Practical experience was the name of the game during the animal science students’ visit to Hillcrest Game Estates. Here they receive valuable tips about applying the science they are taught at university to a real-life situation.


Running a game farm


On 11 September 2019, 16 students found themselves sitting on a deck, watching the sunrise over a hill covered in lush vegetation.


As the crisp, fresh air filled their lungs, Piet Botma, manager of Hillcrest Game Estates, briefed them on their lessons for the day.


Situated in the North West Province, Hillcrest Game Estates is part of a large farming enterprise.


The lucky students had the opportunity to gain first-hand experience on what it takes to run a game farm.


Not only did they have to dart a number of sable antelopes and load them onto a vehicle for DNA sampling, they also had to measure the antelopes’ horns and check their tracking devices.


Animal Sciences is cultivating work-ready students

With the current youth unemployment rate sitting at an alarming 55,2%, the NWU is pulling out all the stops to equip its students with skills that will give them an advantage in the job market.

Students listen attentively to a talk on cattle breeding during their visit to the Firth Red farm.

Having recently joined the NWU, animal sciences lecturer Prof Paul Lubout decided to collaborate with a number of commercial farmers and industry partners to equip his fourth-year students with the practical experience they need.


The result is a practical training partnership between commercial farmers and service providers, and the NWU. This partnership offers students a combination of on-farm practical training during tuition and internship opportunities after qualifying.


“Animal sciences is an applied science, and students need to have practical experience for them to be employed on a farm or in the farmer support sector,” says Paul. “They have to be able to effectively apply the science they were taught at university.”

In the above video, you can see how the students gained first-hand experience on what it takes to run a game farm.


In the video below the students worked with cattle at the Firth Red cattle farm.




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Hands-on experience


On 9 October 2019, the students traded in their jeans and t-shirts for  overalls and  Wellington boots.


This time, they gained first-hand experience of working with cattle at the Firth Red cattle farm.


Also situated in the North West Province, Firth Red is part of a large farming enterprise that hosts 400 stud, 600 commercial cattle and approximately 80 wagyu cattle.


On arrival, the students were quizzed on the breed standards and terminology used to identify the animals’ body parts by John Rafferty, breed director at Brangus Cattle Breeders.


He also gave them a brief lecture on the practical application of the breed standards and estimated breeding values.


The students had the opportunity to inspect and estimate the breeding value of five bulls and five cows.


They learned how to identify animals that have superior genetics that will enable them to mature quickly and produce superior offspring.




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