As yet another Wednesday afternoon came along, four future vet students made their way down to the farm for experience in animal handling. This time, the school calves had to be weaned.
To do this, we would have to put Easywean nose rings on the calves. These plastic nose rings (bright orange and crowned with spikes - soo punk) are designed to act as a barrier to prevent the calves from reaching their mother’s milk, while still allowing them to eat. Easywean nose rings can even be used on children :D Just kidding.
First we had to lead all the cows from their paddock up to the cattle crush area. We were all pretty comfortable with doing this, thanks to the practice we have had in the past few weeks. Then, we worked to herd the calves one by one into the cattle crush. This took a while, as the calves, understandably, didn’t really want to walk into a strange looking confined area. The next challenge was to confine their head so we could put the nose rings on. This was tricky, because the calves didn’t want to move forward. Pushing them didn’t do that much, because they each weigh around 200 kilos, so we tried the next best thing. Food! We grabbed a biscuit of hay (for some reason all the cows suddenly became very interested) and dropped it where we wanted the calf to move. In no time, the youngster’s head was confined in the head crush.
We lifted the chin bar so that the calf’s head was elevated. Then, Mrs Roberts showed us how to correctly attach the nose rings, and most of us had a go. Mrs Roberts suggested that we use our fingers to search for the best place to attach the nose ring. This meant reaching into the cattle’s noses. A great experience. In no time our hands were covered in snot and spit (which, Mrs Roberts assured us, was healthy) but we had all successfully attached the nose rings to the calves.
From there on it was smooth sailing as we let the poor calves out to graze (who were surely tired of having human fingers in their nose) and ran the older cows through the crush, taking the opportunity to practice drenching them with water by sticking a “gun” down their throats. After that it was time for the cows to all go home, and thankfully Desiree did not desire (haha get it okay no sorry) to run off on her own little adventure this time. We packed up, sweaty and snotty, but satisfied with the arvo's work.
Angela Xuan and Crystal Mak
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