Vet students get hands-on experience

SPRUCE GROVE, Alta. — Assisting with calving at the Lewis Farm in Spruce Grove is like being tossed into a pool and told to swim.

Six hundred cows are bred to calve in January, and the University of Calgary veterinary medicine students who recently volunteered to spend time at the central Alberta farm were guaranteed to see some action.

Dr. Roy Lewis, a Westlock, Alta., veterinarian and Lewis family member, said 15 to 20 cows calve each day.

The students were invited to the farm to get hands-on practice watching, helping and spending time around cattle.

Buy Benefits The goal of the weekend was to teach students how to read cows’ body language, learn to handle gates, chutes and squeezes and learn how to tell when a cow was about to calve. As a bonus, they got the chance to pull a calf or assist in a caesarean.

“Caesareans are really rare,” said Lewis, who is usually called from his Westlock practice to the family farm only for unusual cases.

Other family members and full-time staff handle most of the calving.

Veterinarian student Emily Graham said the weekend was also a trial to see if a calving practicum should be added to the new veterinary college’s curriculum.
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