Student Gain Hands-on Animal Handling Experience

Published: 
Thursday, July 23, 2015

A demographic change of students majoring in animal sciences and veterinary sciences has made it a necessity for more hands-on experiences with large animals in courses taught by the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences. A majority of these students do not come from livestock production backgrounds, and as a result, these students have had minimal experience working with large animals.

These gaps in the learning experience of students moved the faculty to add more hands-on opportunities for students and to re-establish a teaching farm to be used as a supplemental teaching tool in courses taught by the School. The farm is located on the west end of the Campus Agricultural Center at Roger Rd. and Campbell Ave. Included in the farm is a beef cattle unit that consists of approximately 30 commercial cows, a sheep unit with 20 ewes and a hog unit that has a capacity of finishing out 60 market hogs. The hog unit will also have the capacity to farrow 3-4 sows twice a year.

One of the classes created to afford students more hands-on livestock experience is Introduction to Livestock Production (ACBS 202).  In the class students become familiar with the production and management of beef cattle, swine, sheep and goats. Topics discussed in the class include handling and facilities, nutrition, anatomy and physiology, breeding and genetics, reproduction, record keeping and economics.  A lab is included with the class and gives students a dedicated time each week to safely work with and maneuver animals they may not have had a chance to handle before.  While the main focus of the class is livestock animals one class and lab session is dedicated to companion animal handling, mainly cats and dogs.  This session is popular with students and assists those that are considering a career in veterinary science to be safe and confident in their animal handling techniques.