THIRD year animal science students at Murdoch University are getting hands-on experience in sheep lotfeeding.
As part of their assessment this semester, students are caring for as well as monitoring the progress of the stock under their charge, ensuring nutrition, health and welfare requirements are met while comparing two different diet regimes.
The feedlot is sponsored by Milne Feeds which has provided two sorts of pellets for the project, allowing students to learn about the difference in performance between a high energy diet and a maintenance diet.
Throughout the semester students have been learning about tagging, drenching, vaccinating, classing and visual assessing, as well as learning about diet formulation, feed efficiency, growth rates and fleece weights ,along with plenty of other practical sheep handling techniques.
When Farm Weekly visited the feedlot last week, students were learning how to take worm egg count samples and analyse the samples in the lab.
The students, many of whom are from metropolitan backgrounds, said it wasn't always the most glamorous prac-work, but they were learning a lot about managing sheep.
City girls Georgia Welsh and Yasmin Ismail said they were having fun in the hands-on feedlot project.
"Coming from the city, it's been really interesting learning about how to handle animals like sheep," they said.
"Most interesting so far has been learning about feeding the sheep and managing their diet as we monitor their feed intake."
The students are broken up into groups and assigned a roster for checking the sheep every morning at 7am, ensuring they have enough feed, water and checking for any potential health and welfare issues, in addition to their regular classes pertaining to the feedlot project.
Associate professor of animal science Andrew Thompson said the lectures feed into the practical side of the course so students were getting a rounded exposure to the feedlot process.
"The students will be writing a scientific paper taking into account their observations during their time running the feedlot," Dr Thompson said.
"So they are taking measurements in the feedlot regularly, analysing samples in the lab and collating their data which makes for a very interactive project which hopefully gives them a good understanding of the process."
Josh Sweeny from Milne Feeds said his company was glad to be involved in the project which supported the education of the next generation of agricultural industry professionals.
"The team at Milne Feeds has a fair few graduates from this course at Murdoch, including myself," Mr Sweeny said.
"So we're always trying to support student growth as much as we can.
"We were glad to provide the two types of feed to the project so the students can see first hand what different nutrients can do to promote animal growth."
Mr Sweeny said Milne Feeds planned to continue supporting projects like this into the future.
"We've got to look after our roots," he said.