Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I love animal science!!

I decided I couldn't resist a post about my long, learning filled couple days at the farm (and school).
For a little background.... I am a teacher aide for a sheep production class at USU. Part of this class is to spend the night out at the farm doing lamb watch - taking care of ewes and lambs and fixing any problems that happen during the night. The students go out once every other week or so, but I am on call Tuesday and Thursday nights. On Monday after class, Doc McNeal (the professor) asked me to take on an extra "assignment" as a favor. He wanted me to check on some sows that were due to farrow on Tuesday, so I agreed. Then, the farm manager asked if I could help care for a couple sick lambs by feeding them every four hours throughout the night. Again, I didn't think this would be a problem because assuming the first two feedings went well I could delegate the feedings to the students.
Anyway, I went out Tuesday evening to feed the lambs (went without a hitch) and check the sows. Low and behold, the sow had two piglets already. Throughout the night, I ended up running between the pig barn and the sheep barn to help lamb/farrow seven lambs and 14 piglets (yes, 14 from one sow). In addition to this, we had two ewes prolapse - one was a semi-minor vaginal prolapse which I could easily stick back in and fix. The other was a full rectal prolapse, forcing us to cull the ewe immediately. Anyway, all of this turned out to be an AMAZING learning experience - first of all because I have never worked pigs before so I learned all about farrowing and what is required (for those who don't know, you have to clip the umbilical cord, dip it in iodine, give an iron shot because piglets are born iron deficient, and cut the wolf teeth). I also got to do prolapse repairs which are always good practice. I was at the farm until 5:30 am this morning and got up to go back to the farm at 6:30 am, then studied for an exam which I took this morning.
Tonight I went back out to the farm to check on the piglets and the second sow. She had already had four piglets, one of which had a severe injury to its side. She was missing the skin on one side of her rib cage so I cleaned and bandaged he up and will check on her in the morning (I can't do anything else right now).
So, long story short, I am extremely thankful for the animal science program at the college. I think it provides an ideal environment in which to learn... seriously, where else do you get the chance to farrow, lamb, and fix prolapses all in one night? This hands on learning is FANTASTIC!!!
Now, I'm off to bed - I just hit 48 hours with 1 hour of sleep. Ah, the life of an agriculture student. I'll let everyone know about my exciting news tomorrow... yes, I have a secret.