FVTC's bovine birthing simulator unveiled

Colleen Kottke Associate Editor
Now Media Group


There's a new girl on campus and she's causing quite a stir up and down the Fox Valley.

Maple Leaf Foxy — a full-sized bovine model — made her debut during the National Ag Day Celebration held April 1 at Fox Valley Technical College.

FVTC President Dr. Susan May officially introduced Foxy to a standing room only crowd of over 800 FFA members. The bovine birthing simulator is only the 42nd model produced by the Canadian company.

"In support of our ag programs, we are thrilled to add this teaching and learning tool to the college," May said. "This is the second of only two models here in Wisconsin, with the other being used at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine in Madison."

Maple Leaf Foxy — her moniker a nod to her developer and new home — cost around $35,000, said Randy Tenpas, chairman of the Ag Department at FVTC.

"We're really excited to have (Foxy) because it will add to the educational tools that we have and to build those needed skill sets for the ag business and industry."

Tenpas said a motivating factor in bringing the bovine to FVTC was the changing demographic of students enrolling in the ag program studies.

"We were seeing that more and more of our students didn't have that traditional ag and dairy background, and before we get them out on our farms that serve as clinical sites, we felt it was important for them to demonstrate and understand those skill sets before they actually go out and work with live animals," Tenpas said.

Veterinarian and Ag Instructor Lori Nagel was instrumental in bringing the bovine birthing simulator to the college where students have the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and hands-on experience in both lecture and lab settings on the many reproductive changes that occur in the cow throughout her pregnancy and delivery.

Modeled as a Holstein pair, both Foxy and her calf are built with realistic characteristics, including size and structure. Foxy is constructed of reinforced epoxy/fiberglass with water resistant components. She also features in adjustable pneumatic uterine, calf support system and a functional udder with a milk tank.

To give students hands on access, the cow has a removable top section between the shoulders and hooks, which opens to a hollow cavity with a clear, vinyl uterine bag in which the simulator calf (or different sized fetuses) can be placed.

Nagel said the calf is extremely flexible, and can be positioned inside the cow to mimic almost any position a calf can present at calving — normal, breech, head turned or leg back.

"Students will also use this model to understand the ovarian and uterine changes that occur throughout pregnancy as well as developing skills to assist with calvings," Nagel said.

Foxy also has an udder that can be filled with normal or abnormal milk for mock California Mastitis testing and even to teach proper protocols on milk sampling for culture, she said.

Farmer and Wisconsin Technical College System Board Member, Becky Levzow said Foxy represents a golden opportunity for students.

"Having students being able to practice on something of this caliber and then going out to the farm and putting that knowledge into practice makes a huge difference," Levzow said. "To have the school make this kind of investment is phenomenal. It shows the value they've placed on agriculture."