Dan Severson guest lecture provided an insight into Delaware agriculture and the livestock industry. Throughout this presentation I learned a lot about Delaware’s agriculture that surprised me. Delaware ranks first in the U.S. in value of agricultural production per acre and second in value per farm. Being that Delaware is such a small state, this ranking really shocked me. I also learned that 40% of Delaware’s total land is farm land and an astonishing 29% of Delaware’s total land consists of corn and soybean crops – which makes sense being that poultry production is such a huge commodity in the Delmarva area. Severson also helped to portray the typical farm in Delaware. More than half of the farms operate less than 50 acre and bring in less than $50,000 per year. After providing a broad overview of the local agriculture, he went into depth about the dairy, beef, sheep, goat and swine operations within Delaware and a few staples from each – such as their average contribution to the economy or the common uses of each animal (ie: meat, wool, dairy products, genetics/show, etc.). I found this lecture to be one of my favorites – he was very knowledgable about each industry and provided great insight into each.
As a pre-veterinary student I felt as though I knew all there was to know about the amazing research farm we have here on campus. Every semester so far I have had a few classes down on South campus and if I wasn’t directly on the farm for class, I got to smell it! Even though I had seen the dairy farm, Webb farm and the poultry houses prior to this field trip I learned so much about what goes on at each of these facilities. Scott Hopkins, University of Delaware’s farm superintendent, took us around and went in depth about experiments both successes and failures, different classes that are offered on the farm to target non-agriculture students, new technology that’s been included in each facility to help advance research, management practices and so much more! Even though it’s a close runner-up playing with the calves wasn’t my favorite part of this field trip. Scott Hopkins shared a ton of information with us about the research farm and I took a lot away from it that I can’t wait to share with others but if there was one thing overall that I took away from this trip is, there is always more to learn! I went into this field trip thinking I was going to know everything he talked about and I was pleasantly surprised. I found myself amazed with all of the new things I learned about the farm after the field trip was over!
On November 4th, my class had the privilege of meeting the University of Delaware’s Newark farms superintendent, Scott Hopkins, who led the tour for us. We started the tour with an introduction to the dairy herd that supplies us our beloved UDairy ice cream. Scott Hopkins explained that the dairy herd was the most difficult and time consuming livestock on the farm due to the amount labor, time and research that goes into the herd. I found it really interesting to see how feed studies were conducted on a herd within by the use of ID collars that would sync with a specific feed bin that granted that specific cow access to its feed. This practice helps to conclude that technology plays a major role in livestock production. We then moved onto the poultry section of the farm where he explained to us why there were so many small shed-like houses. These are used for testing immunology and virolity amongst small flocks of birds. I think that this field of research is so fascinating and important, especially since the poultry industry is huge to the Delmarva area. Next, we ventured to Webb Farm where we learned about the beef management practices, equine practices, as well as the sheep practices. Currently, the farm is tracking estrous in the ewes and are monitoring breedings and whether or not the ewes take. They track this by recording which ewes have the color coded chalk on their backs – marking a mounting by the ram – and crossing the presence of chalk with their estrous cycles. Scott was very informational and provided a lot of insight into how much work really goes into running a successful farming operation. He was well versed and had a tremendously wide amount of knowledge. I learned a lot on this trip and I hope to continue learning more about management practices throughout my time here at the University of Delaware
This previous Saturday, I spent time at the University of Delaware farm. I was so intrigued to see how this farm is able to teach students hands-on techniques in a manner that is safe and understandable. I was so amazed at the fact that dairy cows are taught where they are to feed and they are smart enough to retain that information and store it in their memories. I also really enjoyed how honest the farm manager was. He didn’t sugar-coat any type of information that we should know and made sure we knew to hold ourselves accountable for our actions. Walking through the farm was such a different experience than being on main campus. Everything is so calm, whereas main campus is always bustling. Seeing the mini versions of the chicken houses was also interesting, especially because we got to compare it to the full size version at Georgie’s farm. Overall, I very much enjoyed this field trip, especially the UDairy!
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.
Not only was this past Saturdays weather very cool, so was our field trip around the Newark farm. Scott Hopkins, the University of Delaware farm superintendent gave us a fascinating tour of the Webb Farm.
We were fortunate enough to see the milking parlor and learn that dairy cows are the most challenging animal to care for on the farm. Growing up on my families dairy operation I was able to see and experience first hand how labor extensive taking care of dairy cows can be and understood greatly what Scott Hopkins was explaining.
Not only did we see the dairy operation but we saw the beef, sheep and equine facilities. The equine facility was rather new with a large classroom that was very versatile and could also be used a spot for more hands on learning such as artificial insemination, collecting semen or even having the option to do some horse therapy and therapeutic riding. We also learned about the extensive research projects being conducted, Mr. Hopkins favorite being forage research.
We ended our trip with a stop at UDairy creamery. This was for sure one of my favorite field trips because of all the research being done in such close proximity.
During the field trip the farm superintendent of University of Delaware, Scott Hopkins, gave the class a tour of the agricultural field’s mechanical devices, identified the poultry houses and how they are used for research, demonstrated another form of research students focus on for dairy cows regarding a controlled ration being fed, explained the high tunnel and it’s purposes in operating as organic even though it is not verified organic, etc…Additionally when we rode the bus to Webb Farm, the research farm for UD students, Mr. Hopkins took us into the equine building and we briefly discussed how the mares could easily stop giving birth if there was the slightest disturbance during this time such as a student talking while waiting. I personally enjoyed the part of the tour where Scott picked up a handful of the ration being fed to the dairy cattle in controlled research classes because it smelled nice- I believe the ration was a cut up hay forage. Next we moved on to the sheep which I felt was the coolest part of the research farm because I’ve taken classes and learned about equine, poultry, beef and dairy cattle, but learned very little about sheep over my time at UD. During this part of the field trip, Mr. Hopkins talked about the male sheep having a device attached to his body that would spray paint on the back end of the females he would mount in order to check if the population was successfully impregnated. I found this interesting because he would change the color of the paint after a number of days which demonstrated if the first round of sperm was a hit or miss- if the first round impregnated the sheep, it would not have the new paint color demonstrating that the first attempt did not work.
Next we looked at the black Angus beef cattle in which Mr. Hopkins talked about the factors that come into consideration when he decides whether or not to cull a cow. For instance, if a cow decides it no longer wanted to mother a calf, he would remind this cow of it’s protective instinct to protect the cow, as a second chance before considering culling. Also, he briefly mentioned why the bulls were castrated before slaughter and why this was important for a consumer point of view. The reason being that a bull produces testosterone and when the bull is being slaughtered for it’s meat, the stress is shown in the meat because testosterone is produced which causes the color of the meat to turn into a dark blood red color, which is not favorable to consumers when they purchase the final product. I also learned that UDairy Creamery sells the meat that was raised on Webb farm, which is pretty cool because consumers of this generation care about factors such as how their food was raised by the farmer and what went into the process of making their product. Overall, this was a fun field trip and I learned a little more about how the animals are raised than I knew before.