Ontario Agriculture

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Best practices in farm animal husbandry important piece of student veterinarian experience

Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) Dean Jeff Wichtel recently joined first and fourth year DVM students during hands-on health management training with small ruminants

Last week was a good week for me: I put on my coveralls and did some teaching. It’s less than five months since I left my position as a clinician at the Atlantic Veterinary College, yet it seems ages ago and I have been missing it.

I thoroughly enjoyed helping Dr. Paula Menzies, in OVC’s Population Medicine department, with Clinical Medicine 1 - this is a first year class in OVC’s DVM program teaching students about small ruminant restraint and physical examination. I also had the opportunity to join the fourth year Lambing rotation (held at Bill McCutcheon’s farm up past Grand Valley). In both of these experiences, one near the beginning and one near the end of their time in OVC’s DVM program, student veterinarians expand their knowledge of livestock and how we as a society manage and care for them. They learn best practices in farm animal husbandry and health management, which form the basis of our highly successful food animal industries here in North America.

These experiences are very hands-on and practical, but they are not only about assuring our students have technical competencies in these areas when they graduate. Veterinary students of all backgrounds benefit from being able to experience and speak knowledgeably about livestock production, regardless of the career they pursue once they leave our program.

Veterinarians are seen as the foremost advocates for animal care and welfare; each of our graduates will have a role in educating the public about how their food and fibre are produced, and the commitment of our livestock producers to the well-being of animals under their care. The fourth year Lambing rotation in particular leaves the students with a sense of technical accomplishment (they are understandably proud of the many hypothermic lambs they save!). However it also gives them an appreciation for the ever-increasing complexities involved in running a sustainable and successful farm animal operation - including business, food safety, environmental and ethical concerns, in addition to animal health and production – as well as the role of the veterinarian in partnering with farmers to ensure this success.

Thanks To Dr. Menzies, Bill McCutcheon and the students for allowing me to get away from meetings, at least for a short while, and do what I love to do best. 

 

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