Monday, September 12, 2011

Being a food animal veterinarian, day 4

Day 4. Friday! I was hugely looking forward to having an actual weekend off, with no responsibilities in the hospital for the first time in 5 weeks.

I was one of the first students in to the clinic. Dr. Cole caught me and my classmate Will as I was coming in and told us that a client had just pulled in. She was bringing her extremely elderly and sick dog in to the clinic for euthanasia. The clinic technically doesn’t handle small animals at all, but Dr. Cole was willing to help out the client in this case. We euthanized the dog in the back of the truck, lying comfortably on his blanket. Will and Dr. Cole handled the actual euthanasia, while I talked to the owner about her dog, what he was like.

I rode with Dr. Thery that day. We went out to a small farm which produces artisanal raw cheese for sale in New York city and directly to restaurants in the area. I loved this farm. The cows were all out on grass all summer. The barn was old but very well maintained, not overly dirty. The cows were extremely friendly; even the calves were not head shy at all. We did a herd check, popped an abscess on a cow’s flank, and vaccinated and TB tested a mess of heifers (about to be sold across state lines) and calves.

I kept ducking out of doing the actual medicine to go talk to the farmer about how she makes grass feeding work. Grass feeding is the norm for beef cattle before they go into feedlots, but for dairy cows, conventional wisdom is that they have to be handled too much to make it work. What a pain to have to round up all your cows twice a day for milking! But the farmer shrugged that off. The cows want to be milked, because their udders get uncomfortably full. They come back in to the barn voluntarily. Once they know the routine, it’s no problem.

I wish all farms could be like this one. I know that’s a pipe dream, but I still really want to find a way to support farms like this one, to make it just a little easier for farmers to do what I consider to be the right thing by their animals.

1 comment:

  1. Thats how my grandpa ran his dairy farm. All he needed to do was go to the gate, call the cows, and they would trot up and into the barn to be milked. And if he was late getting to the gate to call them, they would be eagerly waiting there for him to arrive.