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Cow simulator to teach vet students

Veterinary student, Helen Wilson using the Breed'n Betsy

Veterinary student, Helen Wilson using the Breed'n Betsy Tracy Dewey, University of Bristol

Press release issued: 21 March 2011

The University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences has a new way to teach veterinary students. Breed'n Betsy is a simple and effective training aid that allows the practical teaching of the internal anatomy of a cow.

Bristol University’s School of Veterinary Sciences has purchased two of the simulators following donations from the Ernest Cook Trust, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Charitable Trust and the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW). 

The simulators are metal frame structures that have a latex “back-end” of a cow through which students may insert a gloved, lubricated hand and feel latex model uteri, ovaries and cervixes.

Breed’n Betsy enables many students to continually practise different techniques.  Students can learn, with the aid of the model uteri, pregnancy diagnosis from six weeks to five months, artificial insemination (AI) and embryo transfer.

The simulators are so simple to use, that students can teach themselves with the aid of guidance posters and have the freedom to practice whenever they want. 

Mike Steele, Teaching Fellow in the School of Veterinary Sciences, said: “Many of our students come in to try out the simulators and as a result, the first rectalling class with a new group of students is much more successful.  No student is in a cow for more than five minutes now and up to 90 per cent leave the first session having felt a uterus, most differentiating whether pregnant or not.”

 As a direct result of these simulators, academics have found that students are more competent at an earlier stage and that the cows are affected to a minimal degree.

Mike Steele added: “We measured milk yield drop over a year of teaching classes with a 250 cow group.  In this time, only four cows were seen to drop yield by two litres in the first milking session after the class and no adverse fertility effects were observed. “

The University’s Breed’n Betsy’s have also been set up with ultrasound scanner probes, so that students may try holding a linear probe and putting it next to an ovary.  This is a difficult skill and the simulators provide invaluable practice in this area.

The Betsy’s come with model cervixes that only allow an AI straw (or intra-uterine antibiotic straw) through if manipulated in the correct manner.  This has given academics the added benefit of being able to teach good AI technique and correct administering of intra-uterine antibiotic.

A more recent development on this simulator is the addition of a water-filled acrylic tube, which recreates an “in-cow” temperature environment to practice.  This model can also allow the attachment of real specimens obtained from abattoir material to complete the realistic experience. 

 

Further information

Brad Pickford is an 18 year veteran of the bovine breeding industry (Nationwide Artificial Breeders), who saw a need to invent Breed’n Betsy, the artificial training simulator, after spending time in the UK, just prior to the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001.

He has received invaluable assistance from many veterinary university professionals around the world, and together with his own teaching experience, now offers a complete training package for all areas of bovine, and more recently, equine reproduction techniques.

Please contact joanne.fryer@bristol.ac.uk for further information.