Milking Week Two

From July 28th to August 1st, I took part in a second week of work experience at Meadow Cottage Farm in Churt. I was delighted to be asked back by the Haynes family, as this has been my favorite work experience placement so far.

 

Day One:

Today was the day before the Winchester Farmer’s Market. This is the biggest show of the year for the family, and Celia is known to sell over 300 bottles of milk on this one day. Therefore, I spent today frantically filling milk bottles and helping with the ice cream production. By the end of the day, the van was full of milk and ice cream and I was feeling very happy as I know I was a lot of use. We prepared some extra ice cream tubs for Celia to take as spares, so that she would not run out of the popular flavors such as Vanilla, Chocolate, Vanilla and Ginger and Butter Toffee. By the end of the day, I was very tired but very much looking forward to coming back again tomorrow.

 

Day Two:

Today was the Winchester Show, and we waved Celia off early to the market. Today I spent much of the day helping with the horses on the farm. The breeding farm, The Weydown Stud (www.weydown.com), that the Haynes’ daughter, Julie, and her husband runs is very successful. They currently have two colts for sale, both four months old. Today, a lady came to see them from Wales. She was very tempted by Norman, and was not put off by the cut on his side. However, she wished he had a slightly more expressive movement, like Gerald does. In the end, she decided to go away and think about the decision and try and plan the logistics of a new foal. Today was a pretty relaxed day, as the ice cream side of the business stops over the weekend, to give Julie and Laura some time off.

 

Day Three:

Today was back to normal with beginning the day by scraping the yard and turning out the cows to grass. The ice cream part of the business was back and so I spent a lot of the day labeling up ice cream lids and helping to stack the ice cream into the freezer. It was good to have Julie and Laura back as they are very fun to work with! Today, Norman’s side was looking a lot better and was healing very well, though he was still running around the field like a lunatic!

Yet again today, I was placed in charge of feeding the pigs. They were due to go off to slaughter tomorrow, so I took this time to ask as many pig-related questions as possible. This is when I discovered quite how brutal pigs can be! However, they were very well mannered and enjoyed the skimmed milk very much! I have been told that the Haynes’ are getting nine more piglets in about a months time, so I will go and visit them when they arrive!

 

Day Four:

Today, the four pigs went off to the slaughter house in Farnborough. I helped Mark and Peter to load them up into the trailer, however there was one pig who really didn’t want to load, and resorted to jumping over the boards that Peter and Mark were holding; something they hadn’t encountered before! However, after a while, they were all safely on board and we set off to the abattoir. Half an hour later, we unloaded the pigs into the abattoir yard and then mucked out the entire trailer and power hosed it down. This is compulsory for everyone who brings animals into the abattoir, due to reducing spread of disease. Meadow Cottage will receive four sides of pigs back, with two sides going into sausages and another two sides going to make bacon. This will be very profitable for the farm as the bacon and sausages are always very popular. This evening, I milked with Peter. The milking is becoming a very regular part of my routine and it will be very strange to stop it!

Day Five:

Today the plan was to muck out all of the stables which contain the calves. This meant moving all of the calves from their stables into different ones while the tractor was removing all of the straw. The way we did this was to construct a small runway from one stable to another. The calves absolutely loved it! They decided it was a game and began to run from one stable to the next, jumping down one step and up another. It was a delight to watch, and luckily, Mark asked me to keep an eye on them, so I was allowed to stand and watch them!

We also had to move the young bull from his pen so it could be cleared out. His name is Dunkirk, due to his being born on September 11th 2011. He is a very well trained bull, and it able to be lead by only Mark at the moment, as he is still quite small. To give him a break we put him in the bull’s pen, and tuned the bull out.

The whole of the day was brilliant, as was the entire week. I will never forget both weeks I have spent at Meadow Cottage Farm, and I am delighted that they would be willing to take me back again!

 

Katie

Milking Experience

From Monday 16th July to Friday 20th July, I took part in a week of work experience at a local dairy farm called Meadow Cottage Farm. I can honestly say it was my favorite week of work experience I have done so far. It was incredible! The people were so welcoming that I felt immediately at home and was therefore able to ask questions and be more useful.

Day One

I began the day with a very warm welcome from everyone and a very nice cup of tea! The morning milk had just finshed and so I helped to turn out the milking cows. They have such a regular routine that the cows know exactly where they are going and all that we had to do was to open the gate into the field at the bottom of the field! It was brilliant. Mark, the farmer’s son, told me that they have over 70 milking cows at the farm, and they have many dry cows (which are about to have a calf or have had one recently) and calves, which makes the herd a large one. Once the milking cows were out, we turned out the very pregnant cows into a field which was very close by to the farm, so that they could be observed easily. After this, we were able to clean out the yard, then had a breakfast break. After breakfast I accompanied Mark and Peter (the farmer) to one of the local fields where there was a group of 11 heifers. Tomorrow we need to move them to a new field for new, fresh grass, so today we constructed a pen with a food trough in it. Today we fed the hefiers in the pen so that they got used to entering the pen.

In the afternoon, I helped the ice cream making side of the business. Julie (the farmer’s daugter) and Laura (who works at the farm) are in control of the ice cream production, along with Celia, who is the farmer’s wife. Today I helped with the labelling up the ice cream lids and we also made some sorbet, so I labelled up the sorbet lids too. The sorbet tasted amazing! Mango was my favorite, but the lemon was very good too. My next task was to help muck out the four pigs that the farm are home to. They would be going off to slaughter in a few weeks and so they were rather large! The pigs are fed on a scoop of oats, a scoop of pig pellets and two buckets of skimmed milk twice a day. This is a very good way of reducing waste from the farm, as the skimmed milk was a side product from producing cream.

In the evening, I was able to go into the milking parlour with Peter. To begin with, we donned aprons and then scrubbed our hands thoroughly. The cows were very eager to come in, as they were given hard feed while being milked; a good incentive!! The milking began with letting four cows into each side of the milking parlour. The teats are washed thouroughly to remove dirt and to stimulate the milk flow, and then dried. The milking machine suckers are then attatched to the teats and left to milk the cows. The four suckers alternate sucking in pairs which is supposed to reflect the succling of the calves, and so make milk extraction faster and more effective. After the milking suckers are removed, the teats are sprayed with a mild antiseptic to prevent any infection or soreness.

 

Day Two:

Today we moved the heifers from their previous field into another, much larger and newer field. We brought them into the pen with food and then rounded up any stragglers. Two trips later, all of the heifers were in their new field and looked very happy! The grass was lush to last them for a while at least. Back at the farm, Mark and Peter decided today was a good day to turn out the bull into the field. He was lead by both Mark and Peter, one on a lead rope each, attached to his nose ring. Colin, the bull, is a three year old and had been raised at the farm and so trusts Mark and Peter. However, there are many horror stories of farmers being trampled by their bulls, so you can never be too careful.

After lunch, I accompanied Peter to visit the dry cows in a field on a near-by estate. There were five cows here who have all calved on previous years, so know exactly what they have to do. There was one cow who was especially large. Peter was suspicious of twins, but said that sometimes the cow looks huge but much of it is the fluid surrounding the fetus.

The picture below shows just how large Buttercup became and so why we believe she may be carrying twins!

This evening, I milked with Pat. Pat is a relief milker who comes into the farm on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday to allow Peter some time off. Pat was amazing, and knows so much about cows and milking. It was very interesting to see the differences between Pat and Peter’s ways of milking and I definitely took a lot from both of them. Pat was very interesting and told me many stories of different cows he has milked in the past.

 

Day Three

I began today as previously, with scraping the yard to remove the muck, then we turned out all the milking cows into the field, and then the dry cows into the close field. Today I spent mainly helping in the ice cream parlor. I was labeling lids and stacking the full tubs. All of the ice cream is given a sell by date, but it is apparently only a rough estimate. Today, the vet came out to see one of the show pony foals that Julie has bred. He had caught his side last week and the vet had put five stitches in it to help hold it closed. However, being a very active foal of only four months, the stitches had popped and the wound was a lot more open than Julie wanted. She had been putting silver antiseptic spray on the cut, recommended by the vet, however this vet decided that wound powder would be more effective, as the spray was beginning to spook Norman. Over the week, Norman’s cut became visibly smaller and was healing very well.

While the vet was here, he also looked at Julie’s stallion, Consort, and registered him as a stallion who is now able to breed.

Today I was unable to milk, due to circumstances beyond my control.

 

Day Four

Today started the same way as before. I scraped the yard of muck and then helped turn out the milking cows and the dry cows to their fields. Thursday is always a busy day, as is Friday, in the farm shop. In the shop they sell everything from milk and ice cream to sausages and honey. It is an on going task to make sure there are enough milk bottles to manage the demand from the public. Today was a very busy day, and so I spent the whole morning and most of the afternoon filling up milk bottles with a jug from the tank of milk.

It is a very therapeutic job, but can begin to hurt the shoulders after a while! It was a good day and I got a lot done in the end!

This evening I milked with Pat again, and had another entertaining evening full of jokes and very interesting stories.

 

Day Five

Today began the same as always, with scraping the yard and turning out the cows to grass. I did a lot of milk bottle filling again today, but it became considerably harder as the day went on, as the level of milk in the tank dropped a lot! Every two days, a milk tanker comes from the local milk producers to collect any milk remaining, and the tanker had come yesterday evening, so there wasn’t even any milk left from yesterday’s milking! After I had filled many of the bottles (I think it was about 60 by the time I had finished) I went with Celia to package up some sausages. At Meadow Cottage, they weigh the sausages out and price them according to weight, so we spent the entire afternoon doing this. It was a good day, as we got a lot done, however, it was very sad as it was my last day! Celia has asked me back again soon, so I will keep updating.

Katie

 

VetSim

This weekend I embarked, yet again, to Nottingham University for a practical course called VetSim. It was a three day course from 8th to 10th July. I was lucky enough to be able to meet up with some of my friends from Vet-Medlink, but I also made lots of new friends on this trip. VetSim was described as an extremely practical course and so when I arrived I did not know what this would entirely entail. However, it was an incredible experience, that I would never have missed.

Day One (Sunday)

I arrived at about midday and received all the information I needed. I also got my stethoscope and scrubs, which was amazing. I then settled into my room. Today was a day of lectures, mainly about scanning techniques such as ultra sound and X-rays. It was a really interesting afternoon, especially the talk on the theory of keyhole surgery. We also discussed some of the advantages and disadvantages of laparoscopic surgery, including surgery time, incision size and the chance of complications. We also had a session on the way to use a stethoscope, which was fascinating as we were able to hear our own hearts and discuss S1 and S2.

 

Day Two (Monday)

Today was the first day of the practical sessions. We had the entire day learning how to look after and hold exotic species of animal, ranging from a snapping turtle, which has to be held from behind or he will take your finger off, to a long eared owl.

Today was amazing and I came into contact with many animals of which I have never had the chance to interact with before. I think the most interesting session was the macaw session, where I was allowed to hold one of the macaws. Her name was Jenna and she was fascinating! Steve, the owner of all of the animals, explained some of Jenna’s behavior, such as when Jenna stood on my shoulder, it wasn’t affection, or to gain a better view, it was a sign of dominance. I was also intrigued by the porkupine we came into contact with. It was an eight week old Indian Crested Porcupine and she was brilliant!

I was also very happy to be able to destroy some of the pre-conceptions I held about some animals, such as the skunk. I was always taught that the skunk was very smelly and would “stink” you whenever it had the chance. This is utterly wrong and I had an amazing hour of petting and learning about these amazing creatures.

 

Here are some more of the animals I encountered:

 

 

Day Three (Tuesday)

Today was another practical session which had a husbandry section in the morning, and a more clinical section in the afternoon. The husbandry section consisted of many animals, including tarantulas to snakes and lizards. I now have a new respect for snakes and am trying to save up to be able to buy one at the moment. The corn snakes were beautiful!

 

The husbandry of a snake is surprisingly simple, compared to my previous thoughts. They require a heat lamp and shelters in both the warmer end of the vivarium and the cooler end. However, the bearded dragons need much more, such as a UV lamp. We saw one dragon who had been kept for a long time in a vivarium with no UV lamp. He turned out to be very deformed and was nicknamed “Quasimodo” after the Disney character, due to his very high back.

This is compared to a “normal” healthy bearded dragon:

 

In the afternoon, the surgical sessions were very interesting. I was able to try out suturing which was brilliant!

As well as this, we were able to look at some very interesting X-Rays of cats and dogs and were told some of the basic ways in which to identify which animal it was, such as size and shape of vertebrae. We were also given the opportunity to use an ultra sound machine on ourselves. I had a look at my kidneys, as I have been having problems with multiple kidney infections recently. Thankfully, they looked fine!

 

Overall, I have had the most incredible time at Nottingham for VetSim and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in being a vet, or interested in conservation. I have also made inquiries into having a week of work experience at Tropical Inc, the company who did the first day of practical sessions. I am very excited about this!

Katie

Update

I have been extremely busy over the last few months, and am now happy to have finished exams. Beginning the A Level course is a good feeling, knowing that I am very happy to be learning again! For the summer I have three weeks of work experience planned; one week milking and two weeks at London Zoo. I am very very excited for that! I am also trying to organise another week of either kennels or equine physiotherapy, which has been an interest since I had a lecture about it at Vet-Medlink.

I have also been very busy competing a horse for a friend of mine. She’s an ex-racehorse and is a big challenge, but very rewarding. I have been doing everything with her, from show jumping to showing and she is excelling in both. I am very happy with how well she is going.

I shall do another update soon, when I have done some of my work experience!

 

Katie

Lambing

Last week, I began four days of work experience lambing at Bonhurst Farm in Bramley. I have never worked with any type of large animal, apart from horses, before this and so it was a completely new experience and definitely one I shall never forget. It was made even better when I found I was to be working alongside a current vet student at Cambridge who was in her third year, so just completing her Part II. It was made even better when I found out that she even used to go to my school, so knew all about the support I would receive over the next few months and knew what I would need to do to help my application even more.

Day One

I was thrown straight in at the deep end on the first day, beginning the day by bedding up the ewes and lambs that were being kept in the barn in the ‘mothering up’ pens. These pens are used to aid the bonding process between the ewe and lambs and also give the farmer a chance to observe the lambs, but also ‘ring’ them. The rings are placed around two inches down from the base of the tail and, essentially, dock the tail. This is a very important process as a long tail causes an increased risk of fly strike, which can easily kill a sheep. A ring is also placed around the base of the testicle sack, as any inbreeding can be very damaging to a flock of sheep. The blood lines are monitored very closely, so as to prevent this, and ringing is done religiously. After this ringing the lambs, they are all numbered in a certain colour spray which helps to identify not only who their ewe is, but also which field they belong to, incase of an escaping lamb. After this, the farmer, Trevor, took me on his rounds around the fields to make sure that none of the lambs had got out or were stuck, and that all of the sheep were in health. As we were doing the rounds, Trevor told me about the worming and vaccinating programme they have at Bonhurst. He also informed me that they would need to vaccinate and worm the lambs who were born in March, so I would be involved in that. In the last field we entered, we saw that two ewe lambs (first time or second time mothers) had given birth, and one had lambed three lambs, which is extremely rare for ewe lambs. Trevor informed me that they would take two off her so that the larger one had a greater chance of survival. We caught and penned these ewes and their lambs and took away the two smaller lambs from the ewe lamb. I then proceeded to stomach tube the lambs as they were so small they needed the colostrum as quickly and directly as possible. I was then asked to give a penicillin injection to a ewe as she had a slight infection in one of her eyes. She was also on remedial eye drops.

Day Two

We began the vaccination and worming programme today of the March lambs. We built a corral in which to round the ewes and lambs into and, helped by Sam the dog, got them all in safely and began the vaccinating. We had Trevor on vaccinating, myself on worming, the other vet student on marking the lambs so that we didn’t do them twice. It was very interesting and Trevor spoke about the different vaccines and wormers used throughout the lambs’ lives. The vaccine used was ‘Heptavac P’ which is used to protect against a good range of ailments. We then moved on to doing more ringing of the newly born lambs and numbering the lambs and ewes. The two small lambs taken from their mothers yesterday were joined by one more today and we were given the job of bottle feeding them, which was very fun and hilarious to watch! I will upload a video later if possible. The milk given to them is called “SCA Shepherdess Orphan Lamb Milk” and contains the vital antibodies that the newly born lambs need to survive in the world.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nADEc0vnzvg&feature=relmfu

Day Three

I arrived early today and bedded up the ewes and lambs in the barn, then Trevor whisked me away to vaccinate and worm another three fields of lambs! We had one fun moment where a lamb escaped into the field next door and we had a good time trying to herd him back through the gate and in towards his mother. Today, we had some clippers so as to clip the rear end of any of the ewes who were dirty. This is done regularly to prevent the onset of fly strike and is very effective according to Trevor. He has also been vaccinating against fly strike which he said has had an incredible effect and he now would not do without it. After lunch, I had my first chance to lamb. One ewe had a “knuckled” lamb, where the forelimbs are in an awkward position, meaning that the lamb is unable to be born without help. A sign of the lamb in distress is the tongue poking out of its mouth. When it becomes really bad, the tongue goes purple and the head of the lamb begins to swell. However, we had caught this one early and so, with the direction of Trevor, I managed to free first one front leg, then the other so that the forelimbs were in the correct position to give birth. I then supported the back of the lamb’s head and worked in unison with the ewe’s contractions to release the lamb. I then cleared the lamb’s nasal passages and swung him, while holding onto his hind limbs. This clears all the mucus from any of the passages and normally kick starts the lamb’s breathing. This one was a very strong lamb and was quick to get to his feet and suckle. This made me extremely proud. 

 

Day Four

Today was my last day and it did make me feel sad to think that I would be leaving. Trevor now trusted me a lot more, so much so that he left me on my own on the farm for over an hour and told me to “keep an eye on things” which I did. One ewe lambed just a single and another seemed to be lambing, but hadn’t lambed after half an hour, so I called Trevor and we got her in. Luckily! Yet again, we had another knuckled lamb. I did exactly the same as with the lamb yesterday and all was well! A very healthy young lamb.

I left the ewe and lamb to bond, then came back later, gave the lamb two squirts of quick start and sprayed his umbilical chord with iodine. This helps it to dry out and prevents a large amount of infection. Later we gave two lambs some eye drops as they had the start of an infection, rung and numbered some more lambs, then bottle fed my three orphans again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oHj5Og4xxs&feature=relmfu

I felt sad leaving the farm, especially the three orphans who would baa at me as soon as I came near their pen, but I know they’re in safe hands. I would love to thank both Trevor and Karen, who were amazing for me. They have taught me so much and I shall never forget this experience!

Katie

Vet-Medlink

On the first of April this year, I traveled to Nottingham University for a five day lecture program of varied topics and subjects. I have to say, it was an extremely enjoyable time for me as I made some amazing friends who I’m sure I will cherish for the rest of my life. The lecturers were very informative and incredibly charismatic, helping to portray their passion for their subjects to us all.

Some of the topics covered included a full day of “Pathology and Parasitology” covering oncology, exotic parasites and post mortem. The rest of the time was spent learning about some of the current topics of veterinary science including the RSPCA, equine surgery, canine and feline behavior, hydrotherapy, zoo veterinary science, exotics and much more. There was even a section on working abroad, which I found extremely interesting as this thought had never occurred to me before.

I think a very valuable session we had was a ‘Student Forum’ which gave us all the chance to ask questions of the current vet students from Nottingham, Bristol and the RVC. They were able to give some first hand experiences of the course in their university and were very informative about the admissions process and especially the interviews. The Chemistry ‘Upgrade to A*’ session was also very good, and gave me more confidence in the work I am doing and the topics I am currently studying.

However, the most impressive and invaluable session that I attended was definitely ‘The Edge’ as it was so informative about how to ‘get the upper hand’ in the admissions process. I am now feeling more prepared than I thought I would, and I hope this pays off in my interview and personal statement.

All in all, Vet-Medlink was a brilliant few days and definitely worth attending. I would recommend it to any potential vet student, or anyone interested in animals at all. I have also signed up for the ‘VetSim’ course in the summer, which looks amazing!

Katie

Veterinary

Since a young age, people have asked me what I wanted to be, and, at the age of 7, saying “A vet” seemed natural. I had a burning love of animals, I always used to “play doctor” on my animals and I loved the prospect of visiting the small, local vet practice with my dog. As I have grown older, I have been told how hard the career path is that I have chosen. I believe I know how hard it is and how competitive it is, however, I am determined to do all I can to carry out my dream and succeed in this line of work. The excitement I have had in beginning this blog is overwhelming, and I’m ecstatic to be given the opportunity to share my experiences and, hopefully, pass on my enthusiasm and excitement to all that reads this. I hope you enjoy my bog.

Katie