As a third year BSc (Agric) Animal Science student, I was under the impression that there was precious little anyone could tell me about different livestock production systems – let alone the systems employed on the Hatfield Experimental Farm. Having studied the different aspects of various systems in great detail during my second year and assisting in various research trials during my time at the University of Pretoria (UP), my expectations weren’t very high as the compulsory second year Agricultural Economics practicals loomed near.
How terribly mistaken was I! My knowledge of the dairy, pig, poultry and small stock systems proved very useful once the economic and management aspects were explained by our lecturers. This furthered our understanding of the difficulties of starting and maintaining a successful farm or agribusiness.
A personal highlight was during the second farm excursion when our lecturer allowed my fellow animal science classmates and I to explain the biological and production technicalities behind a typical poultry, pig and sheep enterprise. Our lecturer then discussed common management mistakes and lessons pertaining to each of the sections in great depth.
At the start of the semester, we asked ourselves the question: “Why is this module important?” After the practicals, I could answer that question confidently. During the practicals, we could see and hear how the physical task of farming, the management of livestock and finances as well as the economy all entwined with one another.
Overall, the practical excursions were pleasant experiences – not only from an academic point-of-view but also from a social point-of-view. We were able to learn something from everyone – including our second year BSc (Agric) Agricultural Economics students!
Based on my experience, I would like to thank our lecturers, Mr Deon Scheepers and Mrs Ulonka Barnard, for arranging these activities and investing that time in our futures.
I would highly recommend that each student pursuing a degree in Agriculture attend these excursions to the experimental farm hosted by the Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development. Natalie Portman (Star Wars, Thor) once said: “I do not like studying – I hate it. I like learning – learning is beautiful.” These excursions are definitely what I would describe as ‘great learning opportunities’!
3rd Year BSc (Agric) Animal Science