As a volunteer EMT for our local rescue squad, my skills for looking and treating sick cattle come in handy. The first thing an EMT does when arriving to a patient is to see how they look and listen for normal/unusual sounds.

As a person checking cattle everyday, we also look and listen. We look at the cattle for visible signs of distress and listen for abnormal sounds. One of the most obvious signs of health is seen in the ears. Cattle normally have a slight upward tip in their ears when they are comfortable and healthy.

I often think about how the smile on a person can give you the same indication-when the corners of the mouth are up the person is usually feeling content, corners down usually means I want to be careful how I interact with them!

Signs of illness in cattle can be droopy ears, breathing sounds and loose stools. It is the job of hundreds of pen riders each day to look for these cattle, remove them from their pen and take care of them. The animals treated with antibiotics are recorded in a manner that prevents them from entering the food supply until USDA withdrawal times have been met.

Some days I have the best job in the world because I get to look and listen – the sunrise, the birds singing, the cattle stretching and my husband talking to me over the two-way radio.

Some days in Nebraska can be challenging since we experience temperature extremes. As humans, with the luxury of furnaces and air conditioners, we can assume animals should have the same treatment. Cattle can be quite content in snowy weather.

We utilize windbreaks and bedding to help when the wind and snow causes distress so that we can keep the cattle comfortable.

Look and listen for more ways to understand the world around you! There are many voices talking about food production. Why not seek those voices caring for the animals and raising the food?

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