Meagan Meets Pepper
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Twenty-six vet students with little or no dairy cow experience spend three days milking, feeding, watching and learning at Penn Vet’s Marshak Dairy
[August 31, 2011; Kennett Square, PA] –Despite growing up in New Hampshire, where she was surrounded by dairy farms, Meagan Coneeny never milked a cow until coming to Pennsylvania. A first-year student at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, Meagan took advantage of a special program that gave her the opportunity to spend three full days involved in every aspect of dairy management at Penn Vet’s Marshak Dairy even before the semester kicked off. The Dairy is part of Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center campus in Kennett Square, PA.
Around the Dairy, the program is fondly referred to as “I Never Touched a Cow, but I Always Wanted To.” The official name is Introduction to Dairy Production Systems Seminar. It’s an opportunity to introduce Penn Vet students with little or no direct food animal experience to concepts in dairy production medicine, and the role that the veterinarian can play in improving dairy herd health and productivity. The seminar was held August 16, 17 and 18, before classes officially started.
Students spent three full days learning about the life cycle of a dairy cow, including health and growth monitoring, discussed current hot topics in dairy production and took part in milking and feeding of cows and calves. There was also a tour of other local dairies. This year the seminar included 26 students, almost 25% more than in previous years.
Coneeny has worked in a mixed veterinary practice, one that cares for both small and large animals, but was eager to learn the workings of a dairy farm. She plans to pursue a career in food animal medicine. “I really like the idea that you are thinking of herd health and the economics of the business. Plus,” she adds, “I have a soft spot for cows. They work so hard for us and I think its important that we take care of them, too.”
Classmate Sam Gilbert of Vienna, Virginia, had never touched a cow before, but took to milking almost like a pro. “It’s amazing how enormous they are, said Gilbert, and so sweet.” Gilbert enrolled in the seminar so that would have a more well-rounded experience. He plans to pursue a career in veterinary surgery, though as of yet is undecided whether he will care for small or large animals.
The seminar has grown in popularity since it was started a few years ago. Says Jon Garber, VMD, lecturer, member of New Bolton Center’s Field Service and coordinator of the Dairy, “Some of these young men and women enter vet school without ever having touched a cow, or even seen one up close. They are so excited, so enthusiastic,” he said. “It was a real honor to teach them.”
Penn's School of Veterinary Medicine is one of the world's premier veterinary schools. Founded in 1884, the School was built on the concept of Many Species, One Medicine. The birthplace of veterinary specialties, the School serves a distinctly diverse array of animal patients, from pets to horses to farm animals at our two campuses. In Philadelphia, on Penn's campus, are the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital for companion animals, as well as classrooms, laboratories and the School's administrative offices. The large-animal facility, New Bolton Center, in Kennett Square, Pa., encompasses hospital facilities for the care of horses and food animals as well as diagnostic laboratories serving the agriculture industry. The School has successfully integrated scholarship and scientific discovery with all aspects of veterinary medical education.
Visit us on-line at www.vet.upenn.edu