Wisconsin is known as the Dairyland. So it was only fitting that Globe University Veterinary Technology Instructor, Kevin Berry CVT, took his VT270 Production Animals class to a local dairy farm to learn about cow anatomy, milk production, milk handling, feed storage, calf raising, cow comfort, and costs of production. Having the hands-on experience helps the students see and understand how a dairy operates on a day to day basis.
Studying cow anatomy helps students understand how the animal works from the inside out. Cows can be finicky animals, it helps to know why, where and what could be a possible issue at any given time. Some of the most common issues with cows are fresh cow conditions. This takes place in about a 30 day window around the time when the cow has a calf. Metabolic imbalances can cause the cow to become ill with several different disorders, which cost the farmer money in lost production. They have a detrimental effect on the cow’s milk production and possibly her life.
Students got to perform physical exams and diagnostic tests to find these disorders and see how they occur. Then they learned how to treat the animals and how to properly administer the treatments. This is all very important in production animal veterinary medicine, as it could help save a cow’s life.
Cassandra Hansen, Veterinary Technology student, learned a lot from taking a hands-on trip to the farm. “The tour of Cihlar Farm was very informational and very well laid out. Treatment of dairy cattle is 5 star! Kevin was a great tour guide and is very knowledgeable. I enjoyed the experience and look forward to going again!”
The students toured the milking parlor where the cows are milked twice a day and the free stall barn where the cows live. They discussed the different types of bedding options farmers have to keep their cows comfortable. They also saw how farmers cool their cows with sprinklers and huge fans in the summer to avoid summer heat stress. The students learned how well the cows have to be treated to be able to produce large quantities of milk for their human counterparts.
The final stop on the tour was the calf barn. The students learned how calves are raised and what is needed to keep them healthy. It is usually the highlight of the tour as the students get to handle the calves and perform treatments.
Students and faculty alike were thrilled with their experience on the farm. Danika Cappelletti raved about her time on the farm. “The tour was a very nice experience and the facilities at Cihlar Farm were very nice. I learned a lot about how the facilities work with cows and how they are taken care of. Kevin was a great instructor to give the tour. He knew everything you could ever know about cows and all of the workings of everything. It was a very enjoyable experience and I learned a lot. I look forward to going back!”
Even other instructors couldn’t hold back their rave reviews of the trip. Medical Assistant Program Chair, Kerry Miller-Mouzon, was in awe of the experience. “As an instructor (for the MA program), I was curious about the experiences other programs offer their students. The tour of the farm was amazing. This appeared to be an excellent hands-on experience for the students and I would love to find similar types of resources to be able to offer my MA students such an incredible hands-on experience.”
By Kevin Berry, CVT, Veterinary Technology Faculty, Globe University – Wausau