Day 10: 6/20 – Sheep Day
This morning we visited the adorable farm of Aviana Vista, owned by an amazing couple who rents out their rooms to others to stay at. The owned a large group of sheep that they kept for no reason other them liking them, and using them as lawnmowers. Sheep are amusing and dumb animals who took a while to rally them together into the pen for us to give them shots. One by one we took turns giving each sheep dewormer, vitamins, and a shot for black leg. Black leg is a usually fatal bacterial disease caused by Clostridium chauvoel. Only a few of the sheep showed slight symptoms of black leg, but we had to give shots to the whole herd so nothing could be spread.
After taking a relaxing dip in the pool at the vista, we traveled to a field where we performed another horse castration. The rain started pouring down while we were there, so we had to wait in the van until it lightened up since we couldn’t perform the surgery in the rain. After the rain stopped I helped Dr. T do the castration, which resulted in a lot of testicle blood on my arm. The surgery had to be done fast since the horse was fighting the ketamine, but we successfully completed the procedure. It’s interesting to see how simple and fast this can be done, and how it is pretty much done the same way at farms in the states as well.
Day 11: 6/21 – Palpations
Today was an early morning, as we all woke up at 5:00 AM to go to a dairy farm. We walked into a building where cows had these sucking machines on their udders, and two were being milked at a time, with one man handling both of them manually. We each had a turn to put the machine on their udders, as well as milk them by hand. I was unsure of how to felt at first, as someone who stopped drinking milk a few years ago (though I occasionally eat ice-cream and other milk-products, I cannot stomach milk on its own). The whole industry is very unnatural and invasive to me, it makes me uncomfortable seeing first-hand how humans capitalize on mother’s milk. I still engaged in the activity though, and shook my thoughts out of my head when watching the dairy cows having free range of the land with their calves, and seeming un-phased and not bothered by their “job”.
Later, we had the opportunity to palpate cows. The farm had many cattle, including these beautiful all white ones, but only the jersey and Holstein mixed cows were used to breed and milk due to their better nature. We went over the reproductive tract of the cow and how to palpate and tell if the girl is pregnant or not. It was a messy job, but very interesting. We palpated by putting out arms into the cow’s anus, and then feeling the cavity wall for the cervix. The position of the cervix shows you if they are pregnant or not, as the cervix will “drop”, or move lower, if pregnant.
Day 12: 6/22 – Pig Day
Today we traveled to a small local pig farm at Cristo Ray. The pungent smell of the pigs was extremely strong as soon as we stepped out of the van. The smell of horse and call stalls are fine for me, however, this odor was difficult for me to handle at first. Luckily, the odor faded as time went on. Dr. T started off with castrating a few of the younger male piglets. I was at first shocked to hear that only horses and dogs receive anesthesia when being neutered, but I guess it isn’t as needed when they are young and easy to restrain, and given pain killers afterwards. We hen gave dewormer and vitamin shots to all of the piglets. Afterwards, we neutered another larger pig, who was given some drugs beforehand due to his size. We then gave more dewormer and vitamin shots to another whole coral of young pigs, where one person had to grab them by their ears and restrain them, another gave the shots, and the third person would spray the pig with a purple dye so we knew which ones had the shot and which didn’t. It was a very ear-piercing, loud, and messy morning. The first neuters were in the pouring rain, which really shows how large animal vets have to be able to stay calm and perform well in all types of weather and environments that they aren’t used to. This day definitely made me aware that I do not wish to work with pigs later in life, despite being interested in being a large animal vet. It was also interesting to see how local pig farms are here, as all of their pigs are raised for meat. The pigs, despite being in small dirty pens, were still with each other and had room to move around, and had veterinarians check them. In the U.S., the meat industry is much larger and harsher.
Day 13: 6/23 – Our Last Farm Day
Today was, sadly, the groups last day of practicals and working with animals. We drove into Barton Creek and split up into groups to work with different herds of cattle in a large Mennonite community. Went with the second group where we corralled about 30-40 cattle and gave them all rabies shots. It had just down poured and I ended up becoming extremely muddy after being slapped with some of the cow’s tails and walking around in the mud. The Mennonites here in Belize are a very interesting and friendly group of people. I was at first worried that they would be wary of us, especially as a group of all females, and myself being a female with tattoos. However, the people were very nice to us and appreciative that we were there to vaccinate their animals. The land here was the most gorgeous scenery that I had seen so far during this whole month, and I was extremely grateful that this was our final field day and grateful of the entire experience I have had in this country.