As veterinarians, being able to perform rectal palpation is a very important skill. Naturally, we have had many opportunities to practice through our theriogenology class. During a palpation, one of the biggest goals is to find the ovaries, which will help you determine whether the animal has ovulated and if she is pregnant. While it may seem like a simple task, it’s much easier said than done.
During previous palpation attempts, besides the cervix and uterus, I was never sure what I was actually feeling. I don’t think I had ever found an ovary at that point. But when you do manage to find it, something amazing happens. While watching one of my friends palpate a horse, I was talking to our teacher about the process. Meanwhile, a massive smile and a look of pure bliss spread across her face. The teacher knew this look, and many had even told us about it before. She had found an ovary, and we both immediately knew it based on her facial expressions.
Now it was my turn. Having never done much with horses before, I was a little leery about doing a rectal palpation on a horse, but everything turned out alright. After a little while of searching and going almost shoulder deep, I felt one of the small ovaries. The smile hit my face, and everything was great.
But as a cow guy, I wanted to find one on a cow. A few weeks later during another cow lab, I was finally able to definitively find an ovary. By manipulating it, I could feel the surface and the structures on it, and I was able to position it between my middle and ring finger like we were taught. It was one of the best feelings ever, and I definitely had the typically massive smile on my face. And then I was able to find 4 or 5 more on other cows. Now that I know what I’m looking for, things will only get easier from here.