I recently did an externship at a mixed practice in Central Maine. The practice is near one of the densest dairy farm areas in the state, so it is never at a lack for cow clients. There are also a lot of other farms in the area, guaranteeing a steady stream of other cow clients as well. The other cows that make up the clientele are usually beef cows in small-scale or organic operations. Most of the beef cow work is fairly hands-off other than vaccinations, herd health visits, and an emergency injury every now and then. There are not feedlot clients up this way, which is fine by me! This practice also sees a lot of equine and small ruminant clients, as well as the occasional unique large animal like camels or reindeer.
A lot of this externship consisted of traditional ambulatory work with cattle. Plenty of mornings were spent doing rectal exams on dairy cows. Rectal palpations are our way of diagnosing the stage of pregnancy in cows. They are part of the job. I know some people that love doing pregnancy checks and could do them all day long. For me, it is a fun way to get outside, but I enjoy doing them only a few days out of the week. We also spend a lot of time vaccinating cows against common respiratory pathogens, gastrointestinal pathogens, and rabies. This work is important. It is also surprisingly anything other than dull! We end up having to catch the cows in various ways, and some of them do not like being caught. It can quickly turn into a rodeo before you know it. You have to be careful when catching some of these wild beasts, but most of the time everyone stays safe and we get the job done efficiently.
Cool emergencies always pop up on ambulatory services. We had a mature beef with an abscess that we had to address the other day. This abscess was HUGE. The owner described it as the size of a softball, and he was not too far off, but I think it was even larger! It may have been the size of a small watermelon. Man o man did that abscess drain! It is a good thing we went to see the cow. The cow was automatically relieved once the pressure in its leg starting to go down. We washed the abscess out well, gave the cow a shot, sprayed the wound, and loaded her up with fly spray in order to ward off the impending maggot infestation. Hopefully, she will heal well and not look back from the ordeal.