Field Day for veterinary students

Bryan McKay with veterinary students on the Annual Grass Safari – 2012

Veterinary students with Bryan Mckay on Grass Safari 2012

Grass Safari 2012: Bryan McKay, senior DPSL consultant, discusses dairy farm systems and cow signs with veterinary students. (Photo courtesy of Dairy Cattle Vets)

In 2012, Bryan McKay, senior consultant at DPSL, took a group of final year veterinary students to visit two farms that operate quite different farm systems. This was the annual Grass Safari for Massey Veterinary Science students in their last year of the degree.

He discussed the expanding global market for protein and the need to develop our New Zealand dairy industry to meet that demand.

Low-intensity pasture-based dairy farm system

The first farm operates a low-intensity pasture-based system using dairy cow feed supplements as required. The high quality of the pasture management on this farm generates a reliable harvest, and the students were impressed by the excellent condition of the cows and calves raised on the property.

Bryan spent some time teaching the veterinary students to observe the herd’s behaviour and “cow signals”. Understanding cow signs, the students learned, will enable them to detect off-colour cows early. Intervention at this stage can avoid the costly bills that will eventuate if treatment is deferred.

High-intensity dairy farm system

Bryan then took the students to see a high-intensity farm system where cows are housed in herd homes to overcome the various challenges to farming on wetter land. This innovative herd management was very interesting for the students to learn about and, again, gave Bryan an opportunity to teach the students what to look for during the different stages of calving, and the signs exhibited by cows that were in the early stages of deterioration.  He went through the technique of body-condition scoring thoroughly, and enjoyed the lively discussions and question sessions that were initiated by the veterinary students.

Thank you to Dairy Cattle Vets, who gave us permission to use the photo, which appeared in their Newsletter:  Volume 30, Number 2, December 12.