On Wednesday October 24 2018, The AGRI130 class had guest speaker Mark Davis come in and speak to the class about horse racing and the industry within Delaware. Mark began by talking about the history of horse racing. According to mark horse racing is one of the oldest sport, however modern horse racing did not begin until the 12th century when the english knights brought back fast Arabian horses from the crusades that were taking place around that time. In the late 17th century and early 18th century the first race track in the United States was established on Long Island, New York. He went on to explain that today there are roughly 9 million horses in the U.S. with 2 million people owning horses. He also brought up how much money the horse industry brings in to the economy. He said this industry brings in $39 billion every year. I was amazed at how much money was incorporated in this industry. Before this guest lecture I had very little knowledge on this subject. However, now I know so many interesting things about the amazing horse racing industry in Delaware.
For one of our classes, we had the privilege to listen o Mark Davis guest lecture on the horse industry in Delaware. He started out by giving some history on the sport of horse racing and how it has been around, in different forms, for hundreds of years. It was interesting to learn how to standards, rules, and regulations have changed over the years. Now, horse racing is very heavily regulated to ensure not only the safety of the horse, but the rider as well. I was very surprised when Mark pointed out that the horse industry’s a $39 billion effect on the US economy annually. That is a lot of money. Afterwards, he dove more directly into the history of horse racing in DE which started in the 1760’s. Since than, he explained how many different commissions have formed as well as how to industry grew in DE.
Mark also talked a bit about the value of the Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds that are mainly used in the different types of racing. I can’t say that I was surprised to learn they are valued on average at $15,000-$20,000. I know the genetics of a good race horse can be highly valued, it is crazy to think that there are horses valued at even higher numbers. However, Mark showed us that if you own a good race horse you can win a decent amount of money on that investment. All that’s said and done, the horse industry as a whole provides many job opportunities but also a way for higher income people to invest their money. The horse racing industry can range from being utilized as an investment tool, a job for some, or just a recreational event for others to watch.
Our last field trip to the UD Research Farm was very interesting and informative. There is so much that goes on at the farm that I had no idea about, even though it is right down the street! Scott Hopkins did a great job bringing us to all the aspects of the farm and giving us insight and explanations on what goes on in each section of the farm. Although I have been to the farm on multiple occasions for my major, I haven’t had as much of an overview of all the moving parts of the farm before this field trip.
An area that I learned more about was the sheep. It was interesting to know that there is no “job” for these sheep, such as the dairy or beef cattle. The sheep are just there to be raised and reproduced and grow wool, but mainly there for teaching. It was also interesting for me to learn that they are separated into groups at random (for the most part) and stay with their group which also contains a ram. This ram wears a belt that visibly indicates when he mounts the sheep, to be able to check for pregnancy in breeding season.
Another area I did not have much knowledge on was the horses. I was able to get a glimpse of the horses grazing on the field, but the barn where the horses may go was the most fascinating for me. I have been in there once before, but had no idea about the technology and special features the barn had, which makes it easier for handling the horse for whatever reason needed. I also found it interesting that the horse can “control” going into labor, and be able to stop if she chooses to do so. The fully gated sides of the pen, versus just a tiny section of grate, allows people to see the horse, and the horse to see the people as well as the other surroundings. So, if the horse does not want to foal while someone is there, people can still keep tabs on the horse with cameras, which is something I think would be so beneficial.
Overall, this field trip was a great last field trip. We were able to learn more about all the things that go on at the farm that is a part of our school! It was also really cool (and yummy) to get some ice cream after, because it shows an end product of the dairy cow production. For me, it was so neat to be able to see a calf in its hutch, and then see how that’ll turn into a large cow in a short amount of time. This cow will then eat hundreds and hundreds of pounds of feed a day to allow it to produce the milk it does, which ultimately turns into the delish ice cream we can enjoy. Personally, seeing this full circle was the best part of this amazing field trip!
This past Saturday was our last field trip that I, unfortunately, could not make it to. But, fortunately, I have been to the Webb Farm many times in many other classes over the past 3 years. The dairy, beef, sheep, chicken, and horse facilities are great for research and learning about the different livestock used today. My freshman year I was fortunate to be in a class that allowed us to visit every building and learn about each. I heard that the superintendent, Scott Hopkins, mentioned that the dairy cows are the most challenging animal to care for on the farm. It is very labor intensive to control such a large herd let alone milk them twice a day. They are also put on feed trails to conduct studies on how diet affects their milk production and even how pregnancy affects their diet and milk production. The beef cattle are also great for research and for studying the effect of being fed more grass rather than grain. The sheep facility is the most interesting to me because before coming to the University I had no previous exposure to sheep. It is very cool to know they use crayons on the females for mating to see when the sheep are in heat. They are very much herd animals that are hard to separate. My favorite part of the farm is the horses. They are very interesting animals that can even stop birth if they think the conditions are not right. Not only are they accident prone, but they are very versatile to use for things like therapeutic riding, and even weight pulling. I’m very grateful to be able to attend a university with such great resources close enough to walk to.