Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Anatomy of Domestic Birds

In Anatomy this week we learnt about the anatomy of domestic birds; pigeons, chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese.

It was interesting seeing the differences and I knew most of the parts and organs in English but obviously not Latin. 
I guess it helps because I've prepared a lot of dinner chickens and we prepare pigeons for Falconry every day.

We then had chickens to dissect, my group know I like (am obsessed with) chickens so I did most of the dissection...

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Summer EMS Placements

I've been busy updating my CV this weekend to make it all veterinary focused and condensing it from 3 and a half to two pages in order to try and sort some EMS (Extra-Mural Studies) placements this summer.

Information I found online says UK vet students roughly have to do:
- Preclinical EMS Phase (Years 1 & 2) minimum of 12 weeks:
      2 weeks Lambing
      2 weeks Dairy
      2 weeks Pig or Poultry
      2 weeks Equine
      2 weeks Veterinary Hospital/Vet Nursing
      2 weeks free choice
- "Preparatory" Clinical EMS Phase (Year 3) around 6 weeks.
- Clinical EMS Phase (Years 4 & 5) minimum 20 weeks.

Ideally I'd like to follow that but we're limited out here in that I'd do mojority of my placements in the UK and we don't have an Easter holiday to go Lambing.
Though saying that, I've done 8 years of Lambing and quite a bit with Poultry so it would probably be more beneficial for me to get equine and large animal placements.

I've sent a few emails to vets asking for placements over summer and so far I have arranged a week in a small animal clinic, another small animal and then a week in an equine veterinary centre which will be really good as I've not really done much equine.
I'm struggling to find a Large Animal practice near home because we don't really have the demand for it in Birmingham, there are a few in Staffordshire I can email and I've love to go back to Ystwyth in Aber, would just need to find accomodation.

I've also emailed Twycross Zoo about a placement for summer 2016 and they've fully booked until February next year - that would be a three week placement, hopefully spent in the Veterinary Centre as by then I'd be approaching my 5th-post BSc year.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Hygiene & Welfare Trip; Pigs

I tagged along to the Hygiene & Welfare trip again today, to visit a pig farm about an hour away from Kosice which they said was a poor example but it had all stages we needed to see; natural breeding, farrowing, weaning, pre-fattening and fattening.
Most places nowadays will use AI, farrow on site then send the piglets off for weaning and fattening so it was good to see it all together.

All the pigs are Middle Whites, a quick growing, early maturing breed with apparently excellent flavour and a lightweight carcass.
The piglets are given constant access to feed and water from day one with heat lamps for the first few days, though there wasn't much ventilation in the shed so it was very warm in their anyway. They are vaccinated and have ears tattooed at a young age, though I didn't ask what they're vaccinated against.

After 28 days the piglets are weaned and castrated and moved to another building for pre-fattening, then finally fattening in small groups. In theory it's an all in-all out system where everything is washed and disinfected between litters but it didn't look like anything had been cleaned in a long time.
Once they reach 110kg liveweight they are sent to slaughter.

After her piglets are weaned, the sows are then moved to these small crates for 21 days while they get back into oestrus before being put back with a boar for mating and placed in a bigger pen for gestation; 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days.
Sows usually have 5 or 6 litters before their milk quality decreases meaning piglets don't thrive, making it economically unviable to keep them so they are sent to slaughter and gilts (young females) are chosen from the younger pigs to replace them.

We had stud boars at the farm I worked at in Aberystwyth which were kept immaculately in brand new modern buildings which you had to have a shower and put on a clean boiler suit to even enter so this was a stark contrast to that. Those boars had semen collected which was looked at in a lab, chilled and sent off to various breeding units around the UK once a week.
The other pig production unit I've spent time on was a huge free range outdoor unit in Cambridge where they use AI, sows farrow outdoors and the piglets are kept outside in groups until slaughter with lots of space to run around and wallow.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Falconry Weight Management

We weigh and perch out all the birds every morning so we can keep an eye on their condition and for training purposes.
We have charts for each bird with the date, weight, feed given (and weight of feed), how they worked and any other comments - it's really useful to look back at how they've come on over the last few months and at what weights they have worked best.
Once you've been on a bird for a while you get to know their flying weight so that they are keen to fly but not underweight which can be dangerous and make the bird weak.
At the right weight she'll be reaponsive, motivated and come to the glove when called; if she's overweight she won't be hungry and will often sit on her perch or wait around for a few seconds before coming after being called.

Františka flys best at around 950g but back in September she was 1300g so we cut her food intake and started working with her to the point that she will now free fly and recall to the fist.

We're having to fly the birds later in the afternoon now it's getting hotter as they don't cope very well. 
When it gets really hot, 30oC plus, we'll perch them out early and late but keep them in their news between 11am and 3pm.

Monday, April 20, 2015


One of the advantages to living in Central Europe is how easy and cheap it is to travel so this weekend I did just that.

Me, Jack a friend from home and Niall originally planned to go to Prague but ended up visiting three cities instead.

On Thursday we caught the night train to Bratislava which took 7 hours and was free for me as a student under 26 studying in Slovakia.
We had a carriage to ourselves which had 6 beds in it, I don't think we were meant to use the beds 'cos we got shouted at by the conductor a few times ...not that we understood a word of what she was saying!
We arrived in Bratislava the capital of Slovakia early in the morning and after seeing a few homeless guys fighting in the street we headed to the only place which was open, McDonalds.
Poshest Maccies I've ever been to...

We spent the morning in Bratislava, saw everything we wanted to see (which took all of an hour), spent a few hours in a shopping mall and headed back to the train station.
Not sure where to go next, the cheapest and most convenient place to get to was Brno so we booked the Student Agency Bus which had free refreshments, wifi and touchscreens in the seat infront of you and off we went.

When we arrived in Brno we checked into a hostel Hostel Eleven and got on the tram to check out the vet school.

The VFU Brno campus was amazing, modern buildings spread across a big campus with lots of stables and an indoor riding school.
Their Avian Clinic was awesome with flights and aviaries along one side of the building- would love to have facilities like that at UVM!
The weather took a turn for the worse so we took shelter in the pub, naturally before heading back into town.
Brno city centre seemed a similar size but much more spread out rather than one main street of Košice as we walked around the castle, cathedral and main squares.

Walking around we struggled to find somewhere to eat and it seemed really quiet considering it was a Friday evening but on recommendation from a friend we found Stopkova restaurant. I had gnocchi with chicken and spinach which was really good!
After we'd eaten there were a lot more people out and about so we went for a few drinks before trying to find Charlie's Head and "The bar which doesn't exist".

We woke up early on Saturday, went for breakfast, shopped, wondered around town and back to the coach station where planned to get the 3pm coach to Vienna but as the 1 o'clock was only 150 Czech Koruna (€5) we booked that and left early.

Austria was beautiful driving through the countryside and seemed completely different landscape compared with Slovakia and the Czech Republic - vineyards on the hills and lots of wind turbines.
The coach took less than two hours from Brno to Vienna and as there was free wifi we booked a hostel in advance near to the train station.

After checking in we hired bikes for a few hours to try and see as much as we could in as little time; they work the same way as the Boris bikes in London, pay €1 for the day and they're then free to use for 1 hour at a time. We saw the town hall, museums, Kunst Messe, Opera house and stopped for a drink in Stadtpark.


On Saturday night we went for food at Vapianos where Niall had been banging on about going for days and it lived up to the expectation.
There's different counters for pizza, salad, pasta and desert, you choose what you'd like to order and everything is cooked right in front of you while you wait.
I had Estiva pasta which is chicken, garlic, chilli, ginger, mint and rocket which was reeeeally tasty and the Weissbier was good too!
We stayed out drinking Guinness in an Irish bar and then cycled back to the hostel.

On Sunday we caught the 8am train back via Bratislava where we grabbed food and arrived back in Košice at around 4pm.
Really glad we did it and we're already planning our next trip. I'd like to go to Krakow to see Auschwitz and then maybe next year do Prague, Berlin and Amsterdam!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Last minute revision

Ina snapped this photo of us all cramming last minute revision in before today's Diseases of Bees exam!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

RIP Luna the Barn Owl

Sadly Luna the Barn Owl passed away unexpectedly this week.
She was very weak one afternoon so brought in to the care box but died overnight.
One of the Vets did a post mortem which showed that not only was she a male but she died of suspected clostridium poisoning. They didn't see any spores so think he may have come to us immunosuppressed and this was a secondary reason, it may also explain some of the strange behaviours and toe dusting.

We're going to have to be doubly careful with food from now on and make sure all the pigeons are fully eviscerated and frozen for a month before being fed to the birds.

AkvaTera Košice

This morning I went with friends to an Aqua Terra exhibition and sale organised by AkvaTera.
Slovakia and Czech Republic are really into their exotics and aquarium fish with Czech being one of the biggest exporters of tropical fish in the world, nearly 30 million US dollars worth!

We arrived not really knowing what to expect at 11am (it opened at 9am) to queues of people outside - we queued for about 20 minutes, paid our €1 entrance and went inside...
The hall was full of tables of snakes, lizards, spiders and insects all in handy little pots and containers with prices ready to be bought and taken home.
There were lots of tortoise hatchlings with Hermanns, Horsfields and Leopards with prices from €20 (£14) upwards!
I paid £195 for Hughie my Hermanns tortoise around 10 years ago.

The terrariums and vivariums they had for sale were awesome, either empty or already decked out with shelves, caves and light fittings.
It doesn't look very big in the photo but I spotted this which would be awesome for a Leopard Gecko for €18.

Sarah was really tempted to buy a lizard or tortoise but she'd not really thought it through so will do some research and come back in September when she's decided what she can do with it long term and during the holidays.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Back to The Oaks

While I was home I thought it would be a good idea to see some practice, my first EMS as a vet student, just to remind me why I was at vet school and keep me motivated for the final half of this semester before the dreaded Finals!

I texted a friend who's a small animal vet at The Oaks, the first place I ever saw practice at, asking what days they were open over Easter and if it would be possible to spend a day with them - the reply came quickly that I could go the day after I got home, Thursday.

I arrived at 8am ready for consults to start at 8:30am where we had post-op checks, vaccinations and a dog who had just gone off his feet who Andy admitted for a neurological examination.

I then went out back to once prep and theatre started; the board was pretty full and Brian was doing most of the operations today.
We started off with two Fine Needle Aspirates (FNA's) on dogs, both which appeared to be fatty lumps rather than anything sinister but were sent off to the lab which can help make a diagnosis or rule out more sinister things like cancer.
Brian stressed the importance of taking true representations of the lumps, swap needles between each biopsy and importance of labelling slides correctly!

Next up we had neuters for a local cat charity - two castrates, one of which came in as a possibly pregnant feral cat but turned out to be a quite friendly little man, followed by a spay on a young female who once turned out to be pregnant once we'd opened her up. 
I've seen pregnant cats spayed before so when Brian asked what I thought about the ethics I was ready with an answer; the procedure is being done for birth control purposes so leaving her to have the kittens on the street would only make this situation worse as not only would she have more kittens in the future but so would her kittens continue the cycle as there's no guarantee that she would be trapped again in order to be speyed in the future.

Before he started the spey Brian the vet asked if I'd like him to talk me through the op, I said I'd seen loads before so he was ok, he double checked I was sure, yep... and so said I had to talk him through what he was doing!
Luckily we did the female urogenital tract in Anatomy last week so it was fresh in my mind and I remembered the abdominal muscles as he was cutting through those. He pointed out that I was naming everything in Latin rather than English and I think (hope!) he was impressed that I could name all the structures.
Andy asked me later on about the endocrine system and although I've done it all before it was years ago and I didn't have a clue! Once he explained it came straight back to me and made sense but I wouldn't have been able to come up with the answers by myself...

It looked like they were getting through the ops board just fine when a cat was admitted in a diabetic or hypoglycemic crisis. He looked a lot better than he had at home where he was circling around the living room, but we took a blood glucose and got a reading of 3.2; it should be between 5 and 15.
He was really cold so put in a cat kennel with a heat pad, some warmed smelly cat food to tempt him and we would repeat blood glucose an hour later.

The last op of the day was a dental on an English Bull Terrier with Cushings disease which is an endocrine disorder usually caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland which causes an excess of cortisone in the blood, affecting metabolism. Because of this they wanted to closely monitor her throughout the anesthesia and keep her on a drip to support the kidneys. 
They really struggled to place a catheter to get the drip in, tried both legs, took a break and then tried again - it said in her notes from 2 years ago that they really struggled back then too.
I monitored her heart and respiratory rates throughout the scale and polish and although they were lower or slower than expected, she was stable throughout and recovered just fine.

The diabetic cats blood glucose stabilised and as he was on insulin they adjusted his medication and timing and were going to monitor it closely for a while.

I really enjoyed the day and felt like I was able to help out and be useful rather than getting in the way, holding animals while they were injected or sedated, wiping down consult tables, helping to pre-med animals with the nurses before surgery and cleaning theatre ready for the next op.

Mrs Clarence the Kestrel

Love this photo of MC the female kestrel. 

We made new mews for her as she'll be in there free flying over summer and she seems pretty happy with the upgrade...