Fertis the Fistulated Steer: Revealing the Rumen at Open House

Uploaded by KSUCVM on 11.05.2012

>> K-State visitors took an “inside” look at veterinary medicine this April at the annual
all-university Open House.
>> Fertis, the veterinary college’s fistulated steer, starred as the main attraction of the
“Roaming in the Rumen” demonstration, which is presented by the student chapter
of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners. Fertis features a fistula, or hole, that allows
access to his rumen, or the first digestive chamber of the bovine stomach.
>> MILES THEURER: We allow people to go look inside the rumen to see how, how all the food
and nutrients are being digested and how that animal is able to convert all the grass and
hay that he eats into the high quality product that we all consume each and every day.
>> Having the fistula allows Fertis to fulfill several important duties for the college.
>> DR. DAVID ANDERSON: Fertis plays a vital role in our ability to educate veterinary
students about the ability of cattle to digest forages and basically teach our veterinary
students about digestive health in cattle. The other function that he has is that he
is actually a therapeutic animal and so Fertis is normal, healthy, happy steer and we use
him to take normal rumen fluid that allows him to digest forages and transfaunate that
fluid into a sick animal to help them recover from disease and so cattle that are sick for
any reason, get digestive disturbances much like people get stomach upsets and we take
the rumen fluid from Fertis and we put it into the sick animal and that helps speed
up their recovery. We like to think of Fertis saving as many cattle as we do in the state
of Kansas.
>> Originally selected for the special surgery because of his temperament and overall health,
Fertis’ approachability allows Open House visitors to directly observe the digestive
>> GIRL: Is that corn?
>> VETERINARY STUDENT: Maybe. Yep, that's corn. And most of it's hay. But yeah, that
yellow is corn. Then he just moves it around and breaks it all up and yeah.
>> MILES THEURER: Inside the rumen, they’re seeing the digestive nutrients, seeing the
microbes, how they’re metabolizing the hay particles and just also watching it move around.
So its kind of a cool opportunity to see how they can use the food nutrients that humans
are not able to and able to produce high quality end products.
>> While visitors were offered other ways to learn about the rumen, including microscopes
that showed off the microbes found in the bovine stomach, Fertis is always the star
of the show.
>> DR. DAVID ANDERSON: I think one of the nice things about having a fistulated cow
on display like this that it’s a big draw for the public and our mission through Open
House at the College of Veterinary Medicine is to get people exposed to what we do. This
is a tremendously vital industry. There are lots of opportunities for students in this
industry. We want people to come to the college and see the veterinary profession as something
they might like to do and we’re trying to reach out and impact young kids and their
decisions about what they might want to do with their life and Fertis plays an important
role in that.
>> While he has been with the college for over ten years, Fertis should continue to
educate students and the public for many years to come.
>> DR. DAVID ANDERSON: We’ve had animal with these fistulas in until they are twenty
years old and so the life expectancy of these animals are actually longer than most cattle
because we’re not milking him. His purpose isn’t for meat. His purpose is to teach
and we should have Fertis for a good, long time.