Archive for the ‘Norway’ Category

This years trip over Besseggen is done. It was my second time climbing the beautiful mountain, but I really want to make a tradition to walk it once a year. Besseggen, is a mountain ridge in Vågå kommune in Oppland county. Besseggen lies east in Jotunheimen. The route over Besseggen starts at Memurubu, that you can take a ferry too. Walking up Besseggen, which is quite the climb to the highest point Veslfjellet 1,743m, and ends at Gjendesheim. You can also walk the trip the other way, but personally I wouldn’t recommend walking down the ridge. The trip is estimated to take about 5–8 hours to walk without rest stops. We used about 6 hours. From Besseggen there is a great view over Gjende and Bessvatnet. The green color of Gjende is the result from glacier runoff containing clay. There are also several giant rocks on the top of the mountains as a result of the glaciers that once lay there.

On the way down from Veslfjell we came over reindeer that was lying on the snow. They seemed pretty tame to not run away with all the people walking 500m away.


I had bought some new shoes that id only worn the day before. This of course resulted in my getting blisters on my heals.  Hopefully the blisters will heal properly before I leave for Africa next weekend to work with vets&wildlife.


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Last year I visited this Abattoir for a day and this year I got a job with the Norwegian Food agency ”mattilsynet” as a meat inspector.  The article I wrote about the whole slaughter process can be found at this link https://annettevet.wordpress.com/2011/09/17/nortura-steinkjer-abertoir/.

The first week I followed the vets or other meat technicians around and learned their ways or inspecting etc. It was interesting to see that they all had different ways of opening hearts, and I soon found my own way. As a meat inspector my job was to inspect organs: heart, lungs and liver. When I was at this station, I had to open all hearts to look for endocarditis, I inspected for pericarditis, different forms of acute pneumonia and differences in the livers. In the beginning we also checked that the tonsils were taken out whole, because there is a lot of bacteria in the tonsils that would have been spread to the rest of the body if not taken out properly, but because the abattoir had summer employers that hadn’t learned this properly, we cut down almost all the tongues. Thing cost the abattoir a lot of money, and they informed us that they would take care of it, with washing of the organs etc instead.  Compared to the UK I didn’t see any liver fluke during my stay at the abattoir, but I did find something I though looked like “milk spot” livers. The other station I had was inspecting the carcass. I would look for tail bite, abscesses and signs of severe bullying. If this was  the case we would check the lungs for abscesses, to see if they metastasised. Or if several spread abscesses the carcasses with organs was sent out on a side belt for the veterinarians to inspect if the meat was fit for consumption. A few days I was on the sow line. This meant that you inspected the sow as a whole, the organs, intestines, reproductive organs and carcass. The people working in the mattilsynet would check that all the knife sterilisators were a minimum of 87’c. If this wasn’t the case, they would stop the whole line until they were warm enough.  They would also take samples for antibiotic traces and salmonella on certain days.

One of the days I was though how to assess stomach ulcers. One of the sows we checked scored 8-9 on the scale 0-11. The oesophageal opening was constricted with ulcers and red inflammation. The second sow had between 7-8 on the scale, with less constriction on the oesophageal opening with red erosion in the whole area. Seeing anything above a 6 on the scale was considered painful, both the sows we tested has been though to have been in pain. According to the other vets its very uncommon to find a sow without some kind of stomach ulcers because of all the concentrates they are feed with the huge energy demands.

Intestinal emphysema was another condition we came over. This is a condition seen in swine, marked by gas cysts in the intestinal mucous membrane, sometimes causing intestinal obstruction. The bladder was also filled with these gas filled cysts. The pathogenesis and etiology of the condition is unknown, so only local cassation was done.

All in all I learned a lot of Pathology, knife technique, detecting acute & chronic pneumonia along with endocarditis seeing it several times each day with 1100 pigs slaughtered each day. The rest of the day I would read for my exams and run in the beautiful countryside of Følling, Norway. Hope to see all the amazing people I worked with again soon. I must say this is one of the most welcoming work placements I’ve been at.  They all seemed genuinely interested in what they were doing, helping me learn and we also had some laughter working together. Maybe ill come back next summer.



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The summer is definately here =) Since I got back to Norway the sun has been shining with temperatures of 25-30’c every day. Ive been enjoying the sunshine with my cousin in the park. One day we even brought the cats to enjoy the park life. they seemed to be settling down nicely=)

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Today I was lucky enough to get to work with a vet at Norways larges abertoir for svine in Steinkjer.  Nortura Steinkjer abertoir slaughter about 220 000 pigs a year. In addition is the abertoir rented to slaughter about 55 000 pigs from Spis Grilstad. So all in all they slaughter almost 300 000 pigs pr year. There are about 200 people working at the factory.


When I came to the slaughter factory I was greeted by the vet Maren Meldal. She was going to show me here usual tasks and the factory for the day. We started off in the dressing rooms where everyone got new, clean clothes every day. I was given white trousers, a white t-shirt, white clog and a green coat. We walked from the changing rooms down a hallway and to a safety stop where the green coats were removed along with the clog. Then you stepped over a line from the unclean area to the clean area. In the clean area you were given a new pair of clog and hair covering. The clog were washed and our hands washed before we had hand sterilizer on. Then we got to step into the actual slaughter house. There were several vets working at the factory every day. They had routines so that they wouldn’t do the same thing all day. She started by showing me around the whole factory explaining each step in the process

The pigs are transported to the slaughter house, where the vet inspects as they walk off the lorry. This is in case some of them are injured during the transportation, in which case they would be taken to the side so that the pig wouldn’t have to walk all the way around the farm before reaching the euthanization station . The other things the vet would check for was umbilical hernias. Hernias up to a handball size 15cm and without wounds would be ok, but larger than this, the pig would have to be in a separate pen so that it wouldn’t get trampled. The vet told me that even small hernias would sometimes be trampled. The vet would sign a blackboard over each pen signalizing for the workers that the pen was cleared for further processing. Each of the pens had water nipples incase the animals happened to stay there over night. The animals seemed very relaxed and would show this by laying down even 10 minutes of walking of the truck.

The next part of the process was the anaesthetizing / euthanization. The optimal method would need to be without force, with immediate loss of consciousness. 100% safety. Long lasting and without any affect of the meat quality. No method today will fit all these demands.

Bolt Gun Electric CO2 Gas
Fixation stress Varied Varied No
Immediately Yes Yes No
Safety High Medium High
Lasting Long Short Long
Stress-free No No Yes
Risk of waking up Low High Low
Meat quality Ok Not optimal

C02 gas as an anaesthetizing and euthanizing method is only approved on pigs and large ruminants. Electric is approved for all animals, but with electric anaesthetizing on large ruminants there is a demand for it to give heart arrest. The bolt gun is also done on all, but is less suited for pigs because of powerful cramps which makes it hard to kill them with knife and it also effects the meats pH.  No matter the method the animal will die because of the lack of 02 because it’s drained of blood, which will give heart fibrillation. 85% of traditional anaesthetizing and euthanizing of pigs are done by group gas. The negatives with using CO2 gas is that the animals can experience pain, anxiety or unease. The pigs will loose the consciousness after 15s depending on the concentration of the gas. It could cause hyper ventilation because of the gas and some could shake and kick violently for 15-39 sec after it’s been lowered down into the gas. The positives about using gas are that you don’t have to fixate the animals and that they walk voluntarily into the chamber, before being lowered down into the gas. The main positive point is that many people think that gas causes strangulation because of lack of 02, but the actuality that I learned is that the gas CO2 causes a lowering of the pH in the brain cells which causes the animals to pass out.

I asked if it was safe for the people standing at the top of the well, but the CO2 gas is heavier than 02. That is why the pig is lowered down where the CO2 gas is more concentrated. The lower the concentration of gas in the well the longer they would have to spend down there for it to have an effect. This factory had a computer that made sure that the gas concentration had a minimum of 87% of CO2 down in the well. If the % went under this the production would stop until the levels had risen again.  With a % of 80-90% most pigs will actually die in the gas and like I said before will pass out after 15 seconds. The pigs are lowered down and the whole circulation takes 3-5 minutes. The CO2 diffuses through the blood of the brain through the blood-brain barrier and react with water molecules to HCO3& H+. This causes the pH to decrease below the normal 7.4 to 6.8 and the animal to pass out. For the animals that doesn’t die in the gas could wake up minutes later if they aren’t bleed. Bleeding is done within 60 seconds of stunning so there is insufficient time for recovery to take place before there is irreversible loss of brain function from lack of oxygen. In order to ensure a rapid bleed out, the major vessels must be severed properly. The chest stick method is the best method to ensure a good bleed out. The operator should ensure that the animal is dead by checking for the absence of the brain stem reflexes (blinking when cornea is touched and reflexive gasping breaths).

Once the animals are hung up by their feet and bleed out. They are transported to a washer that wash the pigs with big brushes kind of like a car wash. The back hairs are removed before the bodies are flamed so that any other hairs are burned off.

The next part of the line was to suction out fat along the ribs and abdomen. Then there would be something they called trikin tests. Trikiner is a parasite Trichinella spp that can be seen in meat. People could become infected by this nematode if the meat isn’t boiled or cooked correctly. They would cause muscle pain and high fever, with no effective medicine. The occurrence of these are very rare today, but still every pig are tested to be on the safe side.
The ear, tail and feet are then removed. The stab wound is cut out along with the head, kidneys. The carcasses is then stamped 5 places to ensure each portion that its cut into gets a stamp with the factory and Norwegian logo. Each carcass is weighed and marked that it’s ok for meet consumption. The carcasses then goes over to a large cooling room, where it takes them 24 hours to pass through before reaching to bone removal/ meat portioning stations before they are packed (some with frozen ice) and transported to the stores. In the cooling room they aim to get the carcasses down to 4°c as fast as possible and the sows to 7°c. Each of the stations up to the cooling is done by humans which uses a 2 knife system with a sterilization container, to make sure that there are no contaminations between the carcasses. They also along with changing knifes between each pig, wash their hands of blood. The sterilization contained had 87°c.

I was with the vet, so we were placed at the inspection station. We got all the pigs that had something wrong with them. It was incredible to see that all the anatomy we have had the past 2 years came to use. The vet just said, look for the normal, because then It would be easier to spot the un-normal. If the pig had a tail bite or tail wound we would cut along the spine for abscesses which were cut out along with that part of the spine. If there were more than 2 abscesses the carcass would be sent away as waste, not suitable for human consumption. Each carcass came with its heart, lungs and liver, so each heart was cut open to look for endocardits in the heart valves.

Endocarditis occurs when germs enter your bloodstream, travel to your heart, and lodge on abnormal heart valves or damaged heart tissue.
The lungs would be checked for chronic or acute respiratory disease. If acute the animal would be disposed but chronic would be ok because it would be encapsulated infection.

Acute broncho pneumonias pig lung

Subacute to chronic pneumonia

If there were any tail bites or wounds the carcass hip joint, between ribs and sternebrae would be checked for capsulated pus. The lymph nodes would be checked to see if they were enlarged and if there were any damage to the joints, either with pus or just normal swellings that part would be removed. If more than one lump of capsulated pus was detected the whole carcass would be disposed of, but if only one that “lump” would be cut out and the carcass would continue on with a note on it.

Later that day they had taken a test of 8 pigs and 2 sow kidney to test for traces of antibiotics. All meat in Norway has to be without traces of antibiotics by law. Sick pigs often get treated by antibiotics and are then kept 14 days after end of treatment before slaughtered, but some farmers will try and send them off before. The kidneys is the place in the body where antibiotics are gathered up and is therefore used to test for traces. It is very rare that they detect any traces. A positive test result would result in the carcass being disposed off. In the test both kidneys were collected to have a back up kidney in cases where the test comes out positive to verify. The top layer of one of the kidneys are burned and the top layer is removes. Then a sample of the cortex and medulla of the kindey are taken out 5x5x10 mm, and put in 3 separate Peteri dishes each with a different type of antibiotic. Once that is done with all 10 samples  the  samples are left in room temperature for 1 hours before incubated in 37°c for 18 hours. On other days they could take samples to test for salmonella as well.

I was amazed of how much I learned at the abertoir and I would definitely want to come back one day, maybe try it myself when I’m a vet.

~ Annette

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Last weeks of Summer

Before i came back to Glasgow I had 2 weeks where I fully enjoyed my summer

In Bergen I visited my family and went to the cabin for a couple of days. This is the place where all stress goes away=)

My gran driving the boat

My aunt harvesting potatoes

My aunt has a dog, nova scotia duck tolling retriever, which had 7 puppies over the summer. They decided to keep “Laura”

My aunt has also become the new director for Statsraad Lehmkuhl which is the worlds largest three-masted barque rigged sail training vessel. Really hope to sail with her one day=)

The Statsraad Lehmkuhl

I saw my God mother “aunt Ann” which was in shock to see me again. She was picking me up in the centre of town and didn’t recognise me because of all the weight I’ve lost.  She drove me to see here children Isabell and Daniel. Daniel hardly recognised me as well. It’s kind of fun when people you know well act like that. Proves that what you have done has actually changed you a lot, even if you don’t see it as well.

I flew from Bergen to Kristiansand to see my good friend Ida. She has lived in Kristiansand for a year now and it was really good to see how happy she is there, and meet all the nice friends she has made. I had some wonderful days and will definitely come back to Kristiansand soon. I’m even considering working there next summer if I get a job=)

Getting back to Oslo I left for Vågå with my mum to relax on here friend Sisko’s spa “Heggerøsten” for a couple of days. This is far up in the mountain side, far from people, Everyday is spent taking saunas, spa’s, reading and thinking. One of the days Sisko took us to collect stones in the river, the mountain was filled with beautiful colours. All in all I felt very relaxed before going back for my Second year as a vet student.

Sisko and my mum collecting rocks

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I love snow, it makes everything so clean and white, but England is not used to the snow like we Norwegians are. I mean going home on the 29th of December was kind of lucky because after that most flights were cancelled in the UK because of the snow. I mean think if Norway would cancel flights, trains etc because of snow, and the country would be closed half the year. My mum didn’t expect it snowing that much in the time we were gone, so she had parked outside. When we landed at Gardemoen, Oslo it has snowed about 1, 5 meters.  We had to find and dig out my mum’s car.

Since my mum had sold our house, we no longer live in Asker but temporarily at Bruno & Eldrid’s flat in Stokke, Tønsberg.  It was beautiful there, all white, but very cold -21’c. Bobby flew to Torp instead of Gardemoen and meet us at the house. We went cross country skiing and enjoyed the light powdery snow.

At New Years Eve me and Bobby went to Tine’s boyfriend Martin’s house. His house right next to Frongnerparken where the official fireworks were going off at 12. All the my old girlfriends were there, apart from Kristin that was in Florida, & some of Martins friends. We all brought some food and had a nice dinner of steak , salad and Béarnaise sauce. For dessert we had warm berries with vanilla ice cream. Mmmmm.. It turned into a lovely party with lots of catching up and lots of wine.

It was lovely being home, but since I spent so long in England I must say that being home for a week was a bit short.  The day before I went back to Glasgow Kristin came home from Florida, so I went to Asker and meet the girls again for a final night of catch up=).

The neighbor in Stokke had deer and lamas out in the garden which was quite a surprise. The 3rd of January I went back to snowy Glasgow & back to the hardcore reading, having a new Anatomy exam in 2 weeks.

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