Building plans and construction of animal houses (Day 172)

Animal Hygiene Animal House Design Plan

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Vet School Success

Another Thursday and another day of animal hygiene, today we started looking at how temperature is managed and the different ways that heat is lost from the buildings. We then started looking at interpreting architect drawings and plans for construction to be able to calculate the required ventilation for the animals as well as for their lighting and space requirements.

Animal Hygiene Animal House Design PlanSadly this is a skill that I don’t think I’ll get to use as it is such a specialist area and one that I feel is not used as there is not much construction in new farm facilities. It is however very interesting to learn, and does help reinforce how the environmental conditions that the animals are kept in are controlled. Sadly however it is not the most exciting thing to write about, hopefully this will get better in a couple of weeks once I get out onto some farms and see some living, breathing animals!!! 🙂

There are also rumours that we actually have to design our own animal housing as part of our final assessment in this module. This would actually be interesting as I am not sure whether I would go for an intensive or extensive design…

The Intestines and visiting the hospital (Day 171)

New hospital in Kosice, Slovakia

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Supreme Petfoods

Well today has been long, Anatomy lecture this morning was at 7:15am and I’ve just got back this evening from self study at 9pm. The good news is that I got a B in my anatomy credit test this week on the Esophagus and the simple and complex stomachs. I got a little confused with the name of the opening between the larynx and the trachea which lost me the A today however I am still pretty pleased.

Anatomy today was looking at the intestines and the topography (layout) of the abdominal cavity which was really interesting as its at the stage where I am trying to learn every single thing possible to prepare for surgery next year! For example those that read my physiology post on digestion the other day will know that you can listen for stomach sounds on the left side of the animal which is where the stomach is located. However the intestines are on the right side meaning that the animal needs to be in a different position to access these different organs.

Something I have been trying to arrange since I arrived here was vaccinations, and with summer fast approaching I feel its essential for me to get my Tick Borne Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). I went with a friend to the hospital today to try and get this done, and also see about having my wisdom tooth with a broken crown removed. Now walking round trying to find stomatology we met a dermatologist who randomly tried to sell us a “very good cream for dry skin” for 2.5 euros which was interesting. I did however manage to get a prescription to pick up the TBE vaccine which I plan on starting once I deal with my tooth.

New hospital in Kosice, SlovakiaThe hospital here is not run like in the UK but has different private clinics run by independent doctors for various specialities. It’s kinda good as you get to see a specialist in the field you need, however can involved running around. We visited the 2nd floor for stomatology to be sent to the 4th floor before then being sent to the 5th floor to find a oral surgeon capable of doing a surgical extraction of the tooth. The good news here is however I do now have an appointment for x-ray on Friday morning at 8am, however in typical Slovak fashion the surgeon said that they would see how busy they are as too if they will do the surgery on Friday morning. I am pretty petrified of dentists (though find animal teeth fascinating) so also have arranged for some sedation for the procedure which is under local anaesthetic. It’s going be interesting as the surgeon needs to open a flap, cut the tooth in half, and then extra the two roots separately to one another.

Anyways enough about that, after getting back from the hospital I headed into self-study to recap the intestinal system covered in lecture today as its a large topic area so I wanted a head start. Looking through the digestive tract of the pig I randomly discovered that it also had the cervix, uterus, uterine horns and ovaries intact. I found this pretty interesting as it was totally unexpected so couldn’t help but snap a photo to share!

Click to show Image
WARNING: This image is from a dissection and shows the pigs reproductive tract

The cervic, uterus and ovaries of the pigs reproductive tract in vet school

Fish farms and the function of glucose… (Day 170)

Fish Farm production fish farming systems

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Pet Webinars

This week the bee’s lecture was cancelled so this morning I got a little extra time to work on my Emergency First Aid for Animals book which was pretty cool and is coming along nicely. I didn’t make my goal however will also be selling the electronic version of the book through this website very shortly, in the meantime you can get it here: http://www.indiegogo.com/a-lifetime-helping-animals-vet-student/x/811619.

Anyways this week we still had a diseases of fish lecture looking at fish production systems (very cool!) and the problems associated with this. The common misconception here is that fish farming is just putting some fish into tanks, letting them grow and then selling them. I remember when I was very young visiting a salmon farm near Aviemore in Scotland and thinking it was more fun than that it was producing food to eat. This however is not the case as when a single tank may contain half a million fish getting things right is essential with complex infrastructure and processes. I am planning some individual diary entries on specific fish so for today will keep it to general information.

Fish Farm production fish farming systemsNow the production process starts with the design of the facilities, fish at different life stages require different conditions with water temperature and space. On farms these may be on separate buildings or tanks, each having an isolated water supply. One of the farms we looked at today spent years getting permits before even starting to allow them to source some of their water from a local river, and discharge water back into the river – even like this they still discharged more than they took!

The problems with the production systems include temperature, water filtration and feeding, the failure of one of these systems can be catastrophic for the animals causing the death of tens of thousands of fish in a single tank! Common problems with farmed fish is that they are not encouraged to move and recently there are new circular tank systems that have been developed producing a current and so encouraging the fish to swim against it causing a better quality of meat.

The biggest problem here however is the economics of production, farm owners are constantly asked for certain native fish, however these may take longer to grow which means higher food costs meaning the fish is unaffordable to buy. Even worse I believe is where it takes more little fish to feed the bigger fish during production (for example salmon takes 3 tonnes of little fish as food to produce 1 tonne of salmon to sell). Anyways this was the diseases of fish lecture today.

After this we had a physiology practical where we were looking at the absorption and digestion of glucose in the body systems though the Oral Glucose Absorption Test. For this we used rabbits checking the blood glucose before than after giving the rabbits a drink of glucose solution and then measuring the blood glucose at 30 minute intervals to produce a glucose curve. This is one of the most basic tests of insulin production and can be used to identify problems which is pretty cool.

The salivary glands of the digestive tract… (Day 169)

Histology of the anal sac and anal glands

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Find Pet Boarding

Through the past semester I’ve come to realise that though the subjects are taught seperately that they are intrinsically linked. We’ve just finished the function of the digestive system in physiology and are now looking at the digestive system in anatomy and in histology. In addition to which we are also looking at animal nutrition. Today we started with looking at the salivary glands of the mouth which not only product enzymes to help start the digestion of food but help the movement of food along the digestive tract. These are located in the base and roof of the mouth along with the cheek and on the surface of the tongue.

The glandular stomach then also secretes mucus and digestive enzymes along with “gastric juice” to help the digestion of food. Then entering the top of the small intestine with the duodenum you have the entrances of the pancreatic and hepatic (liver) ducts which add more digestive power to the mix.

We finished today looking at the rectum and anus including the histology of the anal sacs (which contain the anal glands) in the dog which as vets we have the pleasure of expressing. For something that can contain so much foul smelling liquid these glands are extremely small under the microscope!

Histology of the anal sac and anal glands
The anal sac with the anal glands in the purple area.

Microbiology, Nutrition, and Emergency Fluid Therapy… (Day 166)

Pathogenic E. coli unstained microscopic sample

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Spikes World

The end of my second week back in my second semester of vet school and today is a killer. Animal Nutrition started at 8am and I am solidly in lectures and practicals until around 5:30pm today. The highlight of the day has to be a guest lecture by an emergency vet in Surrey on emergency fluid therapy.

So animal nutrition today was looking at the determination of dry matter in animal feed. Basically the first step in understanding the nutritional value of a food is understanding just how much of it is nutrients and how much just plain water (which whilst important has little nutritional value). This is done by weighing and then heating the sample in a furnace until there remains no water, and then storing the sample in a desiccator whilst cooling to prevent the re-absorption of moisture. The sample is then weighed again and the difference in weight is the water content which is then used to calculate the dry matter of the feed.

Then time for microbiology (well special bacteriology) and this week we spent it looking at Escherichia coli which is one of the most common bacteria. Most people have levels of E. coli existing as mutualist in the intestinal tract however if they get the chance they will cause disease. In fact there are two different types of E. coli strains, those that are pathogenic and those that are not pathogenic. Whilst being common the severity of some of the strains is horrifying, recently the strain E. coli 0157:H7 has emerged as a food borne, zoonotic pathogenic strain that causes the hemorrhagic colitis-haemolytic uraemic syndrome (aka causes the breakdown of blood vessels and tissues). This strain has a high mortality (death rate) with just between 10 – 100 of the bacteria required to be infectious. Anyways in the lab we are running standard protocols to gain proficiency in the identification of bacteria for later on in practice. The most basic of these is simply preparing a unstained sample for examination under the microscope which allows the observation of motility as many bacteria are killed by staining methods. This is a pathogenic strain of E. coli unstained under the microscope, these small rods are bacteria which are actually moving around…

Pathogenic E. coli unstained microscopic sampleA stained sample was then prepared using the Gram Staining technique which allows basic identification of gram postive (which stain blue) and gram negative bacteria (which stain red).

Gram Negative pathogenic strain of E. coli under the microscopeAnyways onto my last lecture of the day, the take home message was that even though fluids are commonly used they are still classed as drugs and if used incorrectly are lethal. Basically the fluid that makes up the body is either stored in the blood vessels, or outside of the blood vessels in and around cells. There are two situations with fluid loss, haemorrhage with fluid lost just from blood vessels, or dehydration where fluid is lost from across the entire body. Now obviously there is more fluid in the body than just in the blood so losing fluid just from the blood is life threatening whereas dehydration whilst needing treatment is not life threatening. On that note I will leave you for this week.

This evening I am leaving for Budapest for the weekend, one of the benefits of attending a international university is making friends in many different countries and I’ve a friend going home to Hungary this weekend. I want to visit the Budapest Zoo, and the Aquarium to give me a jump start on my diseases of fish module for this semester (as well as to take a weekend away from dorms!).

Getting the ventilation right for farm animals… (Day 165)

Random hazard warning sign on door of heart exploding

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Vet School Success

The weeks nearly over and its time for Animal Hygiene again (check out last weeks diary to learn what is animal hygiene) and today we are looking at ventilation in animal houses. Now ventilation is important with animals not only because of heat, but because of the waste products from the animals (urine & feces) producing what can be harmful gases. In addition ventilation also plays a role in the management of the moisture content within the air which prevents condensation and all the nasty moulds that this causes!

Now there are basically three types of ventilation:

  • Passive where the air change is due to natural things like cold air meeting hot air.
  • Negative pressure where air is sucked out of the building by fans
  • Positive pressure where air is pulled into the building by fans

Now though you may have thought it was the realm of architects us vets need to be able to calculate how big the air outlets and inlets are using the air:water saturation level as a guide. Keeping the flow of air moving is important, however its also important to ensure that the speed of this is below 3meters per second so as not to create a draught for animals. To do this we use both the size of the openings and the method of ventilation used with a few different formulas and reference tables to get the correct area needed for the ventilation inlets and outlets.

Anyways, enough that I am trying to keep away from maths here as much as possible (anyone applying to vet school? Maths is essential!!!) so will leave it there. We did notice this sign on a door on the way out though and though we have some theories what is behind this door we’re not sure so any suggestions or ideas are welcome in the comments below!

Random hazard warning sign on door of heart exploding

The stomachs, and the start of “Horse Riding”… (Day 164)

Snow covered road to UVM Kosice dorms in Slovakia

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Supreme Pet Foods

Well today was my first anatomy credit test of the semester and covered the stuff I learnt about the animal mouth last week. We’ve a different lecturer this semester so there was a change in the exam structure with two of us being examined at the same time instead of the individual exams we had last semester. I’m still not sure which method I prefer more however today I did finish with an A!

We then went on to look at the two different types of stomach (complex and simple) and their differences across the animal species. Basically ruminants which eat grass have a specialised system for digesting the cellulose in the cell walls which the simple stomach cannot handle. This consists of a complex stomach with four different chambers including the Rumen, Reticulum, Omasum and Abomasum (for a description of the structures check out Monday’s diary for histology of the stomach). The simple stomach has just a single compartment which secretes enzymes and digestive juices to help breakdown the food that is eaten. Though I had looked at the complex stomach before in my previous degree it was fascinating to go into so much more depth looking at the different areas, and how it changes with age.

In young ruminant animals for example there is a gastric groove called the sulcus ventriculi which extends from the entrance through the reticulum, omasum and nearly to end of the abomasum and is formed from muscular lips. In unweaned animals this groove often closes to form a tube allowing the mothers milk to bypass the sections of the stomach responsible for digesting plant matter and straight into the abomasum where it is absorbed into the body. As the animal matures the tube flattens out until it is no longer used.

This afternoon I started horse riding which is an optional module available to the post bachelor students here at UVM Kosice. The name is a little deceptive as it is in fact a complete equine 101 module covering basic horse care, rehabilitation, handing and off course a little riding once the weather gets a bit better. The lecture today covered the different types of rehabilitation that are used for horses. Check out the road back to dorms with the snow we’ve had this afternoon…

Snow covered road to UVM Kosice dorms in Slovakia
Today’s snow covering the road to dorms…

Inside the Bee hive with honey bee’s and an introduction to Diseases of Fish (Day 163)

Vet School Puffer Fish - Diseases of fish

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Pet Webinars

Well today started with Diseases of Bee’s which has a excellent lecturer, we moved to a new larger classroom today and were greeted by a beehive (minus the bee’s!). The modern beehive is generally a wooden box with a loose lid and loose base which can be easily stack-able. Inside this box there are frames held vertically with a honeycomb lining made from wax like this…

Beehive wax honeycombe frame vet school
Honeycomb frame from a beehive

Worker bee’s produce two products, honey, and beeswax (which is what the honeycomb framework is made from). The honey is stored within the cells in the wax honeycomb with the bee’s sealing the entrance to the cell with a layer of wax as in the picture below.

Vet School honeycomb frame with honey in sealed wax cells
Honeycomb with honey in sealed cells

The honeycomb is also important for the production of new bee’s as the queen bee will lay her eggs in the cells (one egg to one cell). To understand this I should probably explain how the colony is organised. There are 3 types of bee’s within a colony:

  • Queen – Each colony only has a single queen that usually lives 3 – 5 years and is responsible for laying egg’s, and in addition to ensuring that no other queen females reach adulthood. The queen is diploid.
  • Worker Bee’s – These are the females in the colony and perform the function of harvesting pollen, building the honeycomb and creating the honey These are also diploid in terms of genetics.
  • Drone Bee’s – These are the males in the colony and are responsible for the general housekeeping, fertilising the eggs and looking after the young. These are haploid in terms of genetics and are actually kicked out of the colony at winter!

So the queen bee uses the wax honeycomb to lay eggs which are then sealed with wax by the drone bee’s. The worker bee’s after collecting pollen turn it into honey and fill the cells of the honeycomb with it sealing it in. The production (or reproduction) of bee’s is something I will look at more next time I write about bee’s as I must get onto some fish now!

This was followed by Diseases of Fish, this week we continued working our way through the massive taxonomy list of fish species. As I did not introduce this last week I’ll look at some general background. Fish are cold-blooded (the technical term for this is poikilotherms) typically with backbones, gills and fins. Fish make up around 57% of all living animals with around 27,977 species with the smallest being Paedocypris progenetica measuring 7.9mm long, and the largest being the whale shark Rhincodon typus which measures 12m long and weighs 12 tonnes!

Now fish can live in temperatures from -2 degrees Celsius in Antarctic waters through to 40 degrees Celsius in hot springs. They live in areas from 5km above sea level, and as discovered in 2007 through to 25,000 feet deep water (the snailfish).They range from pretty coloured through to the pretty intimidating looking.

Vet School Puffer Fish - Diseases of fish

In terms of the taxonomy. Fish belong to the domain Eukaryota, the kingdom Animalia, subkingdom Eumetazoa, superphylum Deuterostomia, phylum Chordata. Within this there are several different subphylums, superclasses, classes and species which I’ve got to learn for my exam in just 6 weeks time! With that I will leave you until tomorrow!

Histology of the complex ruminant stomach (Day 162)

Vet School Diary Histology Bovine Rumen Section under the Microscope

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Find Pet Boarding

Start of my second week of my second semester, last week vanished in a blur and this week I have tried to plan my time better to get a lot more of the research for my Emergency First Aid for Animals book completed.

Now I think I have previously said before how the stomach with ruminants is divided into four different compartments; the rumen and reticulum, omasum and the abomasum. Each of these has a specific role to play in digestion and specific structure to match. This is known as the complex stomach and the esophagus enters this between the reticulum and rumen. The rumen is the largest stomach compartment and is connected to the reticulum with a large opening allowing food to be passed back and forth between the two. Remembering that ruminants eat plant matter the rumen is where fermentation takes place with a large amount of bacteria and protozoa act on the contents breaking it down. The surface of this is covered in small papillae (low conical projections) and looks like this.

Vet School Diary Histology Bovine Rumen Section under the Microscope
Bovine Rumen Histology

The reticulum has a honeycomb like structure and sits next to the rumen and starts the mechanical breakdown of food into fine particles. This compartment is usually involved in “hardware disease” where cows swallow screws, nails wire or other hardware and it embeds into the lining. Occasionally this will completely penetrate the reticulum lining causing disease and as the reticulum sits next to the diaphragm will head into the thorax towards the heart.

Vet School Histology Section of Bovine Reticulum with Honeycombe structure
Histology of Reticulum showing a cell from the honeycomb structure

The last structure unique to compound stomach is the omasum which is where the final stage of mechanical digestion takes place before the plant matter enters to Abomasum which is basically the same as a simple stomach. The lining of the omasum consists of really large muscular folds which help the mechanical breakdown of food into tiny particles suitable for digestion in the stomach and intestine. Below you can see the size of these folds in relation to the Rumen and Reticulum (its so big I’ve had to put multiple different pictures together to make it!)…

Histology section of the bovine omasum showing the folds in the mucus tissue
Histology section of the folds in the omasum of the cow

After this the food then enters the abomasum which is the same as the simple glandular stomach and enzymes and gastric juices start to digest the food here before it then enters the small intestine.

This afternoon in Physiology we finished up looking at the endocrine system which is responsible for controlling the body systems using chemical messengers (aka hormones). There are several different hormones and I do have plans to do a diary entry in depth on each hormone in the near future so will leave this here until then.

Animal Nutrition, and the start of Special Bacteriology (Day 159)

Gram Negative Bacteria - Pseudomonas aeruginosa gram stain under the microscope

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Scampers Pet Shop

The end of week 1 of semester 2, this week has literally flown by and I am honestly not sure where my time has vanished too! Its been interesting as now instead of just looking at structures we are getting introduced into the things that cause diseases and how to treat them! Fundraising is starting to go well however I did struggle to fit everything I needed to do into this week.

Today I started a new topic in Animal Nutrition which will be spread over two semesters, and the next stage of microbiology – special bacteriology – which looks at specific disease causing bacteria each week. Now Animal Nutrition is basically looking at how food is used by an animal for energy to fuel the body processes and to promote health (physiologically it is split across structural, energetic and reserve functions). Within cats for example excessive vitamin A intake during pregnancy can cause the kittens to be born missing the palatine bone (cleft palate) which means they cannot form a vacuum and so cannot feed from their mom.

The introduction basically looked at the different components of food which looks something like this.

  • FOOD
    • Water
    • Dry Matter
      • Organic
        • Carbohydrates
        • Lipids
        • Proteins
        • Nucleic acids
        • Vitamins
      • Inorganic
        • Minerals

Obviously you can see from this that most of the nutritional value of food comes from the dry matter, this is why it is such a problem when supermarkets etc add extra water to their food products to increase the weight and charge more. Enough of that for today though.

Starting special bacteriology today there are a few words that I am always going remember that went something like this…

This semester you will be looking at different pathogenic bacteria in the laboratory, we only have a level 2 lab on the university campus so some of the bacteria you will read about only as it is too dangerous for our lab. about 30 minutes later Nesseria meningitidis is especially nasty as one day you go to work, the next day you are dead.

To be honest I am kinda glad that I am not in a lab working with N. meningitidis, I don’t mind working with dangerous stuff when I need to, but playing with something so deadly just to see what it looks like is not logical to me. Anyways back to today’s bacteria and we looked at the pseudomonadaceae, burkholderiaceae, neisseriaceae and legionellaceae families of bacteria in the theory lecture. In the lab however we only looked at pseudomonadaceae which can be classed as either pathogenic or non-pathogenic depending on the ability to destroy body tissues.

Gram Negative Bacteria - Pseudomonas aeruginosa gram stain under the microscope
Gram stain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa under the microscope with red staining rods

There are loads of different species of Pseudomonas not all of which cause disease and several that are opportunistic and only cause disease when they are given a chance by other things (aka cuts/weak immune system/stress etc).