Matilda models real-life birth

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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 people in the dairy industry looking to train staff ahead of the calving season.

Made of skin-like rubber with a pliable plastic uterus in a 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 offer practical hands-on teat care.

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

“Matilda is a life-sized cow who has got the workability for people to come and learn to calve a cow without the practicalities and pressure of a live birth,” he said. She has a life-sized calf, which can be positioned inside the cow to simulate real calving situations, complete with amniotic fluid.

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 on 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. It has a large classroom for student training and office space.

Agricultural students, including new entrants or long-time farm workers, are part of a apprenticeship programme and work and learn on farm.

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

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

-By Toni Williams