Ontario Agriculture

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U of G OVC Student Veterinarians Share Experiences Working With Animals in Local Clinics - Externship

Diagnostics, clinical skills, problem solving, and working with clients are all critical pieces in a student veterinarian’s education. This summer, five student veterinarians have been blogging during their practical experience (externship) at veterinary practices.

Funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Ministry of Rural Affairs (OMAF and MRA), students must complete an eight-week Externship Course between third and fourth year in a rural (companion and food animal or companion and equine) practice.

This week student-veterinarian Lindsay talked about the broad knowledge required by dairy veterinarians. Check out www.ovc.uoguelph.ca/externship for the latest blog and click on each student's photo to access all of their blogs.

Many factors contribute to dairy herd health

After completing three years of veterinary school I feel like I have been taught a lot of information! However, going into a career of dairy medicine requires knowledge about so much more than just dairy medicine.

One important component of dairy farming that is important for vets to know about is nutrition. Nutrition affects production and transition cow health and therefore is very important for a vet to know about. There are several vets at Heartland Veterinary Services that are very interested in nutrition and I have learned a lot talking with them and walking crop fields to know when they are ready to be harvested.

One aspect of dairy farming that I am very interested in is barn design. Many farmers ask veterinarians about their opinion when building a new barn so it is something I would like to learn more about. There are five key things that need to be assessed when building a new barn: cattle resting space, cattle walking space/flooring, water sources, feeding space and ventilation. Within each of these categories are many aspects of barn design to think about. Now when I go into a barn with a veterinarian I try to remember to assess the barn for these five things.

Another thing key to being a good dairy veterinarian is being able to assess production traits. Many dairy farmers use a milk recording service called CanWest DHI. This company collects production data on farms to be used for management purposes. Things that are recorded include: herd average milk production, fat and protein production, individual cow measurements, somatic cell measurements, average age at first calving, longevity, etc. These values are used to assess how the dairy farm is doing and how it can be improved. The veterinarian plays an integral part in this!

Growing up on a dairy farm I was lucky enough to be exposed to many of these components of dairy farming, but I still have lots to learn!


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