Influence of an Exercise Program, Muscle Strength, Proprioception, and Arm Length on Veterinary Students' Bovine Pregnancy Diagnosis Accuracy

Annett Annandale, Geoffrey T Fosgate, Carina A Eksteen, Wim D J Kremer, Harold G J Bok, Dietmar E Holm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Bovine pregnancy diagnosis (PD) by transrectal palpation (TRP) is an important skill for veterinary graduates. Factors influencing students' PD accuracy were investigated to optimize bovine PD by TRP training without increasing live animal exposure. The objective was to determine whether arm length and strength, proprioception, and exposure to a 6-week exercise training program were significantly associated with students' PD accuracy. Veterinary students (n = 128) who had previously received formal theoretical and practical training in bovine TRP and PD (live cows and TRP simulators) were assessed for PD accuracy on live cows. Prior to assessment, arm muscle strength measurement, an exercise program, and additional TRP sessions on Breed'n Betsy¯ simulators and live cows were offered to the students. Seventy-eight students volunteered to participate in the arm length measurement, muscle strength, and proprioception testing. Of these, 35 randomly allocated students completed a 6-week exercise program, after which muscle strength was reassessed. Each student performed PDs on six cows of which the pregnancy status, ranging from 6 weeks to 9 months pregnant or not pregnant, was predetermined by an experienced veterinarian. PD accuracy was measured as sensitivity and specificity, being defined as the proportion of pregnant or nonpregnant cows, respectively, correctly identified by the student. It is concluded that hand grip strength and participation in an exercise program are significant predictors of veterinary students' PD accuracy. Implementation of an exercise program aimed at improving grip strength in the veterinary curriculum is a novel approach to improve bovine TRP and PD training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-210
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Veterinary Medical Education
Issue number2
Early online date6 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • veterinary education
  • bovine pregnancy diagnosis
  • transrectal palpation training
  • veterinary students
  • isokinetic muscle strength testing


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