The stunned cow…

Cow to the slaughter

The bang from the captive bolt gun startled me as the bull dropped to the ground with a thud. Maybe because I’ve worked with cows more that pigs, or it was a bigger animal but something moved inside me.

I was at the slaughter house again; however today was cattle and this time we were there in time for the stunning and killing. Maybe it was because we were just stood discussing something, and it surprised me, however I was out of my element and didn’t know what I felt. This left me on edge for the rest of the session.

Thinking back I believe it was because the other times I have been at the slaughterhouse has been after the killing had already started. Today I went from standing in a quiet room to being surrounded by the sounds of slaughter. It really was a new experience, the bluntness of slaughter when compared to euthanasia.

Looking at the bull it was still, that single shot having induced unconsciousness the bull was hung and then bled. Though the bull is unconscious the heart is still working, and so when it is cut to bleed the blood simply gushes straight out. Death then follows very quickly from the massive loss of blood – without the animal feeling a thing.

I know the importance of meat as a food source, and the vet’s role in ensuring the safety of this for humans. However I am glad that I felt something and I hope that I never reach the stage where I can see the slaughter of any animal and feel nothing.

A bull in the room…

Collection of bull semen

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Best Pet Hair Remover

One of the things here that is a little strange is that a lot of the lecturers also have private clinics in the local area. Whilst this lowers the number of patients being seen at the university it does mean that it is possible to see several different styles of medicine being practiced.

This week has been pretty hectic for me and I managed to go all week(well since Monday) without seeing a single surgery. For me it’s almost like withdrawal, i start to get cravings as it just feels like real medicine and a reminder of why i am here. During andrology our doctor mentioned that he had a mammary gland tumor resection and i was like a fish on a hook.

Before we go there lets talk about todays andrology class, as I’ve said andrology is all about the male reproductive organs. So today was all about the collection and examination of semen from a bull. This is pretty interesting as when a bull mounts a cow they ejaculate pretty quickly. Our lesson actually started with us watching this happen; sometimes i am still amazed when walking into classrooms with massive animals in. For this class there are metal pillars set into the floor for us to stand behind, in the UK at least not many places keep bulls because they are so dangerous, and apparently as a young inexperienced bull even more so i really was glad of this little bit of protection.

After the collection of the sample (apparently enough to inseminate 100+ cows) we moved to the lab where we performed the examination which included staining to distinguish between the live and dead.

After class i then met with the doctor to go to his private clinic for his surgery. I was impressed as it looked pretty recently constructed, and though being a relatively small space still had a lot fitted in. Within the university a lot of relatively simple stuff takes a long time with so many students so it was a breath of fresh air to see so many patients so quickly and effectively. This continued with the surgery using a basic triple combo anesthetic, good monitoring, and the patient recovering uneventfully.

Today i finished my day by having food with some friends. Though it was not such a crazy day this was the first food I managed to have today so was very well recieved!

Getting to grips with a bulls balls…

Vet student does bull rectal exam

Today we had our second Andrology and AI lesson; it was completely practical so turning out in the freezing cold to catch the bus at 7:45am was pretty difficult however it’s only going get colder now so best to get used to it.

So we headed first to the uni farm to collect overalls and wellies, before jumping back onto the bus to head out to another farm where there were some bulls. Now adult bulls are extremely dangerous animals, and are highly selected for positive breeding features so sadly there are a lot that do not make the cut. The animals we were allowed to work with today had all been identified for slaughter for one reason or another – however they were still extremely dangerous (I’ve met ex-dairy men walking with sticks because of being kicked by cows).

Getting ready to start we had a safety briefing and then an introduction into just what we were looking at and where (and how) we would find it. There are several different glands around the penis (including the prostate) that are very important medically and so we need to learn to find and check these. The only way to do this is via rectal exam and so we started firstly by sedating the bulls we were working with for safety (even then it was scary at times) and then started with the rectal exams.

Vet student does bull rectal examAfter this we moved onto the penis itself, in bulls the only way to be able to examine and possibly treat any injuries sustained is to have it relax and “hang” itself. To encourage this we can use anaesthetic drugs to block the nerves that control it from working. Sounds simple right? Well not so much, the nerves we need to block are located within the pelvis so it involves a massive needle being inserted along the side of the rectum/colon and controlled into place through the wall of the rectum during a rectal exam. Once this was done it was then possible to exam and flush the penis.

So a few hours later, with the only warm part of my body being my right hand we had finished and headed back to uni.