Bovine reproductive palpation training: Does the cow make a difference?

Hilari M. French, John J. Dascanio, Gregory E. Gilbert, James Q. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Gaining experience and dexterity for trans-rectal cattle palpation requires substantial training. Simulation allows students to perform palpation without risks and to obtain feedback, but many believe live cattle palpation is essential. Limited research exists on the proper training method for live animal trans-rectal palpation. This study compared student improvement in laboratory palpation skills when assigned to the same cows versus choosing a cow at random. The hypothesis for the study was that students assigned the same cow, as compared to students choosing a cow at random, would be more accurate at palpation, would learn what structures are present on the ovaries and what size the reproductive tract measures, and would be able to follow the cyclicity of the cow. Cervical diameter, uterine tone, diameter of left and right uterine horns, and ovarian structures were recorded over time. Responses were compared to laboratory instructors’ responses and Z-tests for proportions were used to test the differences in percentage correct at each time point for each palpation exercise. Overall the experiment showed that assigning students to certain cows will not improve their trans-rectal palpation training. However, asking students to identify specific landmarks with quantitative measurements did allow for more productive laboratory time and engaged students. The results of the present study also suggest that if there is limited time available for palpation instruction, choosing cows with behavior allowing easy handling is important to the educational process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-223
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Veterinary Medical Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Cattle
  • Palpation training
  • Reproduction
  • Trans-rectal palpation
  • Veterinary


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