GSA Tour: Four Farms, One Afternoon

By Britney Armstrong, Beth Smith, Benjamin Guo, Joshua Gilliard

Being a school of agriculture, you’d think that we would be spending all of our time on farms. However, there are many things we must learn in a classroom before we get to see the animals at Virginia Tech’s farms. However, we made up for that classroom time by visiting four farms with four different animals in one afternoon.


The first steer we met at the cattle farm was a 1 ton Hereford with a cannula protruding from his neck. The cannula allows the students and professors to take grass samples. We then moved on to the cattle that were being trained to stand in a stall for the state show. The last group to visit the cows were able to help turn the cannulated steer out to the pasture! Getting to work with the cows was an exhilarating experience and it is all thanks to our wonderful tour guide!


Visiting a pig farm was a great experience, and gave our noses a new farm fragrance to breath in. Past the smell, our trip offered an interesting perspective of both hogs and piglets. Pigs are dangerous to each other due to their non picky appetites. In fact, our guide told us that the reason the pigs did not have spiral tails is because other pigs would eat off their tails. Aside from their cannibalistic habits, pigs are really fun, filthy animals.


Today we had the opportunity to visit a farm that bred horses like the black stallion “King” in the image. The horses were extremely friendly to everyone on the tour and many people got to experience interacting with a horse for the first time. The tour guide informed us about the many activities taking place at the farm including how they used artificial insemination to breed the horses which relates to the animal science lectures we had during class. Overall, meeting the horses at the farm was a neat experience and many appreciated petting and feeding these remarkable animals.


We also had the chance to stop by a sheep farm during our trip. We met the barn cat, tried to pet some sheep, and learned how to herd sheep between two pens (which was more difficult than anticipated). Some students even got a chance to flip sheep (as shown in this video), which is usually done to hold sheep still during shearing or medical examinations.


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