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By MaryBeth Matzek
MAA Editor

For students pursuing a career in agriculture, there’s nothing like getting hands-on experience. But before heading out to a dairy farm and working on a live animal, students need practice. That’s where full-sized bovine models come in.
Designed and manufactured by Canadian-based Veterinary Simulator Industries, the full-size bovine models allow students to practice delivering a calf and checking a cow for California Mastitis. Worldwide, the company has produced just 42 bovine models. Four models are located in the Midwest – Iowa State University, Michigan State University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wis.
Headquartered in Canada, Veterinary Simulator Industries modeled the simulators after a true-type Canadian Holstein Friesen. The company created the simulators to allow veterinary and agriculture students to become proficient in their practical skills and diagnosing ability without causing unnecessary discomfort to live animals. The company works with veterinarians on the animal design. In addition to the Holstein, the company manufactures a Hereford Dystocia Simulator and several equine models.

The Holstein model at the four Midwest colleges includes a mother cow and her calf. Both are built with realistic characteristics, including structure and size. Made from reinforced epoxy/fiberglass with water resistant components, the simulator features an adjustable pneumatic uterine, a functional udder with milk tank, calf support system and a vinyl uterine bag that can hold the simulator calf or different-sized fetuses.
The calf is flexible and can be positioned inside the cow to mimic any calving position, including normal, breech, head turned or leg back, said Lori Nagel, a veterinarian and ag instructor at FVTC, which added the simulator last spring.
Seeing the cow simulator in action is just like watching a real calf birth – without the bodily fluids. Nagel said birthing a calf can take anywhere from five minutes to several hours. The simulator gives students a chance to practice routine births as well as what to do if something goes wrong. Instructors can set up different scenarios for the students to react to, she said.
FVTC added its simulator to help students understand and demonstrate the necessary skills before going out to the farms that the college uses as clinic sites. Nagel said the college is seeing more students in its ag programs who didn’t grow up on a farm so providing them with hands-on experience is essential.
“The simulator helps students better understand the many reproductive changes that occur in a cow throughout pregnancy and the delivery process,” she said. 
It’s amazing to see how innovation and technology are coming together to change agriculture for the better.
 


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