Tail blood (Day -276)

Cow reproductive management

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.

The Final Countdown… (Day -297)

Final Year Vet Student Lecture Timetable

Though it seems like only yesterday that I was getting onto a plane to come to Slovakia for the first time, today I started my final year of vet school. What was a dream is now nearly reality with just 297 days to go.

I am excited yet dreading the year ahead – it starts today with 2 weeks of lectures from 8am – 7pm everyday apart from Fridays. On Friday’s for some reason we start at 8am and finish at 8pm. In addition to this we’ve become guinea pigs for a new way of teaching that the university is trying out to cover species in blocks instead of lessons through the year.

So this still means that I have 4 big state exams left to do, however the time I have to learn everything I need to pass them has been reduced to a four week period. This is better in some subjects such as swine where we only do a semesters study so we study everything and then pass the exam. However for Small Animals however this means we have four weeks to learn surgery, reproduction, infectious and to revise all the internal medicine stuff that we covered over last year – intense much?

The group I am in sets the order I am doing things which gives me ruminants first with the state exam on the 26th October. This is followed by swine on the 7th December. Small Animals is then on 28th March and my final exam – equine is on the 23rd May.

I’ve also got to finish up my thesis by the start of April and will defend this at the end of May.

Until then I have decided that I am going finish as I started – with a diary entry every day through my last year – it is amazing how long each diary entry actually takes to write so with my other commitments through the past couple of years I have let it slip a little which isn’t great. This however could not be helped as I did have a part time job which helped me through school a lot – unfortunately though this is something that is impossible to continue so I once again have the time for my diary and crowdfunding approach to vet school.

I am planning some really special things over the next year so do stay tuned. With that however I think I should explain the new countdown…

Zero day with graduation just so long as I don’t mess anything up is on either 28th or 29th June. And hopefully you will all join the countdown with me.