Animal Olympics Teaches ISU Students Livestock-handling Skills

February 11th, 2002

AMES, Iowa — "Let the games begin," will take on a different meaning at the Iowa State University Teaching Farm this week. On Friday, 160 students will attempt to herd sheep, drive cattle or move pigs and receive scores on how well they succeed.

Most of the students participating have little exposure to livestock. Brad Skaar, animal science professor, said the purpose of the class is to give students some hands-on experience.

"We have more and more students coming into animal science with less experience handling livestock," Skaar said. "This is part of a one-credit course that exposes students to livestock management."

The number one priority is safety for both the students and animals. Skaar said the students will work with cattle, pigs and sheep. One exercise involves moving pigs through a timed obstacle course.

"They have to handle the pigs in an easy, calm way and they can't carry the pig," Skaar said. "It demonstrates the principles of flight reaction and point of balance when you're working with animals."

Skaar emphasized that the activity isn't a formal competition but a chance for students to learn handling skills. The students will meet four times during the day from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the ISU Teaching Farm, which is located one mile South of Ames on State Street.

Contacts: 

Brad Skaar, Animal Science, (515) 294-2242

Eric Kinsley, Animal Science, (515) 294-3996

Barbara McManus, Agriculture Communications, (515) 294-0707

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