Anatomically correct ‘cow’ helps teaching

Agri Training training adviser Warner Cottrell shows the right technique helping Matilda during...
Agri Training training adviser Warner Cottrell shows the right technique helping Matilda during calving. PHOTO TONI WILLIAMS
Agri Training is offering its state-of-the-art training "cow", Matilda, to those in the dairy industry seeking to train staff before the calving season.

Made of skin-like rubber, a pliable plastic uterus and plywood framing, Matilda has been modelled in the form of an anatomically correct cow.

She also has rubber teats which can be changed for teat maintenance.

Agri Training training adviser Warner Cottrell said she could be used to replicate the real experience of birthing a calf as well for offering practical hands-on teat care.

She has a life-sized calf, which can be positioned inside the cow to simulate real calving situations, complete with amniotic fluids to convincingly simulate calving.

Mr Cottrell, a Lincoln University farm management graduate, knows a thing or two about the dairy industry.

Despite growing up on a sheep and beef farm at Banks Peninsula, he spent 12 years sharemilking on farms in Mid Canterbury, Dunsandel, Culverden and Taranaki before taking on the role of Nelson district manager at LIC.

A career change saw him do a three-year building apprenticeship and then eventually a training adviser role with the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation.

The role at Agri Training has brought him back to farming, and training young people.

He has been with the organisation since March and is keen to share the benefits of the programme with interested students.

Matilda was the only one of her kind in the South Island; a similar model was used by veterinarians during their training. She had been with the training organisation for the past couple of weeks.

"Matilda is a life-sized cow [and] has got the workability for people to come and learn to calve a cow without the practicalities and pressure of a live birth."

The training experience can help dairy farm workers learn farm policy on calving and when to call a vet.

"It’s an incredibly real experience, when you put your hand inside and you feel the presentation of a calf, the actual process of birthing is just incredibly real. You can set her in all sort of positions and it really does give you realistic expectation of what it is like to calve a cow and how to overcome problems."

The agricultural training organisation is based at the former Winchmore Research Station.

The agricultural students, who include new entrants or people who have been on farm for a long time, are part of an apprenticeship programme and work and learn on farm.

"They all require some sort of qualification to recognise their skills on farm."

Matilda was available free to anyone wanting to give their staff some hands-on training to practise all birthing scenarios before the calving season and he encouraged people to make contact.

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