Murdoch University

Vet 329 Introduction to Clinical Examination

Intensive Industries – Pig, Poultry and Aquaculture

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A successful veterinarian is one whose clients have no sick or compromised animals – an extremely difficult achievement.  The clinician needs to remember that the clinical disease is only the terminal cause of death.  It is imperative that the veterinarian concentrates on maintaining the animal’s health rather than treating its diseases.


Making an accurate diagnosis is the key to successful veterinary practice.

A diagnosis is to identify:

1.       If there is a problem – Vet 246 (Animal and Society) and Vet 329 (Intro to Clinical Exam)

2.       The cause of the problem – Vet 437 (Medicine course notes)

3.       Practical solutions to the problem – Vet 437 (Medicine course notes)

4.       Means of preventing the problem occurring again – Vet 530 (Clinical rotations)

Within intensive industries, the pig will be used as a model food supply animal.


Is there a problem?

This is the core of Vet 329: - making a diagnosis.


In Food Supply Medicine there are 7 key areas essential in assisting the clinician to make a diagnosis:

a.       Taking a history

b.      The examination of the individual pig

c.       Post-mortem examination of the individual pig

d.      Examination of the group of pigs

e.      Examination of the environment of the pig

f.        Examination of the farm’s performance

g.       Suggesting practical solution to the problem


1.       Taking a history of the problem

Clinicians have two ears and one mouth and should therefore listen twice as much as they talk. 


Listening to the client and asking the correct questions is an essential component of making a diagnosis.


The clinical history will be practiced within the practical labs in Vet 329.

Consider the following line of enquiry:


What has the client seen?

is the pig eating, defectating, urinating, coughing, sneezing, lame or dying

Severity of the problem?

how many are sick or dead

Location of the problem?

which pens or age groups are affected

When did the problem start?

time, date, place

How is the problem progressing?

are more pig getting sick  within the group

More than one problem?

how many different problems in same group

Epidemiological consideration?

has the problem spread to other groups

Are there any other factors?

which the client thinks is relevant to the situation

What has the client done?

to alleviate the problem, what was the result of the action



2.       The examination of the individual pig

In general practice a detailed individual examination of a pig is rarely performed, but it is essential that you know the basics.


Basic pig breeds

Stu handling temperature

Basic pig terms

Handling and movement of pigs

Orientation around a pig

Surface anatomy of a pig

Weight and age of the pig – expected growth curve

Taking a blood sample from a pig – weaner and adult


Clinical examination of a cooperative and an uncooperative pig

Recognition and description of visible lesions


Auditing the welfare of the pig

Review – Vet 246 Animals in Society Course  Know: Required reading for Vet 343  Info: - useful information to add completeness to the course



3.       Post-mortem technique


This is taught in Vet 343 and Vet 530.

In Food Supply Medicine the postmortem examination is a cornerstone to health maintenance.   The postmortem routine needs to be methodical, as generally the veterinarian is interested in the likely cause of death of the individual.  The food supply veterinarian is also interested in reviewing the clinical presence or absence of other specific pathogens.


Students PM farm



Diagnosis of major pathogens at the post-mortem


4.       Examination of the group of pigs

Examination of the undisturbed group


Understanding the different patterns exhibited by lying pattern


Examination of the disturbed group


Understanding the patterns exhibited by the defecation pattern

Condition scoring pigs and the difference in chronic, acute and subacute disease timelines


Understanding normal behaviour patterns- see Animal in Society notes


Recognition of vice and stressed animals


                Examination of the farm


Examining the group of pigs


Conducting a farm visit


Stud murdoch farrow


Stud pregnancy check murd


5.       Examination of the pig’s environment

You will be expected to know how to measure and record:


Type of drinker; height; flow and associated animal expectations

Students vent training


Feeder space; feeder type; quantity of feed and basic make up of the feed


Space and stocking density, impact of worn equipment


Ventilation patterns, temperature, humidity and gas concentration expectations


Clinical examination of the pen

Kit to examination the pig’s pen

Use of equipment to monitor the animal’s environment


6.       Examination of the farm performance

In any production system a systematic approach is required to analyse any farm records.  This will be covered in more depth in Vet 530.  At this stage an understanding of the basic production expectation for a farm will be reviewed.


Production targets for a 100 sow unit


7.       The basis of providing a practical solution to the identified problem

Once a problem has been correctly identified, the clinician has to prescribe a treatment plan.  Within Vet 329 an introduction to the various treatment routes will be presented.

The student will be expected to understand:

Injection techniques in the pig: the site for intravenous, intramuscular and subcutaneous injections.

Euthanasia in the pig

Knowledge of feed and water as a medication route and some problems associated with these routes

Being able to calculate the dose rate for a variety of animal groups.




Blood taking sow


Injection techniques in pigs

Euthanasia in the pig

Calculating medication doses


Preparation for the practical class


Properly dressed with clean protective clothing – overalls and gumboots





Notebook and pen

PDA (if owned)

Name-tag (please wear to all classes)



Biosecurity dress code


Examination in Vet329


Example of typical farm issues – using Murdoch Pig Unit as an example