Murdoch University Feedlot Provides Practical Experience for Students

August 27, 2021

One of the challenges for many university graduates is gaining hands-on, practical experience in 'real-life' industry settings.  Murdoch University has worked on bridging this gap, with the development of its on-campus sheep feedlot.  The feedlot, first commissioned in 2015, allows students to put their theoretical knowledge into practice and offers invaluable, ongoing sheep handling and husbandry experience.   With a focus on supporting the Western Australian agricultural industry, and a strong link to research and education, Milne Feeds is pleased to support the project by supplying feed for students' engagement in livestock nutrition.  Milne nutritionist, Dr Joshua Sweeny, and ruminant sales coordinator Sydney Arber recently visited the feedlot to share some of their knowledge and experiences with students.

The feedlot operates for eight to ten weeks of the year, with up to 120 weaners divided into four pens, supplied by Merino Lifetime Productivity (MLP) as part of its 10-year collaborative project.  Students in their third year of study are tasked with the responsibility of caring for, monitoring and measuring the sheep whilst in the feedlot.  Milne Feeds typically supplies two different types of feeds, e.g. EasyOne, and another variety of its commercial lamb and sheep pellets.  This enables students to assess and compare weight gain performance of the wether weaners on different planes of nutrition.  The feedlot project, and data collection, culminates in students preparing a short scientific report on their findings.

The initiative gives students experience in typical feedlot practices, such as feed efficiency, the introduction of lambs to the feedlot diet, and environmental and animal management factors.  Yarding, weighing, drenching and vaccinating all form part of the program.

Dr Sweeny and Sydney Arber, both graduates of the Murdoch University Animal Science degree, enjoy interacting with students and providing some insights into career opportunities.  Dr Sweeny graduated in the inaugural 2008 cohort, and went on to complete a PhD.  He has since carved out his career as the nutritionist at Milne, which involves ensuring feed rations are formulated to meet farmers' needs, and keeping abreast of the latest technology and global nutrition developments.  Sydney has first-hand experience in the Murdoch University feedlot, having participated in the program during her degree.  She graduated with honors in 2015 and went on to secure a career with Milne Feeds in 2016.  They both look forward to seeing the results of this year's feedlot reports.