Northumberland College students receive novel addition to lessons

A group of agriculture students was given an intriguing lesson as part of studies into future farming careers.

By David Sedgwick
Wednesday, 12 June, 2019, 09:00
Agriculture students from Northumberland College with tutor Simon Gregory.

The 12 students from Northumberland College witnessed an animal autopsy delivered by leading vet Ben Strugnell, of Farm Post Mortems.

He devised a novel addition to the Fallen Stock Collection System, where farmers are offered autopsies on their deceased cattle, with the results enabling them to better understand the cause of death and help protect their remaining stock.

Simon Gregory, lecturer in sheep management at the college, said: “This learning curve is a crucial way for our students to better understand why some livestock die. It shows them first-hand how better management and vaccination techniques can save farmers money, time and livestock.

“This workshop gave them a greater understanding of how disease can directly impact upon an animal’s body, enabling a greater understanding of anatomy.”

The students, aged 17 to 20, saw the devastating affects some diseases can have on the organs of cattle, including an abscess in both the heart and liver and a perforated uterus.

Student Georgia Stoddart, 18, who wants to pursue a career in livestock, said: “We all found watching the autopsy very interesting.

“It taught us how diseases, if not treated properly, can devastate a herd.

“It was fascinating to see the animal organs up close as we normally only get to see the procedures in text book diagrams.

“We also got to talk with the vet about the report he needs to write for the farmer and how they can learn from the autopsy process.”

Fellow student Ethan Parry, 19, said: “I learned lots from the autopsy, like how the insides of animals work, including how bacteria helps the digestion of food.

“Another crucial skill that was reinforced was the correct way to perform a vaccination as the repercussions of doing it the wrong way could prove fatal.”

Ben said: “It’s all about educating the young farmers of the future and giving them access to current agriculture methods and findings that can help them with their studies and career development.

“The educational visit also gives the students an opportunity to talk directly with an industry vet and discuss the reasons behind the death of the animals and how the fatality could be avoided.”

He added: “Time spent down on the farm under real-life conditions can only be beneficial for the young people. It will be a useful component towards their final training and helps to ensure the farming industry continues to be in safe hands for years to come.”