Food Animal Production: Sheep & Goats
Learning and working in the sheep program at Cal Poly gives students an uncommon opportunity to interact closely with sheep as undergraduates. Beyond building a confident understanding and working with the animals, the sheep program emphasizes teaching in context of real-world business management techniques and applications.
Faculty members keep close affiliations with the sheep industry and teach students about current issues like sustainability and resource management. Both are essential aspects of working with Cal Poly sheep; in learning proper grazing management techniques, Cal Poly students explore how sheep can be used to improve rangeland quality and even restore native grasslands.
Additionally, students in this program develop skills in areas such as multiple-species grazing, financial planning, breeding and selection with new types of genetics, electric fence design and use, and market development.
Cal Poly has great opportunities for hands-on experience in the enterprise courses and species classes. You don’t necessarily have to have a background with animals; I came from an urban environment, but just being here I got experience around the animals. The teachers are nice and want to show you how to do things, like work with the ewes—because that’s what the animals are there for, for your education.
Erika Hucal, third-year Animal Science student
Established in the summer of 2012, the Cal Poly Goat Program was developed and launched by an animal science undergraduate to allow students to gain hands-on experience with goats and to provide vegetation management services on the Cal Poly campus. At present, the Goat Program has a herd of thirty-five Boer and Boer crossbred does and wethers. The Goat Program integrates Cal Poly’s hands-on, ‘Learn by Doing’ philosophy with student entrepreneurship and sustainable management practices to serve the needs of students as well as the greater part of campus. Under the guidance of a faculty advisor and student manager, students in the Goat Enterprise move the goats to various locations as requested.
Enterprise students gain hands-on experience while working with the animals, including hoof trimming, vaccination, deworming and parasite control, record keeping, nutrition, and grazing management. Vegetation management services are provided to areas belonging to the Animal Science Department, Facilities, Agriculture Operations, and additional departments. The goats are used as an alternative to mowing or spraying to clear brush to reduce fire fuel, reduce noxious and invasive weeds, reduce plant growth in undesired areas, and promote growth of desired plant species.