One of my favourite lecturers at vet school was an old cattle vet. Retired from practice long ago, his demeanour was best described as “jolly but practical” and he had seen many years of students pass before him.
Many years. It used to be he would be teaching bovine obstetrics to a room full of strapping Aussie blokes, each more than capable of lugging a 40kg jersey calf around on their shoulders. Nowadays most of our class were women, and a fair chunk of those were petite international students, barely bigger than the aforementioned 40kg jersey calf themselves.
He knew very well that most of these smaller women were likely to end up in small animal practice, but that wasn’t going to stop him from trying to convert them to the joys of cattle medicine.
I remember him very clearly in the bovine obstetrics lectures,pulling a calf is a seriously physical task. Cattle are BIG and they are all muscle. When a cow decides she is going to push a 40kg calf at you the simple fact is that you cannot push against her. That uterus of hers is stronger than your forearms, and she’s prepared to push all day. Fortunately, there are drugs for that.
Our lecturer would merrily tell us some very colourful stories about pulling calves and the sorts of farmers he had encountered, including their unfortunate tendency to try to pull a calf first, using a tractor if need be.
Attaching a calf to a tractor and then driving away from the cow does not, in fact, make it any easier for her to give birth. If it’s stuck, it’s stuck, and no tractor is substitute for a lot of lube and some intra-uterine calf leg Tetris.
So what do you do, he specifically asked the international girls huddled down the front, when you show up at a farm, and the farmer, built like a brick house, and his son, also built like a brick house, have already tried and failed to pull this calf?
You walk up there, and you show them how it’s done.
You have a veterinary a science education and ten litres of lube. You can get the calf out. Use your brain, then give them the ropes to pull and use their muscles. Take control. Tell them what to do. Climb onto a box if you have to. If you’re particularly little, you can get both hands up there. You CAN pull that calf.
Up until that point, I don’t think those students actually expected to be able to really do it. But he expected them to.
And if all else fails, he continued, do a Caesarian. They won’t be judgemental if you didn’t pull a calf if they’re already tried anyway.
And you know, I personally know at least one of those petite little students ended up in cattle practice.
You can do it.
Reblogging old content for the Disenfranchised Duckling.
This is important for us, the
petite vet students who normally look tiny next to a Angus bull and a
Honestly, a big bull will send any human flying, no mater how big they are. 400-800kg of opinionated beef will always be stronger than a human, no matter how ‘beefy’ the human is.
If you are shot, you are less likely to injure your back when working on the feet of cattle and horses.
If you are petite, you may get both hands into the birth canal of a large animal, and you may be able to treat dystocia in alpaca or sheep without resorting to caesareans.
If you have thin arms, you wont feel nearly as bad about preg testing cattle.
Large animals are always going to be bigger than you, but they will also be bigger than your largest classmates
The only difference is that you’re used to it.