On the last few days of the trip, I had many early mornings and lots of interesting experiences. We visited a Mennonite dairy farm, palpated cows to determine whether or not they were pregnant, worked on a pig farm (giving injections and castrating) and created a presentation for the class on a topic of our choice. The pig farm stood out the most to me. The animals were kept in conditions that would have a farm shut down immediately in the states. The pens (if that’s what you’d like to call them) were caked with feces, seeming as if they hadn’t been cleaned properly in months. The pigs had hot drinking water, which is far from optimal. Each pig was caked with feces and far too many were packed into a pen. We learned that this is common practice within most developing countries, including Belize. It was definitely shocking.
Palpating the cows was also an extremely interesting experience. I’d learned a lot about the process in my practicum and reproduction classes, but I was never given the opportunity to try it for myself. Although it was admittedly pretty gross, it was amazing feeling the cervix of the animal and physically being able to “feel” their pregnancy.
Visiting the Mennonite farm was a breath of fresh air. The animals were well cared for and genuinely seemed to be very happy. There were some eye lesions and infections, but they were likely due to the vast space of land the cows were given to graze on. The man who owned the farm was absolutely adorable and so eager to talk to us. It was obvious that animal welfare was extremely important to him.