Animal Science Students set Records at Royal Show
Animal and Poultry Science students from UKZN's School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences shone in various categories of the cattle competition at the Royal Show in Pietermaritzburg this year.
The top achievement was in the carcass auction at which a UKZN entry set a new South African record – this is the first time UKZN has produced a champion carcass since 1999. The champion steer carcass sold for a record price of R150/kg, with the winning bid from the Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga.
In other competitions, Ms Liberty Nkuna was awarded 1st place in the Future Farmers Steers class, Ms Nokwethaba Ntuli was second in the Commercial Steer Over 450kg class and Mr Rhys Boast was third in the Future Farmers Best Handler class, where competitors in all classes are assessed on their handling skills.
UKZN was placed first and fourth in the un-haltered class competition.
Each year, students from the discipline enter the steer project at the Royal Show where they take part in various competitions during which entrants display their animals.
Students who are interested in taking part get the opportunity to do so thanks to the work of Dr Nicky Tyler and Dr Marion Young in the discipline, who undertook the management of this project voluntarily.
Young and Tyler feel that the presence of UKZN students at the Show is important as they represent a section of the institution's agricultural studies, and it is also an opportunity for the students to benefit from exposure to industry and experiential learning.
Thanks to the support of industry, the Animal and Poultry Science staff has been able to give students the chance to be a part of competition at the Show.
The ten animals taken to the Show this year were secured through Andrew Adams of Virbac with the assistance of Bryan Mills from De Heus, with Adams and Mills supplying sponsorship for medication, feed and other associated costs.
Tyler organised training halters, brushes/curry combs and shirts, and SAEES provided funds for show halters and hay.
Students involved were also able to raise funds for some of the running costs incurred by their participation in the Show, making the experience all the more valuable for them.
The experience allows students to gain experience in handling animals and to learn about feeding cattle. The students also have the chance to show other cattle at the Show.
Preparation for the event involved the students weighing their animals weekly and recording their feed intake, enabling them to calculate average daily gain and food conversion efficiency. According to Tyler, through the project they also get to know their fellow students better and learn to work effectively as a team. The 21 students taking part this year were mostly in their third year.
Tyler expressed the group's gratitude to staff members at the Ukulinga Research Farm, who were instrumental in the care of the animals at the farm.
Photo: Dr Marion Young