All In A Day's Work

Testing for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea

Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) is a viral disease of cattle caused by a pestivirus (similar to Border Disease virus in sheep and swine fever virus in pigs). Only ten cows from this herd were tested as they had spent the winter in the barn and if BVD had been present then it would have spread throughout the herd. The cow is led into a cattle crush which holds the animal safely while it is examined.

Photo: To test for BVD David takes a blood sample from a prominent vein under the cow’s tail.

Examining a scouring calf

Once a cow has calved the next big challenge is to get the calf through the first few weeks without scouring. Scours are the main cause of death in calves between 2 and 30 days of age. Calf scours is not a specific disease with a specific cause, but is actually a clinical sign of a disease complex with many possible causes.

Photo: David examines a scouring calf, checking its heart rate and temperature to ensure that there is nothing else wrong with it.

Checking for pregnancy

Scanning is performed 4 – 10 weeks after the cow was inseminated to detect if a foetus is present.

Photo: David uses a portable ultrasound machine to check if a cow is pregnant. He has the scanner in his right hand which he inserts into the cow and the pictures are displayed on the goggles he is wearing.


Scrapie is a fatal, degenerative disease that affects the nervous systems of sheep and goats. It is one of several transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), which are related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or “mad cow disease”) and chronic wasting disease of deer.

Photo: This sheep had died overnight and was brought in by the farmer the next morning. As part of a national scheme for scrapie testing David is removing the head so it can be sent to the lab for testing.

Calf with Septicaemia

When a calf has septicaemia, it has disease producing organisms or their toxins in its blood. Septicaemia in calves is usually the result of a bacterial infection that occurs while the calf is in the uterus, during, or immediately after birth.

Photo: This one week old calf was brought in suffering from dehydration and septicaemia (a blood infection that probably got in through its naval at birth).

Calf with Septicaemia

Photo: The calf was put in an enclosure with straw and a heat lamp. Will and Jennifer gave the calf antibiotics to combat the septicaemia and put it on a drip to help rehydrate it.
Despite the treatment the calf died during the night.

Surgery on Tia (a French Mastiff) suffering from Gastric Dilation-Volvulus

Gastric Dilation-Volvulus is a life threatening condition affecting mainly large breed dogs of any age. It is the result of accumulation of gas, fluid, or a combination of the two in the stomach. In this case it was caused by the dog exercising too vigorously after eating, causing the stomach to twist around the longitudinal axis of the digestive tract.

Photo: Will assists Helen to release trapped gas from Tia’s stomach.

Surgery on Tia (a French Mastiff) suffering from Gastric Dilation-Volvulus

Tia made a full recovery and was back home in a few days.

Photo: Helen untwists the stomach of Tia while Will holds a tube that has been passed down the dog’s throat to her stomach enabling any gas or liquid to escape.

Neutering a Greyhound

Neutering involves the removal of the testes. Neutering a male animal reduces the risk of prostate and testicular cancer. The animal is less likely to develop unwanted behaviour’s such as marking, sexual aggression, and mounting. They are also less likely to escape, roam or fight with other males.

Photo: Helen holds the greyhound while Jennifer sedates him.

Neutering a Greyhound

Photo: Post op before the greyhound is put back in his cage to recover.

Checking a Poodle's teeth

After the sedative has had time to work, general anaesthesia will be induced. This usually involves an intravenous injection, usually into one of the veins in the front leg. Once consciousness is lost an endotracheal tube is placed into the windpipe through the larynx. This is then connected via tubing to an anaesthetic machine which maintains the state of anaesthesia.

Photo: Helen assists Jennifer to insert a tube down the sedated dog’s trachea.

X-Raying a cat

Millie was brought in suffering from unexplained weight loss. There can be many reasons why an animal is losing weight and it is a good idea to initially take an x-ray. The x-ray showed that nothing was physically wrong with her so the weight loss could have been more psychological. Millie was sent home and has since started putting on weight.

Photo: Jennifer examines the x-ray of Millie’s abdomen.

Spaying a kitten

Spaying or neutering cats and dogs is the most common surgery that the vets perform and is the most effective way of stopping the animal from getting pregnant. Spaying lowers the risk of contracting Feline Leukaemia, Immunodeficiency Virus and Infectious Peritonitis Virus.

Photo: Jennifer tries to locate the cat’s ovaries so she can remove them.

Pregnancy checking ewes

One of the major limitations with progress in sheep farming has been the inability to know how many lambs each ewe is carrying in advance of lambing. Having access to this knowledge allows the farmer to control the nutrition of the pregnant ewe more effectively, resulting in a higher survival rate of the new born lambs, more efficient use of expensive feedstuffs and simpler management of the flock.

Photo: Helen uses a portable ultrasound machine to check if the ewes are pregnant.

Spaying a farm cat

Farm cats are mostly kept in order to control the numbers of rats, mice and other vermin in farm buildings and surrounding fields. They are usually not neutered and, within a few years, the farm is over-run with cats and most of them are weakened by malnutrition and inbreeding or die of preventable diseases. Fortunately, more farmers are now having their farm cats neutered/spayed and feed them properly with cat food.

Photo: Will checks for a heartbeat after the cat stops breathing. Unfortunately, in this case, the cat could not be revived.

Internal surgery

Dystocia, more commonly known as difficult calving, is a problem most dairy producers encounter. Consequences range from the need for increased farmer attention to the loss of the cow and calf. Dystocia is a leading cause of calf death at, or shortly after, birth and leads to uterine infections, more retained placentas and longer calving intervals.

Photo: Will internally sutures a cow’s vagina that was torn due to giving birth to a particularly large calf.

Internal surgery

Photo: Will re-threads the needle while a farm worker looks on.

Annual checkup

During an annual checkup the vet will give the cat a thorough physical examination. After a full examination any required vaccinations or booster shots will be administered.

Photo: Will examines an old injury on Ozzy’s paw as part of his annual checkup.

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