinks every night and on Saturday went to Humno Tatry, a club who's main selling point was that they had Madonna's Cadillac suspended from the roof, which ended up being a really good night.
We read online that the locals dubbed it, 'Club Tropicana' 'cos drinks are almost free.
We stayed out until 5am so the planned up and on the slopes by 8:30am became more like 11:30 after I cooked us all scrambled eggs on toast. We still had a good few hours skiing, though Mika and Jasmine only made it down the slopes once on a hangover.

I had a great time and was really nice to have 5 days with friends from home, can't wait for them to visit again and we'll definitely be back skiing next year!