During veterinary school clinics, it’s not often that you get to do much. You are always under supervision and consulting with a superior on cases. Last week we had a few days with nothing on the schedule. To all of our surprise, our instructor told us we would be heading back to a prison goat farm to help with kidding. But we would be going alone. We students were going to take a vet truck and one of the other vehicles and head back out to the prison farm all on our own. This meant no official veterinarian and no official instructor.
As a group, we headed out at 5 am. When we arrived, there we could see so many little babies out in the field. During our last visit, only a few babies had been born. Our first case was a ewe that was lateral, anemic, and dying. Despite giving her intravenous medications and treating her for suspected haemonchus, she ended up dying. Since she had two babies, our next task was to find the babies to ensure see if they were eating enough. With almost 200 babies running around, this task was easier said than done. We only ended up finding one but it was much older and capable of getting milk from another ewe. After consulting with our teacher, we performed a necropsy and she was infested with haemonchus worms.
Our next set of cases involved a couple of kids in poor shape. The inmate brought us one that he said “acted dumb” and my friend and I found one trapped underneath a board on a goat shelter. Mine looked very thiamine deficient, with its neck arched backward and non-ambulatory. Both of these kids were given milk, treated, and placed into rectal sleeves and warmed in a water bath to bring up their temperatures. The first goat seemed to improve but the prognosis for mine wasn’t looking good. Regardless, we had done everything we could to help.
After going over a few things with the inmate overseeing the goats, we got back on the road and began our four-hour drive home. While we weren’t able to save the ewe and the probability of the babies surviving wasn’t good, they were much better off with our care. Clinical year in veterinary school has so far been about us getting a little hands-on experience while under hawk-like supervision or watching a higher up do everything. This trip was a great experience because we students were calling the shots. If we wanted to treat, we had every tool to do so and we identified and came up with our treatment plan. As a soon-to-be-doctor, it was nice to see that our instructor had faith in us to let us do everything on our own. We all have the medical knowledge and the skills to take care of these animals and I couldn’t feel more ready to go out into practice in a few more months.