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Optimus Prime Paddock to Plate - Caroline Chisholm College Cream of the Crop 2009
DO YOU KNOWWHERE YOUR MEAT COMES FROM?
I’m Laura, too! Hi! I’m Laura I’m AlexWe are here to tell you how a LEARNING PARTNERSHIP between High Schools and a University has given usAUTHENTIC experiences in Agricultural education!
Our story is about linking the real world experiences with our in school experiences in raising prime beef. Do you know where your meat comes from?
The partnership between The University ofWestern Sydney and Secondary Schools in the same region began 14 years ago.It is organised and managed by volunteer support from Agriculture Teachers, Staff and students from the University and NSW TAFE, and others who promote, judge the events, and sponsor the schools to help cover feed and transport costs.
The aim of the Uni-Schools Steercompetition is to encourage agriculture students in High Schools in Western Sydney region. Each school receives aPoll Hereford Steer and has 100 days to raise the steer to its full potential… …but what does that mean? For more information about the project you can go to:http://www.uws.edu.au/unischools_steer/unischools_steer_project
Monitoring growth and Training developmen theSo, what do t studentswe need to to lead thedo with the animal. steer girls?? Balancing Lots of our teamwork production costs like real farmers
May 2009 – Our Show team boardedthe school bus and went to anofficial Opening Ceremony at theUniversity of Western Sydney. We checked out our competitors from other schools, collected our steer, and brought him back to our farm to start the 100 day challenge.
Transforming from a skinny This is ourto a beefy steer steer called Optimus Prime (….beef) He weighed x 364 kgs when we picked him up, and we got him up to 497 kgs ready for the Show Days.
The Show Dayswere our real tests. We were judged on our parading skills,animal management and welfare knowledge, as well as the weight and appearance of Optimus Prime himself.
Getting the steer AND the paraders trained was hard work, but fun!
We used the halter to gain control of the steer.These are some of the actions we used to train Optimus. It took time and patience and practice!
Paraders need to show off their You also have to securely animal to the judge, keep his hold the leads, keep eyehead up, and under control at all contact with me, and keep times…AND you have to look your steer calm, all while like you are enjoying yourself! walking around looking confident! At least I’m standing square
Part of the Showing experience was the grooming process, making him look bigger then he already is… Trimming the fur to make it all even and feel like velvet
Our challenge included managing risksand dangers, and over-coming any fear of handling large animals Working with large animals has advantages and disadvantages. Our steer weighed over 460kg, so learning to control him was extremely difficult. As some students feared the steer, it was a challenge for them to work up the courage to lead him and show him who was boss. Learning to lead him enabled us to develop our self confidence and self-respect. We learned to respect animal behaviour and manage for risks by having the right equipment, being aware of possible dangers and having lots of support from teachers and fellow students.
Accidents did happen, However, in the end, itincluding the occasional became second nature tohead-butt and being lead him and havedragged across the school control to get him to walkoval! This was entertaining – stop – stand.for students doing sport on It proved to an enjoyablethe school oval! experience for all.
Where Will This Lead Us In The Future?Hello! We areAg teachers at Caroline Chisholm We LOVE College. agriculture ! This competition gave us a thorough understanding of Australia’s agriculture industries, animal welfare and ethical concerns, and what it takes to enhance the quality of Australian produce. Real possibilities of working in Agriculture include areas such as: education, animal welfare and ethics, advertising/marketing, research into genetics, breeding, nutrition, pest and disease management, and sustaining farming to make sure Agriculture can survive into the future.
While taking care of our steer, we learnt about someenvironmental impacts of beef production which must be managed to sustain the industry into the future…• Protect vegetation cover by not overgrazing• Limit soil compaction from hard hooves and machinery• Rotate paddocks regularly to allow pasture recovery• Balance the mix of native and exotic plant species to drought-proof the farm and improve biodiversity• Manage water pollution from manure-contaminated runoff by contouring the land into holding ponds
Meet Ag Found independence students from other schools GainedTalked with confidenceexperts in in ourselvesthe field On a personal level, we are now more aware of the environmental and health concerns of meat production. Buy food locally to avoid over-using fossil fuels for transport, and to ensure fresh produce. We now know where our food comes from and the effort needed to grow it.
We also learnt about theeconomics of the beef industryINPUTS such as the costs of feed, medical treatments, and transport must be less than how much income is made from the OUTPUTS such as the meat, leather, and fertilizer products sold.This is why farmers must always monitor how much they spend in growing their produce and continuously checkthe quality of their animals.
We are often asked, “How did theUnisteer Challenge reflect Reality?”…The Unisteer experience allowed us to come to terms with the question “Do you know where your meat comes from?” We now understand the costs and risks involved in being cattle producers. We are also aware of the amazing scientific research and development that has contributed to breeding and growing the best beef in Australia.
Just chillin’ with my peeps! It is important to decrease stress, makesure our animals have water and nutrients, and they are comfortable in theirsurroundings. It improves the meat quality – but more importantly it is ethically right.
Saying Good-Bye to “Optimus-Prime.”It was hard not tohumanise oursteer – we gotemotionallyattached to him.But this made usmore aware of thewelfare and ethicalissues aroundraising animals formeat.
Thanks for watching!Thanks to the Uni-Steer Competition for real-world, AUTHENTIC experiences in Agriculture!