I started a job milking on a farm up here this weekend, and I have to say I love getting back into milking. UVM had a great dairy program called CREAM, so I first fell in love with dairy cows there and have worked at a couple of odd milking jobs here and there since. Cows are basically giant dogs in terms of their personality, so they’re almost always a joy to be around, unless they’re pooping on your head (which I’m sorry to say has happened to me before).
I also think that anyone who claims to be small animal only should work with cows at one point. Really everybody should work with a cow at some point. Dairy cows provide us with milk and cheese and ice cream, so that’s pretty awesome, and beef cows provide us with steak, also awesome. But on top of that, I also think that working on a farm shows people how much hard work went into building our agriculture system and how much work it still takes today to keep agriculture alive.
It’s humbling to be working for the farmers who one day I’ll be working for in a different way. Being vet students in the barn, we also have a little bit higher expectation of our level of animal care knowledge. As future vets, we should be observant of anything wrong with the cows: lameness, mastitis, prolapsed vaginal wall (which I saw yesterday and had a minor freakout about), in general not feeling well, etc. This provides the farmer with important feedback on his herd health, and though we barely know anything in the grand scheme of veterinary things, we can generally point out a particular problem and maybe even a solution. Though I’m very sore and tired, it’s nice to get that farm experience in vet school that I miss so much from undergrad.