Genetics, Milk Tasting, Blood and Bone Marrow…(Day 39)

My first blood sample from a cow in vet school

Today has been amazing! I don’t know exactly where to start so I guess I will start at the beginning! Genetics started with more on the chromosome (it is a rather large and complex yet crucial part of all things living) and mapping of it, to put it simply if each strand of DNA was unravelled it would be over 2m long, yet fits into a structure of just micrometers…

After this it was time for milk hygiene, today was looking at mastitis and then the different nutritional properties of milk (fat content, protein, lactose etc) with the processing methods and how this affects the taste.

The most basic test for mastitis can be carried out on the farm and involves taking a small amount of milk and mixing it with the same amount of Mastitis test solution which will become a gelatinous mass if positive (like as follows)

Milk with mastitis test solution
Milk with mastitis test solution

We had four different samples to work from, 3 of which where UHT (Ultra High Temperature treated) milk which means that the milk was steralised by boiling at over 135 degress with full fat, semi-skinned and skinned  samples of this milk. We then also had a sample of semi-skinned pasteurised milk which was heat treated at 72 degrees for a minimum of 25 seconds to kill of any harmful bacteria. Now its logical that when you heat milk, you cook it which may change the content, smell, look and flavour. I personally found the UHT samples had a stronger smell, and a much stronger taste compared to the pasteurised sample. In the UK it is more common for milk to be pasteurised which whilst it has a shorter shelf life, it does contain more natural goodness in proteins and vitamins than UHT milk as the temperature also removes some of these from UHT in addition to bacteria. Considering its always been a something I’ve never actually thought about it definately has given me some food for thought. Now towards the end of this practical we had a stream of horses and riders go past the lab window. So once it ended I went to find out more…

This was the Hubert Ride to celebrate Saint Hubert the patron saint of hunting, now the ceremony was in Slovak so I did not understand much of it, however the horses were definately beautiful to look at!

Ardo with Saint Huberts Ride SlovakiaAnd there was a horse drawn carriage as well for the important people (who I did not recognise and who were not introduced) to arrive in. A speech was then given which was probably heard only by those giving it as no sound system was used.

Saint Hubert SpeechWe decided to leave here as there is only so much time you can spend looking at horses and we needed to get some wellies for the genetics practical. We managed to find a hardware store which had them relatively cheap (at 9 euros) so got these and then headed back to grab overalls for the practical.

This afternoons session was on the sampling of blood and bone marrow from the cow for chromosomal analysis. Something I was really pleased with was that there was an additional independant vet from outside the university (and in fact from a different country as well) to ensure the welfare of the animals used in the practical was maintained. Obviously as vet students there is a need to work with animals, however before doing so today we had a lecture, then a demonstration of the bone marrow technique in the anatomy museum, before then also a demonstration on a live animal.

The first sampling technique was that for blood collection from the jugular vein, the hair was clipped and the skin cleaned before collection to prevent infection. I struggled initially as I did not realise how deep under the skin the vein actually was however I did eventually get my first ever blood sample from a cow (yay!).

My first blood sample from a cow in vet schoolAfter this there was a demonstration on how to collect the bone marrow. Sedation and analgesia (pain relief) is used with bone marrow collection to ensure that the animal feels no pain. Signs of effective sedation are drooling and relaxation of the muscles. In the cow this is taken from the hip bone, and there is a small notch where the bone is thinner that is used for insertion of the collection needle. Now to enter the bone you have to gently tap the top of the needle until you can feel it enter the bone marrow cavity, you then remove the stylet (the needle inside the collection tube) and check the tip of this has bone marrow on which is thicker and more fatty than normal blood. You then attach a syringe to aspirate the bone marrow for analysis later.

My first bone marrow sample in vet school
My first ever bone marrow sample

Ok so maybe I need a hair cut :p However I was really pleased with myself for getting my first medical procedure spot on. I am also cat sitting this weekend so when I got back to dorms after a shower went to collect my new friend. Hope you’ve enjoyed todays post, no animals were harmed during todays experience, yet I have learnt so much!!! 🙂

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