Carlie Gordon, Washington State University
Background: Visual observation of an arched back in dairy cattle while they are standing and walking is one criterion for assessing lameness through locomotion scoring. However, observation of a back arch while cows are in stanchions is only variably associated with lameness. If the observation of back arch could be better defined, the sensitivity of this method might be improved. It was the purpose of this study to evaluate the degree of back arch that would differentiate lame from non-lame cows while in stanchions and assess if the back arch posture in the lock-up is a predictable observation for lameness.
Methods: Locomotion scores were collected for all lactating Holstein cows on one farm. Cows with scores of two or greater were used for this study. Eighteen cows received a locomotion score of ≥ 3 and 55 cows received a locomotion score of ≤ 2. Digital photographs of these cows while in stanchions and from videos as they exited the milking parlor were taken. Images were analyzed for the degree of back arch, “deviation from flat”, where a flat back was considered 180°. In addition, cows in one pen were observed 5 successive times while stanchioned to evaluate time in lockup effects on the presence of a back arch.
Results: The angle of deviation from cows during lockup was not associated with locomotion score. However, there was a trend for cows that were determined to have a locomotion score of ≥ 3 to have back angles that deviated further from 180 °. From the successive observations, back-arch was not a consistent observation but the proportion of observation time a cow was observed with a back arch was significantly greater for lame cows vs. non lame cows.
Conclusions: Our results indicate that the back arch observation, although inconsistently associated with locomotion scoring, could be used as a simple screening tool by veterinarians and dairy producers if frequent observations are made while the cows are stanchioned.
*Note: An organge paint stick was used to mark the withers and tail-head of each cow, pictures of each cow in lockup were then taken and at a later date a program called vistametrix was used to assess the the angle of each cow’s back
Entry, Life as a Vet Student
Stephanie Silberstang, Cornell
I honestly believed up until the first day of orientation at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, that I wanted to be a veterinarian. Not a large animal veterinarian or a small animal veterinarian, not an ophthalmologist or a cardiologist, just a plain old veterinarian. I never got the memo that said there were options! Either that or I did not read that memo.
From that day on I began identifying my interests. I had always enjoyed working with horses. I rode as a child and worked at a therapeutic horseback riding camp before attending vet school so there was equine medicine. And of course, I loved dogs. But when I joined the Shelter Medicine Club I realized that I was passionate about animal rescue and adoption. I have also had a cockatiel since I was thirteen and did not realize that avian medicine was a career choice I could make and that peaked my interest. In the early days of vet school I also shadowed in the emergency clinic and loved the thrill. So I gathered all of these interests: equine, avian, emergency, and shelter medicine. When asked my interests, I typically get some funny looks at my reply.
I had to decide where to go from there. What career choice would allow me to pursue all of my interests? During an externship at the Houston SPCA I worked with horses and parrots that were shelter animals and we often saw emergencies, such as, heat stroke and trauma. However, this was a very rare combination and I knew that I would not be able to fully pursue these interests together. I decided to do a small animal rotating internship at a private practice to further my clinical skills, especially in emergency medicine. This practice also has an avian and exotic service that will allow me to hone my parrot knowledge and skills.
My advice to anyone who has numerous interests or does not know what their interests are yet: pursue everything. The amount of general knowledge I gained from taking mixed animal rotations, going on shelter medicine and equine externships, and being a member of a broad range of clubs is indispensable. Although I chose a more specific career, my interests remain the same.