Dairy Education Center

Veterinary Student Education

With more than 4,500 adult cows housed on-site, the Dairy Education Center offers the unique opportunity for students to practice clinical medicine and gain experience in the day-to-day management activities of a large dairy. In clinical rotations, students are exposed to a high case load of the common transition diseases, such as metritis, milk fever, mastitis, displaced abomasum, and lameness, allowing them to develop or improve skills in physical exam, palpation, diagnosis, therapy, surgery and case management. In addition, the dairy is a complex laboratory for learning about reproductive management, nutrition and feeding programs, milk quality, housing and welfare.

Senior veterinary students who are interested in dairy practice may elect to spend one or more rotations at the Dairy Education Center. The rotations currently taught are described below.

Advanced Dairy Production Medicine (ADPM): 4 weeks

Students in this four-week rotation will learn and practice skills in dairy production medicine, including records analysis, preventive medicine and disease control, management and evaluation of nutrition, transition, reproduction, and milk quality programs, economic decision-making, food safety and residue avoidance, communication and leadership, and more. Activities include lectures, wet-labs, student projects, dairy herd visits and other field trips. This rotation builds on skills learned in the introductory rotation, Overview of Dairy Production Medicine (ODPM). Senior students from other veterinary colleges are encouraged to apply for either or both of these rotations. For more information about the ODPM and ADPM curriculum, weekly schedule, program dates, and application information, visit Dairy Production Medicine Programs.

Dairy On-Farm Clinical (DOFC): 2 weeks

Students participate in the daily screening and physical examination of recently fresh cows, identify and treat sick cows, perform surgeries and necropsies. In addition, students may participate in ongoing health monitoring programs, such as calf serum total protein or dry cow urine pH monitoring. In the afternoons, students and faculty engage in discussions on relevant dairy cow medicine topics. Students live at the facility during this rotation so they are available at all hours to participate in clinical care, follow up on cases, and respond to emergencies.  

Bovine Theriogenology & Lameness Overview (BTLO): 2 weeks

This rotation will focus on improving students’ clinical skills in the areas of bovine reproductive and foot health. Students will be taught topics related to diagnostics, treatment and management of reproductive and foot diseases of dairy cows, topics related to reproductive and lameness management of bovine herds, and on-farm data analysis related to reproductive and foot health performance. The theriogenology aspect of this rotation will focus on giving students extensive practice in palpation on a large commercial dairy. The lameness portion will focus on teaching proper functional and therapeutic trimming skills using cadaver specimens. This course will use a combination of hand-on clinical training and interactive case based, student led discussion. Students interested in more advanced training should follow up this rotation by taking the Bovine Theriogenology & Lameness Advanced rotation.

Bovine Theriogenology & Lameness Advanced (BTLA): 2 weeks

This rotation will focus on providing opportunities for students to receive advanced training and clinical skills in the areas of bovine reproductive and foot health. This rotation will build on the skills and knowledge introduced in Bovine Theriogenology and Lameness Overview.  Students will be exposed to additional palpation and ultrasonography of the reproductive tract, as well as advanced hoof trimming techniques on live cows. These experiences will be tailored to allow the student to gain both proficiency and efficiency in both diagnosis/treatment and preventative practices. This rotation is geared to students who see themselves working in an exclusively bovine practice. The rotation will use a combination of laboratories, on-farm activities, discussion and assignments.

Prospective Students

Senior veterinary students from other universities who are interested in participating in a rotation at the Dairy Education Center should email dairyvet@umn.edu for available program dates and application information.