For their final course project, students in the Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Department's VET 403 course, titled Animal Diseases and their Control, have the somewhat daunting task of examining a local livestock operation's animal disease prevention practices.
Students in the 82-member class break into teams, each of which covers a specific category of disease; examples include calf illness, diseases related to milk production, infectious disease in the milking herd, and even zoonotic disease issues for staff and workers. The teams then assess the disease prevention strategies aspect on the dairy they visit. The final deliverable is a report and class discussion that focuses on the success of those interventions and areas for improvement.
Especially critical to the success of the students' work is the cooperation of local dairies to host these groups. This year, Crosswinds Jerseys, Linde Dairy, Old Tree Farm, and the SDSU Dairy hosted these students, many of which had not previously spent time on a modern dairy.
According to Dr. Russ Daly, instructor, the project allows students to get a ‘real world’ picture of animal disease control. "The comment I hear from many students is that some of the procedures we talk about in class sound pretty simple until you go to the farm and try to put them into action.” The course covers general concepts of animal diseases, including biosecurity and biocontainment, and the science behind the use of vaccines and antibiotics before getting into specific livestock diseases common to the area in the second half of the course. The goal of the final project is for students to synthesize what they’ve learned in the class and apply it to a commercial livestock operation.
Students taking the course are primarily majors in animal science and dairy science, along with students in the pre-veterinary program. The course recently moved from an elective to a required course for animal and dairy science majors at SDSU.