Coming into veterinary school for my second year, I was very excited for the first topic of the day. Bovine restraint — one of the things that I have learned and used very frequently in the past. However, since starting school last year I did not work with cattle that much, so I knew this would be an important refresher.
The class started by going over all the basics. Haltering a cow, casting methods, nose leads, and the ever important halter tie were discussed. By the end of the class, we each had our own 3-foot piece of rope to perfect the halter tie. During lab the following day, we would have to put all of these skills to use, so having some practice beforehand was recommended.
The lab was very straightforward, but it was nice to finally get a little time with the cows. My friend and I chose a Jersey, one that had quite the attitude. She obviously knew what we were doing and she didn’t want any part of it. Over the next hour, we were able to halter her, put a nose lead in her, and practice tail jacking and tail tying. Despite feeling confident about everything, it was also a great way to connect with the teachers and learn directly from them, while at the same time sharing my knowledge with my close friend who didn’t have much cow experience.
While our Jersey was a little feisty, she wasn’t anywhere close to a particular cow I had to work with a few years earlier. On that day, I had the misfortune of leading an expecting mother known to be difficult to handle, down to the calving barn. It took around 5 people to get her into an area where we could halter her, and then I was forced to lead her down because I was the biggest person present. But instead, she led me where she wanted to go. As my friends opened the gate, the cow bolted out of the pen and was pulling me along. She headed outside into the night, led us through freshly fallen snow and icy puddles, and partway out into a field. But eventually I was able to slow her down and lead her into the calving facility.
While it felt nice to practice skills I hadn’t used in a while, the emphasis on hands-on learning this semester is much improved over last year. The start to second year has been a great one, and I can’t wait to keep moving forward.