Fish farms and the function of glucose… (Day 170)

Fish Farm production fish farming systems

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Pet Webinars

This week the bee’s lecture was cancelled so this morning I got a little extra time to work on my Emergency First Aid for Animals book which was pretty cool and is coming along nicely. I didn’t make my goal however will also be selling the electronic version of the book through this website very shortly, in the meantime you can get it here: http://www.indiegogo.com/a-lifetime-helping-animals-vet-student/x/811619.

Anyways this week we still had a diseases of fish lecture looking at fish production systems (very cool!) and the problems associated with this. The common misconception here is that fish farming is just putting some fish into tanks, letting them grow and then selling them. I remember when I was very young visiting a salmon farm near Aviemore in Scotland and thinking it was more fun than that it was producing food to eat. This however is not the case as when a single tank may contain half a million fish getting things right is essential with complex infrastructure and processes. I am planning some individual diary entries on specific fish so for today will keep it to general information.

Fish Farm production fish farming systemsNow the production process starts with the design of the facilities, fish at different life stages require different conditions with water temperature and space. On farms these may be on separate buildings or tanks, each having an isolated water supply. One of the farms we looked at today spent years getting permits before even starting to allow them to source some of their water from a local river, and discharge water back into the river – even like this they still discharged more than they took!

The problems with the production systems include temperature, water filtration and feeding, the failure of one of these systems can be catastrophic for the animals causing the death of tens of thousands of fish in a single tank! Common problems with farmed fish is that they are not encouraged to move and recently there are new circular tank systems that have been developed producing a current and so encouraging the fish to swim against it causing a better quality of meat.

The biggest problem here however is the economics of production, farm owners are constantly asked for certain native fish, however these may take longer to grow which means higher food costs meaning the fish is unaffordable to buy. Even worse I believe is where it takes more little fish to feed the bigger fish during production (for example salmon takes 3 tonnes of little fish as food to produce 1 tonne of salmon to sell). Anyways this was the diseases of fish lecture today.

After this we had a physiology practical where we were looking at the absorption and digestion of glucose in the body systems though the Oral Glucose Absorption Test. For this we used rabbits checking the blood glucose before than after giving the rabbits a drink of glucose solution and then measuring the blood glucose at 30 minute intervals to produce a glucose curve. This is one of the most basic tests of insulin production and can be used to identify problems which is pretty cool.

Phagocytosis, visiting the dairy farm, and snow… (Day 85)

Milking time on the dairy farm

Today has been another long day, this morning went to Immunology and this afternoon has been about cows. Now today in immunology we started looking at phagocytosis, in basic terms this is when a cell “eats” another cell. Usually this is the phagocytes in the white blood cells which then engulf bacterial or foreign cells that have invaded the body. The phagocytic process generally has 5 steps

  • Activation of the WBC
  • Chemotaxis where WBC moves towards the bacteria
  • Adherence where the WBC will stick to the bacteria
  • Ingestion where the WBC invaginates around the bacteria moving it into the cell
  • Digestion where enzymes and chemicals within the WBC break down the bacteria

Testing the ability of the immune system to respond to a antigen is done using fresh blood to which the antigen is then introduced before it is incubated for an hour. Once this is done the a slide is then prepared for examination under the microscope using the Pappenheim staining technique. In the left of the image below you  can see 3 different phagocytes each containing multiple foreign antigens that they have ingested.

Phagocytosis of antigen by leukocytes observed under the microscope
3 different leukocytes having ingested bacteria

This afternoon Milk Production finished on a high note with a visit to the University Dairy Farm which is located outside of town in a small village in the hills. With snow on the ground, we could see mountains and forests stretching for miles…

Stunning Mountains by UVM Kosice Dairy FarmNow of course being a working dairy farm hygiene requirements are extremely high, they supply all the protective clothing including the wellies, labcoat and hairnet which did look rather fetching on top of my beanie whilst I hide in my scarf.

Me and Milk HygieneWith all that over I guess its time for some cows, here some are in the milking parlour (sorry for the poor photo’s, my ipod sucks at them!) which is automated with id tags on each cow to allow computer tracking of the milk yeild and milking times.

Milking time on the dairy farmWith that I really must be getting some sleep, I did however take this picture from the front door of dorms earlier to share with you all!

Snowy view from the front steps in Kosice, Slovakia

White blood cells, urine, and the muscles of the abdomen and diaphragm… (Day 80)

Physiology practical for urine and urinalyses

Today started with most of last night spent revising, so am relying heavily on coffee today. I’ve got two exams today both in physiology and anatomy, however as anatomy is such a big area this week (muscles of the head, neck and spine) I am going reschedule my physiology (or resit) it next week.

Anyways onto physiology when I got in today the test was at the start (previously it has been at the end) so did not get the opportunity to reschedule so will be resitting it later next week. The good news however is that I passed my last physiology credit test with 90% (which is a A) which was on the cardiovascular system. Todays session was on the examination of urine (called urinalysis) and looking at some of the methods used in looking at white blood cells.

Physiology practical for urine and urinalyses

Urinalysis is a great tool for diagnosis as it is simple, (generally) minimally invasive, and is relatively inexpensive. The test gives good indication of the kidney and liver health whilst also covering other diseases such as diabetes (did you know diabetes is a greek word?) too. Basically it requires a urine sample, the easiest of which is collected “free-flow” in a cup when the animal needs to go. If this is not possible a catheter can be used to collect urine directly from the bladder. In some cases a sterile sample may be needed which is usually taken by a process called cystocentesis where a needle is inserted through the abdomen into the bladder under ultrasound guidance with the animal sedated.

Todays anatomy test was on a big area with the muscles of the face & head, back and neck being covered. Despite knowing every muscle I fell at the first question as I had not learnt it by the groups the muscles are in. Duh! Well they say you learn from experience and this is one I will never forget… What was the question? Name the muscles of mastication (chewing).

Well I know these are the masster (deep and superficial parts), temporalis, pterygoidei (medialis and lateralis) and the digastricus.

Better luck next week with the diaphragm, abdominal muscles and respiratory muscles! I already know the diaphragm off by heart (no pun intended) so hopefully it should go ok!