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Farm/Large Animal Intern Zoé

Hi! I'm Zoé Tierno and I have the amazing opportunity to be an intern here at Flint Hill Farm for the summer. While I will be working on various aspects of the farm including the dairy production process, my primary focus is working with all the farm animals and understanding all the steps and everything that goes into caring for them.

I'm from Philadelphia and am currently a rising junior Biochemistry major at Temple University. I am also on the pre-vet track and specifically plan on working as a farm vet in the future which is what sparked my interest in Flint Hill Farm.


While it's only my second day working on the farm I have already learned so much. Yesterday was spent primarily learning how to milk the cows and the goats both with the milking machine as well as by hand. Additionally, I learned how to measure a goats Famacha score to see whether the goats had parasites that were causing anaemia. Luckily all the goats seemed to be doing great! Today was quite an adventure as I learned how to trim goat hooves. As Miss Kathy can attest, it was a bit of a learning experience. To quote an accurate statement "goat hooves one, Zoé zero." However, after a few tries and some unruly goats, I finally started to get a better understanding of what I was doing and managed to do two goats on my own!


The first week on the farm is coming to a close but was still very eventful. On Wednesday I met the veterinarian, Lindsey, and saw her draw blood from cows through the Coccygeal vein. Additionally, I worked on a few more of the goat's feet and am slowly getting better at trimming their nails. Yesterday, there was a bit of chaos milking the goats but I learned the valuable lesson of closing gates and on the positive site I'm getting much better at goat wrangling. A volunteer, Rebecca, and I also took our two young calves for a lovely walk in order to get them used to walking with people. While initially they weren't very excited for it and were quite stubborn in moving, by the end they were walking side by side easily. I'm excited for all the new adventures and lessons to come next week!


Week two on the farm has already begun! Along with the daily milking and cleaning of the cows and goats, I'm learning much more about everything else that comes with taking care of the herd. On Monday I put out a salt mixture for the goats. This mixture has tons of important minerals that the goats need to be happy and healthy. Wild goats would normally travel large distances to find these minerals but since these are farm goats we provide it for them! Deficiencies of these minerals can affect milk production, growth, hair/coat health and reproductive health so its important to ensure that they have access to this salt at all times. Additionally, we began to de-horn some of our calves. It was a bit of a difficult process but basically required removing the existing small horn, cutting down the horn forming tissue underneath and then cauterising the wound to ensure the horn does not grow back. De-horning these calves ensure the our safety and the safety of the other cows for the future when they will become dairy cows. Lastly, yesterday I began to work with horse which I have very little experience with but I'm excited to learn more about. I learned about grooming horse which includes the use of 5 different brushes.


Week two on the farm is coming to a close which was full of more experience and learning. Yesterday I did more work on trimming goat hooves and I have significantly improved since my first go around. When a goat's hooves grow too long they begin to wrap around the sole of the hoof which can lead to issues such as hoof rot. Wild goats would normally wear down this overgrowth on rocky terrain but since these are farm goats we cut them down for them. To trim a goat's hoof you have to cut down the wall of the hoof down to the sole. We also cut down the tip of the toe and some of the cartilage that grows on the heel. Additionally, I worked with a horse and a goat who were having skin issues. They both had dry patches of skin which can cause itchyness and hair loss so I applied an iodine solution to these patches which has soothed the itchyness and is slowly showing an improve in hair growth. The iodine solution however does stain which is why one of our goats now has a few patches of lovely orange hair.


Yesterday, I was given the opportunity to watch the ferrier work on some of the horses hooves. He trimmed the wall of the horses hoof down to the sole similar to how I did goat hooves except the tools were much different as the hoof is a lot stronger. As the ferrier explained, the horse we worked on, Charlie, was a bit different as he has laminitis or has foundered, meaning the coffin bone has moved making the sole of the horses hoof change causing a lot more dead wall that usual. After trimming the wall and some of the sole, the entire foot was sanded to remove any rough edges. Additionally, the ferrier looked at another one of our horses, Marbles, who has been wearing down his hooves faster than he can grow them which means he will be getting horse shoes in the near future. After checking on the goats Famacha score again yesterday, I saw that two of our goats had anaemia and therefore had barber pole worm. They were given 6 cc of iron to combat the anaemia and 30 cc of Prohibit, a dewormer, to get rid of the barber pole worm parasite.


A few weeks ago, Kathy and I worked together to shear one of our sheep. Normally, a sheep shearer comes in and shears all the sheep at once, however, it was going to be another week until the shearer could come in and we were expected to have 90 degree weather that week so we decided it would be best to get off as much wool as we could to ensure that our sheep would not faint due to the heat. These past few weeks I have been working with one of our draft horses, Benjamin, as he has an abscess, a wound filled with pus. In order to treat it we have been cleaning the wound with water as well as the iodine solution we used previously on our goat, Blind Baby, and covering the wound with a bandage spray to protect it from the sun and bugs. He also received a lovely braid courtesy of our new intern, Kylie to help keep his main out of his wound. Additionally, in order to help the abscess heal, Ben has been getting ten tablets of Sulfamethoxazole and Trimethoprim commonly known as SMZ which has been helping with any infections Ben might be getting from this wound. Originally, we were dissolving the tablets in water and giving the medication orally by syringe, however, we recently learned that Ben was able to eat them when they were mixed in with grain which has made things a lot easier. Last Friday we noticed that one of our cows, Hayden, was in heat as she had signs of being mounted so that same day the breeder came in and inseminated her in hopes of getting a new calf.


About weeks ago our lovely goat, Lily, finally gave birth to a small white kid. The kid at first seemed lethargic but as the week progressed he began drinking more milk and is now bouncy around as he should be. Since Lily only had one kid she has a lot of extra milk. The milk produced the few days after the birth is kept and frozen because it contains cholostrom which is much thicker and more yelllow than normal milk and it contains important nutrients for the baby to survive. We save the extra cholostrom incase on of our future kids needs it or a neighbors kid needs it. Additionally one of our older kids jumped out of the manger and injured his leg so we have been cleaning his wound and giving him a little bit of pain medication to help with the healing process.

This time pf the year is when there are a lot of barber pole worms present in the goats so we have been continuosly checking their Famacha score as well as giving them iron and prohibit dewormer to prevent anemia. Additionally, we recent;y tested for coccidia which is a parisite that lives in the animal's cell. Coccidia has a very prevalent smell and diarrhea is a symptom so when we discovered what of our sheep had diarrhea the entire herd was treated with Corid. We also made fecal samples from the goats and looked at them under a microscope to find coccidia; however, all we found we're barber pole worms.

On June 23rd, we found out that our cow, Dotty's, pregnancy test came back negative so we are now in the process of Ovsynch which basically induces heat. On the 23rd she was giving 2cc of Fertagyl. 7 days after that she is given Lutalyse, two days after that she will be given more Fertagyle, and around 12 hours after that dose she will be bred.

About a week ago we originally suspected that our horse, Duncan, had an abcess on his front left foot because he was struggling to walk on it; however, after further inspection we found out his coffin bone had rotated further. Duncan was orginally foundered or had laminitis however, due to the hay he was eating it caused the bone to rotate further. Having too many carbohydrates in a horses diet can cause a build of lactic acid in the horses's hindgut which can cause the release of endotoxins which inturn affect the circulation to the coffin bone area found in the foot. Since the coffin bone rotated further he was given new hay in hopes of changing his diet he always was given 10cc of FlunixiJect (flunixin meglumine) given intramuscularly.


Earlier this month I had the amazing opportunity to ride with our farm vet Dr. Lindsey Hetrick. For two days I got to ride with her all day and visit various other farms and locations and see what the day to day looks like for a farm vet. It was an incredible experience and I learned so much from her. It also further affirmed that I really do want to be a farm vet. We talked a lot about the journey to get there and all the steps to get to vet school which was a bit scary but also reassuring in knowing I'm on the right path.

Additionally, I've gotten to ride a lot more in the past few weeks. I tried to take our horse, Sue, out for a ride as much as could as I know I'm going to be missing horseback riding once I leave. Since I'm from Philadelphia I never really got the opportunity to learn how to ride but in working here I've gotten the chance to take lessons and I fell in love with it. I'm only a beginner but I absolutely love it and know I will miss it once I'm gone. With taking lessons I've also been able to help teach some of our campers at horse camp how to ride which has also been intersting to see how the learning translates to teaching..

We also have been working with out kids and lambs. We gave them all indentification tags on their ears so they could be sold. However, we did end up keeping one of our male kids who then had to be castrated. The castration process involves putting a small rubber band like object around the goats testicles. The rubberband will cut off the circulation and the testicles will eventually fall off.

Earlier this week our cow Rita gave birth to a calf early Monday morning. I was not able to be there for the birth but I got the opportunity to name our lovely calf and decided on Ellie. Throughout the week she has been being bottle fed cholostrom similar to our kid that was born a few weeks ago. On the first day she was already up and walking and she is absolutely adorable

7-23-21 Today is my last day here at Flint Hill Farm and I am really sad to leave. I am so grateful to Kathy for giving me this amazing opportunity and teaching me so much. Despite the earlier mornings, I will miss waking up everyday and getting to work with all these amazing animals that provide for us so much, even the goats and their chaos. I want to thank Rebecca, Jen, Bruce, Andy, Dennis, Lindsey, Sarah, Laura, Kylie, Sam, Julie, all my lovely campers, and most of all Kathy. I have loved working with everyone here and learned so much from all of you. Thank you so much for a truly life changing summer that really helped me realize I am on the right career path. I will miss everything and everyone more than you know. Thank you so so much.

Lots of love, Zoe

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