Poo-Phile [posted 1-29-08]

17 Jan

I started a new 2nd job yesterday.  I thought it would be a good way to alleviate some debt,appease the veterinary admissions board, and pacify my lingering depression from the cabin-Mansion.  Right now I’m working with pigs. Soon mice (or was it rats?) will be added to that. My job is very similar to the dairy job I had. I take ear, shoulder, rump, tail, and rectal temps. I also get respiration rates on the control and heat stressed pigs. As part of my responsibilities, I relieve some of the grad students’ burden by helping with data entry, which is super-boring. The only cool thing about typing, or should I say pecking, is I can listen to my I-Pod at the same time!

As an aspiring veterinary student striving to bulk up my application, I’ve worked with small animals forever now.  As well as building my resume’ and getting me experience, it conciliates a need within me to be in the proximity of creatures.  It’s no big deal to see the body fluids of dogs and cats. I also have horse experience.  Horses are probably the cleanest of all animals. The worst thing about them is their urine—it smells awful!

My question to you is, which is worse—hogs or cows?  Many would think pigs are more dirty and smelly than dairy cattle.  Not the case.  There is no palliating the smell of a cow.  My car reeked just from me sitting in it after work.  Laundry detergent won’t touch it.  Pigs get a bad rap.  They’re actually very clean animals.  I milked and helped with heat stress research on 40 cows when I was a college freshmen, and there are many reasons why cows are dirtier.

The sheer volume of cow crap is waaay more than pigs can produce.  They are constantly going!  Cow poo is liquid-y.  When it hits the floor, or your boot, or your arm (you get the picture) it splatters.  Cows think it’s funny to lie in their poo as well.  It dries on their sides and back, or worse, it doesn’t dry and they lovingly rub against you.  Shit everywhere!

Cows are also secretly aggressive.  They allay you into thinking they are calm and slow-moving.  They have long tails and know how to use them.  No matter how much relief a cow feels by being milked, she will fuss about the process.  Many a cow shit on their tail then, swung the dirty tail around.  Once a cow hit me in the FACE with her shitty tail–it really sweetened the deal *sarcasm*.  This was the same cow that urinated down the back of my jeans as I squatted to milk her—on Thanksgiving.  Happy Holidays to me!

The obvious benefit of pigs is you don’t have to milk them every day at 4 am and 4 pm. Cow hours were not cool.  Nothing could alleviate my tiredness after working that schedule.  No amount of sleeping during the day can ease the fatigue of being up, and work at 4 AM.  Another advantage to pigs is the biosecurity. We are required for the health of the pigs to wear coveralls and boots. This means my clothes don’t get as dirty and a little bit of the smell doesn’t permeate through it. Ok, I still smell like pig a lot, but it’s not AS bad. . .  So far.  Cow stayed on me for days—even after laundry and shower. I guess it got in my pores. The dog just loved it, and her desire to continuously sniff me and my dirty clothing could not be mollified.

Pigs have solid stools.  They also produce much less.  It does not splash and if the 24 pigs lie in it they really have to squish around in it in order for it to stick to them—rarely happens.  So far, pigs haven’t tried to cover me in feces and urine.  They can be secretly aggressive when it comes time for rectal temperatures.  They will lie with their butt on the ground, refusing to move.  They also walk forward to escape the probe, or backward squishing the probe and your hand against the back door.  Who can blame them though?

The verdict?  I liked the personalities of the cows better.  They were sweet, sometimes saucy girls.  I had fun working with them.  Of course, I don’t know the pigs very well so far, but they seem less animated.  Maybe they’re just shy working with a new person.  I’ll give it more time.  At any rate, my new part time job is going pretty well.  I’m probably going to have more stories about it later.


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