Animal Hygiene, or how to prevent environmental diseases in animals… (Day 158)

Draught wind speed and velocity measurement device

Today’s Diary Entry sponsored by Pet Hooligans

Nearly the end of the first week of my second semester here in vet school, today is the start of Animal Hygiene which is a module I have been looking forward to as it is actually taught by the vice-rector. We have just 4 weeks of classroom learning at the start of the semester and then each week will alternate between a farm visit and looking at the needs of specific animals. When posting on Twitter I’ve realised that many people do not understand just what animal hygiene is or covers (It’s not as simple as bathing animals!) so wanted to take a few minutes today to introduce the subject to you. Taking the definition of hygiene from the free dictionary it is simply

“The science that deals with the promotion and preservation of health.”

Ok, so its now become a science, and it promotes and preserves health. Relating this to animals basically animal hygiene becomes the science that promotes and preserves the animals health. This is where it gets interesting as instead of just purely treating diseases as vets we are responsible for preventing disease in the first place!

The first thing to consider when thinking about animal health is the conditions in which the animal lives – in fact with reptiles incorrect environmental conditions cause around 90% of medical problems! Sadly this module is primarily focused at production animals so things like sheep, goats, pigs, cattle, and chickens. When we talk about hygiene we are considering what the animal needs; the temperature, ventilation, light, space, materials, layout etc.

Today we covered the equipment used to measure these things – aka we spent an hour having thermometers explained to us – before moving onto cool things such as this…

Draught wind speed and velocity measurement deviceLooks pretty cool, basically its a fan that the wind or draught in the building blows around and it measures the velocity. Having proper ventilation is good as animals produce a lot of waste gases (not just methane but things like ammonia too) which are detrimental to their health. Ventilation also allows for the distribution of heated air and the limit for the speed of the movement of air is dependant on the animal species and season however above 3 meters a second is considered a draught.

Obviously temperature is also important as too cold the animals have depressed metabolism, however too hot and the animals have hyperthermia which is even worse. Then you have the lighting, animals are sensitive to light patterns (and even to the colour of the light) with it actually regulating the reproductive cycle in sheep.

I hope that I’ve explained just what animal hygiene is pretty well, as always feel free to leave comments and questions below!

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