It’s that time of year again when this beast rears it’s ugly head: compulsory practical comparing the digestive systems of a ruminant animal and a monogastric animal.
I know it’s been put into the curriculum, but in typical Biro Pilot fashion the writers of the curriculum didn’t consult with the industry stakeholders on whether this was actually reasonably possible. Spoiler alert: it’s not.
Not only have we discussed the issues with transporting a bucket of farts in a truck before, we now have the added complications of:
- long term drought right around the country
- the 2019-2020 bushfires that wiped out 1/3 of the national sheep population
- the utter devastation of farmland and infrastructure in the fire affected areas
So, what about monogastric gastros?
As yet we aren’t experiencing any trouble with sourcing the gastros from pigs for our GIT specimen, but we are closely watching the pork industry. In the last 12 – 18 months the industry has rapidly been reducing the number of pigs in production.
This is a backlash from about 5 years ago when pork prices were really high so every farmer and his son went into pig production. The oversupply then forced prices down and everyone changed their minds about growing pigs. Now there is a national shortage and even butchers were having trouble getting enough to keep up with Christmas orders last year.
Added to that the potential threat from African Swine Fever and we’ve got a perfect storm for the Australian pork industry.
What’s Miss Vivi going to do about it?
Well, Mr Vivi is going to keep it sweet with the suppliers that we have on the team and we’re going to support the pork and lamb industry the best way we know how – by buying their stuff as often as we can. As they say, “don’t clap, throw money!”. You can support that too by working with us so the money flows into those towns that really, really need it right now. Don’t ever forget that every family needs a farmer.
Miss Vivi is going to keep supporting you by finding resources you can actually use in the classroom to keep your teachers sweet. So far I’ve found this little gem of a presentation by Bryan Simmons on Prezi. It’s pretty good for a virtual resource. Just click through to the website and use the arrows under the image to click through the slides.
Nothing beats the smell of the real thing, though, does it?
I am getting questions about prepping brains for the classroom so here are my Top Tips.
There is not much point putting brains into the classroom unless they have been prepped. You just end up with a pink puddle of mush.
My preference is at least 24 hours in 50% alcohol from frozen. They will float so you need to turn them over periodically or fill a container to the brim and put the lid on them to keep them submerged.
Saturated salt solution works well, too, but I am too lazy to be bothered making it when I can just dilute a bit of metho.
Patricia Hugman developed this 1 hour method that she swears by and gave it to me to put on the website. Don’t be stingy with the salt. Really load them up.
I heard that you can microwave brains to firm them up. This one in the picture has been subjected to 1min 30sec in water in 10 sec blasts. It was ONE brain in a container. If you are going to do more then you will have a bigger container, more water and more brain so you will have to fiddle with the timing a bit.
I do know people that freeze them on a tray and deliver them to the classroom that way so they defrost during the dissection. I haven’t tried it but I can see how it would work.
Good luck! Terrible things, brains.