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Vet Gazette

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

Student’s Summer Research Leads to Bovine Dental Discoveries

September 8th, 2014
Isaac Barber-Axthelm helps Niki Fadden examine the back molars of a dairy cow.

Isaac Barber-Axthelm helps Niki Fadden examine the back molars of a dairy cow.

Student Niki Fadden spent the summer of 2013 working on a research project that investigated the dental health of local dairy cows. She chose the project because there wasn’t much research on the subject and she was curious. “I wanted to see what their teeth looked like, if they had dental problems, and what kind,” she says.

For the study, Fadden arranged to work with three local dairies; two were conventional dairies, where all the cows are indoors and fed a mixed ration, and one was an organic dairy where the cows are pasture-fed. When a cow died or was euthanized, Fadden travelled out to the dairy to collect its head;  just the head. This created quite a stir amongst the dairy employees. “I severed the heads myself,” she says. “Lots of times they came out to watch me.” Apparently, they had never seen a young woman with a knife disarticulate a cow head and stuff it in a trash bag. “I said, ‘You think this grosses me out? This is nothing.’”

Back at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Fadden froze the heads, ran them through computed tomography (CT) and took radiographs. Then, working with Drs. Mecham and Bildfeld, she performed gross exams in necropsy.

“We wanted to compare the three different diagnostic types for looking at dental pathology,” she says. “Our thought was that maybe imaging would show a lot more of the pathology than you can see in a gross exam. I wanted if an oral exam in a cow would provide you a picture of what is actually going on. It turns out it does.”

In the course of this investigation, Fadden discovered that there were a lot of transverse ridges on the cow’s teeth. “You would think that their teeth would be relatively flat with all the grinding they do, but they can develop sharp points like horses do,” she says. “In a horse, those are normally floated down. But they don’t float cow teeth – it is not common.” This led Fadden to another question: Is it possible to develop a system for floating cow teeth?

“Through the CT images, I went in and looked at every single tooth and measured the dentin thickness over the pulp. The average was about 4-5 mm. It is not enough for floating; you would end up frying their tooth and damaging the pulp.”

She made another discovery: “Something interesting we found was that cows can develop hooks on their very back molars. Some of the girls we looked at, their hooks were so bad, they were puncturing the gingiva.” This could be a concern to farmers if the hooks cause ulcers and effect the cows ability to eat. “If they can’t eat, then they can’t produce milk,” says Fadden.

Fadden also found that the hooks were composed of pure dentin and enamel, and therefore could be corrected with floating.

The discovery of the dental hooks last summer resulted in another research opportunity for Fadden this summer. “Since hooks are the only dental pathology we found that you can correct, I wanted to know how often hooks occur,” she says. So she went back to the same three dairies and examined the teeth of one hundred cows on each farm. “I wanted to get a good representative age sample of the population so I grouped them by lactation number, which basically represents the numbers of babies they have had and is also an indicator of age.” She also randomized the samples to make them as statistically valid as possible.

Her research yielded some interesting results: nearly one third of the cows had hooks. “Some of them were pretty large,” she says. “In general, of course, the older cows had more, but even the three and four year-olds had hooks.”

OSU Study Needs Dairy Producer Input

September 8th, 2014

CowPortraitA new multidisciplinary study undertaken by investigators in the College of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Food Sciences, and College of Public Health, are seeking help to disseminate a survey to dairy producers.  If you know of anyone who produces and consumes and/or sells raw dairy products from goats and/or cows, please forward this link to them: http://tinyurl.com/pyhmkqr.

The survey has been approved by the OSU review board and is completely anonymous.  All data collected is for academic purposes only. The intent and goal of the study is to better understand production practices of local and sustainable food sources.  Producers who participate will receive an Amazon Gift Card.


Welcome to Ross Students!

September 8th, 2014

HogenRydellThe college extends a warm welcome to two new students from Ross University who are joining us for their fourth-year clinical rotations.

Elizabeth Hogen is from Northridge, California and received her undergraduate degree from UC Santa Barbara. She is interested in pursuing a career in small animal surgery. Elizabeth is half Columbian and half Norwegian. She enjoys baking, traveling, volleyball, snowboarding, and reading.

Drew Rydell is from Kapaa, Hawaii and received his undergraduate degree from California Polytechnic University. Upon receiving his DVM, he plans to work on the west coast for a few years then hopes to open a clinic in Kauai, Hawaii. Drew drove all the way across the U.S. from Vermont to be here at CVM. He enjoys surfing, camping, snowboarding and hiking in the mountains with his girlfriend and dog.

New Underwater Treadmill Getting Plenty of Use

September 8th, 2014

UWtreadmillThe small animal rehabilitation unit at the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital has a new underwater treadmill. With an average of 13 animals per day using the old treadmill from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, the rehab unit was completely booked up. The new treadmill will allow for more appointment times.

The new treadmill is the same brand but has some useful, new features:

  • Less than half the weight which makes it easier to clean
  • Shorter height which makes it easier to reach the animals
  • Longer length works better for dogs with long strides
  • Bigger viewing window
  • Digital touch screen controls instead of push buttons

The treadmill purchase was made with a donation from regular user, Camass, and his family who wish to remain anonymous.



Benny the Beaver Visits the Veterinary Teaching Hospital

August 27th, 2014
Dr. Jana Gordon listens to Benny's heart.

Dr. Jana Gordon listens to Benny’s heart.


Oregon State University mascot, Benny the Beaver, visited the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital to get a checkup in preparation for the upcoming football season.

You can tag along with him in this video!

Student Represents OSU at International Congress

August 27th, 2014

Megan-LeeCVM senior student Megan Lee recently presented her research at the 2014 International Union of Microbiological Societies Congresses (IUMS) held in Montreal, Quebec Canada.  She was the winner of the OSU CVM Summer Research Day 2013, which provided the travel funds to IUMS.

The research she presented to the international audience of microbiologists was entitled “Investigation of bovine herpesvirus type -1 immune response in a cattle herd”, a project conducted in Ling Jin’s laboratory during the summer of 2013. Lee’s research addresses differences in immune response to vaccines and clinical isolates in different age groups of cows. She identified the antibody titers decreased significantly at 6 month post-vaccination which raised questions on current vaccine policies and schedules in cattle.

The International Congress for Microbiology is divided into three separate sections covering the fields of bacteriology, virology, and mycologym, while maintaining the threads of pathogenesis and immunology that blend these fields together. Topics covered by the meeting are science, microbiology, infection, mycology, bacteriology, virology, health, bioscience, and infectious diseases in both humans and animals.

This was an excellent opportunity for a veterinary student to participate in world-renowned research and communicate her findings to the scientific community while representing OSU CVM.