On November 10th, we took a tour of the University of Delaware farm by the farm superintendent Mr. Hopkins. At the university, we are extremely fortunate to have a fully-operational farm on campus. This is something very few universities in the area can claim.
Our tour began by going through the UD organic farm where the Fresh 2 You gardens and high tunnels are. This garden provides produce to restaurants and the University. From there we moved to the milking parlor. Knowing very little about dairy operations, I was shocked at how much technology goes into the process. The milking machines are capable of testing many different qualities of the milk to ensure that the product is sufficient. Furthermore, those who run the parlor are very meticulous about checking for many health standards in the cows, like mastitis. We then went to the dairy barn where we learned about how UD can conduct research on dairy nutrition and how various diets can impact milk production. Through this experience it became very clear how multifaceted dairy production truly is.
Next, we transitioned to the Webb Farm where we first focused on equine production. UD has a few horses, a small arena, and a teaching stable. We then moved to the sheep barn, where we learned about various nutritional and breeding strategies being used in the sheep production. The herd also provides wool used to create blankets at UDairy. Finally we saw the beef cattle herd from afar.
Despite being a very cold day, the tour was extremely engaging and made me very excited for my next 4 years in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
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!