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Funds Benefit Large Animals

New state funding improves large-animal program.

Deep inside the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital is what looks like a rail yard — a room filled with curving-metal alleys and switching stations. But the commodity being herded is not boxcars of coal or corn but cattle and other large animals.

With a $1 million annual appropriation from the state beginning in fiscal 2014, the College of Veterinary Medicine has purchased a new “squeeze chute,” which sits at the terminus of the metal-alley maze. Costing $25,000, the chute hugs an animal tightly and tips it on its side so veterinarians can more easily access the animal’s underside.

It’s a core piece of equipment in a hospital that treats 1,500 food animals a year. “There are days this is all I do all day,” says John Middleton, professor of food animal medicine, nodding at the contraption.

Common uses for the chute include examinations for lameness, routine foot trimming and reproductive-tract surgery.

The new, quieter chute is just one of several improvements the College of Veterinary Medicine has made or is considering making to its large-animal program. Other items include upgrading the teaching space at Middlebush Farm and replacing aging field service vehicles — a pickup or SUV that serves as a mobile clinic on house calls to far-flung farms. Also considered is a building to house the vehicles, which could also include additional teaching space, office space and a biosecure area to decontaminate vehicles, boots and other equipment.

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