Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Scampers Pet Store
This week in animal hygiene we started with our double lecture:double practical system as next week instead of being in the classroom we are out visiting a cow and sheep farm. So we previously defined animal hygiene and now today we spent the lecture looking at the specific requirements of cattle in the different life stages. When dealing with production animals one of the best management strategies is grouping together animals with the same nutritional and environmental needs. With cattle these are split into
- Dairy Cows (Female lactating cows)
- Calves (Until 6 months of age)
- Heifers (Females aged 7 months – first calving
- Bulls (From 7 months of age)
Theses categories are further broken down by age and weight, and within this by breed and health status. Generally a single group of animals should not exceed 20 animals, and during the calf stage animals may only be individually penned up until 8 weeks of age (excluding those receiving veterinary treatment). Some of the reasoning behind this includes the memory of the cow to recognise other members of the group, promoting natural behaviour whilst trying to provide for the physical and mental needs of the animal.
As I said on Tuesday, I am going split the diary entry for Tuesday where I have tonnes to write about over both Tuesday and today which is a little quieter. So Tuesday’s physiology practical was on the reproductive physiology of animals and we did a few tests looking at the ovulation and breeding of animals, before then heading down to the clinic to look at induction and synchronisation of ovulation in sheep practice.
The most basic clinical exam when looking at reproduction in animals is taking a vaginal smear, basically a swab is inserted into the vagina to collect a sample of the skin cells. These cells alter depending on the levels of different hormones within the blood allowing detection of ovulation and fertility within the animal. We did vaginal smears from a dog and from rats which was interesting because of how the same techniques can be applied across species regardless of size.
We then went down to look at induction of ovulation in some sheep, this is extremely important within the sheep industry to ensure that animals will lamb at the same time and so allow for this to be planned and managed properly. It’s especially useful for production of Christmas Lamb or Easter Lamb for holiday occasions. This can be done either naturally by introducing a infertile ram into the flock, or artificially using hormones to induce the estrus. The technique we learnt was inserting a vaginal sponge (kinda like a tampon) soaked with hormones to induce estrus, this sponge is then left in place for 14 days before then being removed and a ram introduced for mating.