It was 40 degrees and sprinkling as we arrived at the sheep barn for our first physical exam sheep lab of the year. The air was filled with excitement and the smell of wet sheep wool. The lab began with demonstrations of performing a physical exam, hoof trimming, IM and SQ injections, and venipuncture. After the quick demonstration, it was time to tackle our own sheep in pairs for the first time.
The majority of students never handled a sheep before, so it is safe to say that wrangling some of the university’s feral ewes was more than entertaining. For the next hour and a half, my partner and I took turns performing physical exams on our wether. He was by far the unruliest sheep of the group. Every procedure ended up with him trying to jump out of our hands or run away to be with the other, uncaught sheep. He did leave for a greater learning experience though as most sheep you may encounter in practice may not be very tame. With a little instruction from one of the large animal residents, we were both able to successfully accomplish all our tasks including venipuncture – which was one procedure I have never done on a sheep before. We ended the lab with a few of us sticking back and assisting with some castrations and tail docking on some of the lambs; which for many was the highlight of the lab.
This was one of our first live animal labs of the semester and it was such a great relief, in a way, to be able to finally be able to handle animals again. One of the biggest struggles of being a first-year veterinary student is how few live animal labs you may get, but the amount of knowledge you are gaining in other labs and lecture is immense. It’s hard to imagine that in less than a year, we will be doing our first surgery. We have learned so much but have a long way to go.