Ve­teri­nary sci­ence ex­pe­ri­enced first hand

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - FRONT PAGE - AN­NETTE BEARD

Stand­ing be­fore the rest­less young bull who, though par­tially blind, could sense their pres­ence, the stu­dents held back. They were in an im­mac­u­lately clean barn sep­a­rated from the bull by a fence panel as he was guided into a squeeze chute while teacher Perry Ma­son and the vet­eri­nar­ian, Dr. Karen Sher­man, talked about the bull.

Last week, the 10 stu­dents vis­ited Oak View An­i­mal Clinic and learned about treat­ing cat­tle for pink eye.

The vet sci­ence class is part of the Ca­reer and Tech­ni­cal pro­gram at Pea Ridge High School, ac­cord­ing to school su­per­in­ten­dent Rick Neal, who said the district re­ceived a grant this past year that has helped fund the class.

“We’re re­ally ex­cited about the work Perry (Ma­son) is do­ing,” Neal said. “The vet sci­ence class is a big part of the Ca­reer and Tech­ni­cal ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram.”

Stu­dents Lexi Carl­son, Lind­sey Fletcher and Syd­ney Gran­tham hope to be­come vet­eri­nar­i­ans. Oth­ers want to study ar­eas re­lated to ve­teri­nary medicine and an­i­mal hus­bandry.

The stu­dents gath­ered around an 18-month-old 1,500-pound An­gus bull re­strained in a squeeze chute, while Dr. Sher­man ex­plained: “This is not just a barn, it’s a hos­pi­tal.”

“The staff knows it has to be dis­in­fected … bleached … you don’t use the same nee­dle,” she ex­plained. She is care­ful to not drive her ve­hi­cle onto a farm where she may spread dis­ease. She said dis­eases on a farm can be spread by car­ry­ing it on shoes.

“As farms get big­ger and the fam­ily farm goes away, fence lines are more im­por­tant,” she said.

Sher­man ex­plained that the owner of this young bull vac­ci­nates and tries to de­ter flies, but a fly can spread pink eye from one farm to an­other. She said the treat­ment for sav­ing this bull is ex­pen­sive, but he is planned to be a breed­ing bull and sight is es­sen­tial. If he does go blind, Sher­man said, he will go to slaugh­ter. The owner only re­coups a por­tion of the ex­pense in buy­ing him. She can­not use cer­tain an­tibi­otics in

his treat­ment be­cause they are pro­hib­ited in food­grade an­i­mals.

She said she rec­om­mends that farm­ers treat ev­ery an­i­mal be­fore win­ter is over be­cause cows can carry pink eye even though they do not ex­hibit symp­toms and it can be passed on to their calves. “Some herds are com­pletely cured by do­ing the over-win­ter treat­ment. Most peo­ple don’t re­al­ize that,” Sher­man said.

“A lot of old farm­ers will say a cow with pink eye will get bet­ter in three weeks with or without med­i­ca­tion,” Sher­man said. “That’s not true.”

Ma­son, who owns cat­tle on a farm in McDon­ald County, Mo., said his cows don’t have pink eye, but calves do. He re­al­ized what Sher­man was say­ing ap­plies to his herd.

As Sher­man and her as­sis­tant tied the young bull’s head to one side so she could ap­ply an­tibi­otic oint­ment, the stu­dents noted his strength.

“It’s not about how big you are,” Sher­man ex­plained to the stu­dents. “It’s about work­ing smarter, not stronger.”

Each stu­dent was of­fered an op­por­tu­nity to touch the bull and see him up close.

“I learned about dif­fer­ent med­i­ca­tions and what they were used for, along with how pink eye is spread,” said Carl­son, a se­nior. “What I found in­ter­est­ing was that pink eye was more com­mon than I thought orig­i­nally, and how eas­ily it can spread to other an­i­mals.” She hopes to earn a de­gree in ve­teri­nary medicine from Texas A&M.

Fletcher said she en­rolled in the vet sci­ence class be­cause she would like to be able to have and know how to care for an­i­mals.

“I am in vet sci­ence be­cause I love to work with an­i­mals,” sopho­more Jayson Frasier said. “My sis­ter lives on a farm down near Fort Smith, and I love to visit them. I have worked with dif­fer­ent an­i­mals rang­ing from rab­bits to cat­tle. Hope­fully, af­ter I get out of high school, I plan on mov­ing down there and help­ing them with the farm. I do plan on go­ing to the Col­lege of the Ozarks to be a me­chanic but I will get plenty of time work­ing with an­i­mals as well.

“I learned a lot about pink eye and dif­fer­ent ways to treat it. It was fun to get to see the process that they go through to help that poor bull to get back to good health,” Frasier said.

“What I found in­ter­est­ing was that a 100-pound per­son can re­straint an 18-month-old bull,” Syd­ney Gran­tham said. “I learned that you have to keep your work place clean so that all the other an­i­mals do not get what the sick an­i­mals have. Also, that blind bulls are scary. If they can’t see you in front of them they will plow you over.”

Gran­tham ex­pressed grat­i­tude to Ma­son for tak­ing the class and help­ing them learn about the blind bull, and how to help his eyes not hurt be­cause the sun­light hurts their eyes. The bull has re­gained part of his vi­sion in his right eye.”

Editor’s note: To be con­tin­ued next week.

TIMES pho­to­graphs by An­nette Beard

Stu­dents from the Vet Sci­ence class of the Ca­reer and Tech­ni­cal pro­gram at Pea Ridge High School ex­pe­ri­enced care for large an­i­mals first hand dur­ing a visit to Oak View An­i­mal Clinic thanks to teacher Perry Ma­son, right, and Dr. Karen Sher­man,...

TIMES pho­to­graph by An­nette Beard

Pea Ridge High School stu­dents Leala Sor­rell, Makenna Hig­gins, Syd­ney Gran­tham and Jen­nell Smith watch as vet­eri­nar­ian Dr. Karen Sher­man shows them an ul­cer in the eye of an 18-month bull. The stu­dents from the ve­teri­nary sci­ence class at Pea Ridge...

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