Blood collection is one of the basic skills of medicine as blood can tell you so much about a patient. Something I’ve very little experience with however is cow medicine – and in cows you normally take blood from the tail. This is because the cow is massive, generally is a safe place from being kicked, and usually is quick when moving through a row of cows.
Theory going into practice though my first calf with this method I failed my first two attempts on the tail so decided to go for the jugular instead which was a lot easier for me to get. Getting a jugular vein in an adult cow however is a big effort as the cow needs to be properly restrained and often into a crush to do it safely.
So disaster for me – even though I had got the blood needed for testing from the jugular – it was still a really harsh personal insult that I had failed from the tail. The theory with collecting blood from the tail is that you insert the needle directly in the center of the underside of the tail until you hit bone. Pull back slightly and then the blood will flow. So simple yet I had failed.
There was still time though with maybe another 50 older calves to go. These were harder to restrain, a lot more work, and a lot bigger. Being bigger also meant that these calves had larger tail veins, and so every cow going forward I had no problem collecting my blood from the tail vein.
The second thing with cows that is important when it comes to cow medicine is managing the herd behaviour. For cows will run away from you, and look for a path to escape, and cows will fall especially if in a herd. And then the others in a panic will walk over the fallen ones to escape. So what was a herd of unvaccinated cows will become a herd of broken, beaten, unvaccinated cows.
We wrestled our way through these 50 calves using brute force and the fence of the pen to restrain them. With the last calf we were happy to be done, and the calves happy to see us go.