Western adventure for budding vets
First published September 9, 2013
A group of James Cook University Veterinary Science students from Townsville recently ventured out to Western Queensland for their annual Sheep Week adventure.
Sheep Week, which JCU has run since 2008, is designed to provide a holistic overview of sheep and goat farming and to prepare future veterinarians for the challenging job of diagnosing and treating livestock animals in Western Queensland.
The 58 third-year students spent a week based at the Australian Agricultural College Corporation (AACC) in the Longreach area visiting grazing properties to learn about agricultural production, farming systems and the life as a vet in rural Queensland.
Livestock Production Lecturer Chris Gardiner said the focus of this year’s event was hands-on learning with the introduction of two new components: field post-mortems and meat science teachings. The event also included a number of farm visit and lectures, veterinarian guest speakers and Q&A sessions.
“We feel it’s important to give our students a ‘western experience’ as some students may not be given the opportunity; it’s a cultural experience of life in the outback,” Mr Gardiner said.
He said that the students were able to see the effects of the current drought, its impact on animal production and the strategies used by graziers to manage the conditions.
“The week provided a different perspective from hearing about farming issues in a lecture to hearing it from a farmer and seeing first hand - it is extremely important,” Gardiner said.
For third year student Dan Murphy, having grown up on a sheep property in South-Western Queensland, Sheep Week provided an opportunity to put learning into practice.
“The necropsies were really good, we did post-mortems at the AACC, along with pregnancy diagnosis scanning and learning about strategic feeding.”
“We were given the chance to see future clients in their own environment, to go behind-the- scenes, which gave us a greater appreciation for the role of a grazier.
“We really did appreciate it – it’s not all figures, slides and PowerPoints, it’s actually out there and it’s real.”
The Sheep Week students are always based around Longreach but farms may change from year to year, depending on availability.
Photos of the students on site are available.
JCU Media contact: Caroline Kaurila (07) 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175