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Fourth Year Calving Experience

Wow, time flies. It was not so long ago that I saw the “wise, old” fourth years headed off on their calving roster and thinking that I had ages to go before getting to that stage. For the past two weeks, the current fourth years have all been out experiencing life as a dairy vet in various parts of the country. I ventured to Southern Taranaki and was lucky enough to fall right in the peak of the calving season. It was such an amazing opportunity to get hands on experience trying to picture the presentation of the calf from just what you can feel, then on to repositioning it and further on to place the fetotomy wire. There are many joys of being a dairy vet including, but not limited to:

  • Having your arms (shoulder deep in fact) in a warm cow while the others around, ready to assist you, are freezing their fingers off in the icy wind or sleeting rain.

  • Being covered in cow poo and nobody even mentions a thing.

  • Being able to remove an emphysematous calf that has swollen to almost double its original size from inside a cow (but let’s not mention having to wear that awful rotten smell for the rest of the day).

  • Doing C-sections to remove a five legged schistosome on a standing cow.

And on the odd occasion that I did see, a live calf, feeling it kick back at you or suck your finger when you try to reposition it, being able to get it out in time and see it getting up by the time you leave – so very exciting.

One of my favourite experiences from the time away did not have to with calving; unfortunately a farm had a number of cows diagnosed with Theileria the day before we finished, but this gave us an opportunity to assist in two blood transfusions just to conclude an amazing 2 weeks. We collected blood from 2 bulls, mixed it in a bucket with sodium citrate and transferred it into weed sprayer (!), in order to pump it into the severely anaemic cow. WOW. Cows. Are. Amazing! And now here I am back from 2 weeks in the Naki energised and enthused to keep persevering on with my studies and excited for all the practical experience that fifth year holds.

Written by Joanna Paine.



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