Aim for a Future Working with Farm Animals
This course provides a solid foundation for people who wish to work with livestock and other animals which are bred and looked after for produce.
Learn about best practices for animal welfare and productivity systems through gaining an in-depth knowledge of animals from anatomy through to behaviour. Discover how to maintain farmland through proper management of animals.
Develop the skills to be successful in the animal husbandry industry
You can direct your studies to your current area of expertise, or choose a new direction for yourself. You can also make your studies as focused or as broad as you need it to be.
This program is different to many others, because it goes well beyond just teaching you basic animal husbandry skills, but offers a solid foundation of the necessary science and agricultural industry background. It is an "experiential based" learning program; designed to get you involved with a variety of industry professionals, while exploring the nature, scope and infinite possibilities of this diverse field of agriculture.
For ongoing success, you need to become "connected". This networking within the industry will provide the basis to remain "connected", so that you can evolve and adapt to changes as your career moves forward.
This can be established with the guidance from your program tutors who are are skilled professionals, who are experts in individual subject areas. The combination of their qualifications and many years of actual practical experience, will benefit you greatly as you work through the program.
If you are interested in working in agriculture at a technician or management level; in positions such as a farm manager, technical representatives, trainers or consultants - this is a great program for you.
Note that each module in the Advanced Certificate in Agriculture (Animal Husbandry) is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.
What is the Best Production Method?
The type of system chosen by a farmer may be influenced by several factors, including:
Availability of land
If the amount of land is limited, it may be necessary to use an intensive production method (eg. lot feeding), if the farm is to operate on a financially viable scale.
Natural resource factors include, the quality of land, nature of climate, water and other resources. Certain conditions may be needed to support a particular type of animal.
Desire to be able to expand in the future
Some farmers may have little desire or need for expansion; but sometimes expansion is essential to remain economically competitive.
Some systems require more labour. It takes manpower to mend fences, muster stock, provide supplementary feeding or watering, or to move stock about; so by minimising these tasks, the labour required to manage the farm is also minimised.
The most common system for most farm animals in Australia has traditionally been grazing.
Grazing in Paddocks
Traditional farms are divided into paddocks. Paddocks may be used any of the following ways:
Animals are left in the same paddock for a year or longer (ie. continuous grazing). Stock may then be mustered (rounded up) as required (eg. for marking, veterinary treatments, shearing or selling).
Set stocking leaves animals in the same paddock throughout the better part of the year, but not all year. It aims to minimise moving stock (and causing any stress), while providing the best feed. If and when pasture declines, the stock may be moved. This system is only appropriate on fertile sites.
Grazing animals are rotated between paddocks (ie. rotational grazing), usually every week or so. Paddocks are commonly rested for up to 5 weeks before grazing again. This system is particularly appropriate for fertile pastures, such as irrigated lucerne on a dairy farm.
Cell grazing (ie. time controlled grazing), places animals on a pasture for an "optimum" time period, designed to achieve the best benefit to the animal, and the optimum productivity from the pasture. It is similar to rotational grazing, but the period it is grazed for will depend upon various factors such as rate of pasture growth and the age and type of animal.
Deferred grazing involves hand feeding stock in a paddock for about six weeks after rain, in order to allow the pasture to develop more quickly.
Strip grazing is a method used by farmers to maximize the effect of available pasture. In some cases this may be a specifically planted crop, such as a fast growing broad leaf crop (such as Speed feed) or it may be simply rationing pasture during times of drought or when food is scarce.
An electric fence is used to cordon off a certain amount of the pasture from the animals grazing. This allows the farmer to move the strip to be grazed each day or when necessary.
Strip grazing saves crops from trampling, this is especially so in the case of a dairy herd which will graze heavily immediately after milking and then resort to laying around chewing its cud and more leisurely feeding. If allowed access to the entire crop much of it would be wasted.
During times of drought, water becomes scarce, and fresh green feed also becomes less available. This can be the case even upon irrigated farms which are often subjected to water rationing along with the rest of the community. In some types of farming green feed is essential for quantity and quality of produce. Dairying is a classic example, the farmer may provide grain or molasses to compensate for lack of food available but some green fodder is paramount to milk production. Hungry cows will simply dry up and stop producing milk.
Free range is widely used in districts where vast areas of land are available. The animals are allowed to roam the site with little or no supervision by farmers. Some control is obtained by way of fencing.
The land area must be large enough to stock the number of animals and must also be self sufficient in terms of water and feed. The carrying capacity should not be exceeded. The carrying capacity of a pasture refers to the number of animals which can be grazed on the pasture during the grazing season.
When feed is overgrazed by the animals they should move onto another area, either within the fenced zone or to another fenced area.
Hoofed animals and some fowl species are commonly free ranged. Birds however may need to be confined some way to prevent flight. In this case, or for flightless birds, care should be taken against predators.
Large Scale/Open Range Grazing
Farming properties in some arid or semi arid areas are extremely large, measured in terms of square kilometres or miles, rather than acres or hectares. It is often uneconomical to fence such properties into paddocks.
Animals are usually stocked at low rates (ie. relatively few animals per unit area), and animal husbandry operations are kept to a minimum. Livestock may be rounded up (ie. mustered), periodically (maybe annually), for veterinary treatments, marking or selling.
Mustering has traditionally been done on horseback (which is still widely used), though motorised vehicles and even aircraft are now being increasingly used to aid mustering on large properties.
If a farm has insufficient pasture to meet the needs of its animals, any of the following techniques may be used as a supplement to grazing:
Animals may need supplementary feeding especially in times of drought or flood. They placed into a confined holding paddock may also required additional feeding.
In some areas, animals may be brought under cover (eg. in a barn) over winter. This practice is more common in cold climates (eg. northern Europe). Animals which are particularly valuable may be stabled during colder (or wet) weather.
When the available land is either too small for the head population of the animals, or when drought or flood occur, it may be necessary to consider agistment. Stock is taken to other properties where feed is available. Agistment is only used when other possibilities become non viable; given the cost involved, and the stress that transportation can cause animals.
Working with Animals in the Future
You can’t predict where the jobs of the future will be. Today’s world is simply changing so fast. Technological, economic and cultural change is reshaping the workplace every year.
There will however always be animals in the world and people will continue to work with animals; as pets, as farm animals, and as wildlife. The way in which we work with animals may well change; but people who have knowledge and skills that relate to working with animals should continue to find work.
How then Do You Forge a Career in an Unpredictable world?
Start by developing a good foundation, then become a part of change rather than a victim of change.
The pet industry is continually reinventing itself, with new services and products.
Advancements in agriculture are changing the way we farm animals
Cultural changes, such as attitudes to animal welfare, are changing how we interact with animals
Environmental and conservation pressures are changing the way we manage wildlife.
Some people are well connected with industry and society at large; and sensitive to change. They become conscious of business or career opportunities before others; and if they have the right attitude and capabilities, they take advantage of the opportunities they see.
If you want a sustainable career working with animals (or anything else for that matter), you should try and place yourself in that category.
To develop and improve your opportunities, you need to work on all of the following things. Start with education; but don’t expect education alone to guarantee a sustainable career. Those days are long gone!
Learning anything about animals provides a foundation for continued, life long learning.
Learning can come from doing formal courses or informal in house training within your job, training with an external agency, taking a course and so on. If you understand their biology, psychology and husbandry; you will be able to communicate with colleagues and comprehend developments in industry as you progress through our career. Without a foundation, everything can be harder to understand; and opportunities in the future might go unnoticed.
Build up contacts in industry. Success often comes from not just what you know but also who you know; just as much as what you know.
Join organisations, volunteering to get relevant experience with animals. Attend meetings, seminars, conferences, and shows. Immerse yourself in any relevant social media groups that deal with animals. Do all these things; but balance them. Too much of one thing and neglect of others, does not work. Other things matter too!
This course provides the foundation you need for a lifelong and sustainable career or business with animals.