2020 Feedlot Challenge: Students beef up their skills

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From left to right is Armand Algera, Dr Andy Hentzen, the leading veterinarian and co-ordinator of the 2020 Feedlot Challenge and Janco de Lange.

During February, the fifth-year veterinary science students who are participating in the 2020 Feedlot Challenge visited Beefcor, a fully integrated beef company. As one of the major sponsors of the competition, which is held each year by the Department of Production Animal Studies at the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Veterinary Science, Beefcor is loaning the competitors 160 calves with all of the accompanying feed necessary to make this year’s challenge a success.

The challenge is well underway with the first weigh-in data of each group already available on the competition’s website.

During February, the fifth-year veterinary science students participating in the 2020 Feedlot Challenge visited Beefcor, a fully integrated beef company.

Dr Andy Hentzen, the leading veterinarian and co-ordinator of the 2020 Feedlot Challenge, accompanied the students to Beefcor in Bronkhorstspruit where they learned about large-scale feedlots, their management systems and feeding requirements.

“During the Feedlot Challenge, we show our students how to manage a small-scale feedlot, thereby providing a hands-on learning experience that cements their theoretical knowledge. However, by exposing them to a commercial feedlot, they are privy to a wider spectrum of feedlot management. We have trained our students how to deal with various feedlot diseases, explain best feeding practices and mix feed rations. Now they can see how all of that knowledge can be practically applied on a larger scale.”

As one of the major sponsors of the competition, Beefcor is loaning the competitors 160 calves with all of the accompanying feed necessary to make this year’s challenge a success.

The game plan

Armand Algera, one of the students participating in the challenge, says proper preparation is key when it comes to caring for their cattle. “Through proper team co-ordination and planning, you can guarantee better results and limit the number of mistakes your team makes. It will all add up in the end, which is why every step forward should be well thought out.”

Another veterinary student, Janco de Lange, explains that all of the students participating in the Feedlot Challenge have a specific task assigned to them. As one of the group leaders, he is responsible for reporting on his group’s progress every week. “It can be challenging to formulate and mix weekly rations, not knowing if you hit the mark and if you will see significant results with regard to your cattle’s weight gain.”

Pierre Franken, beeflot manager at Beefcor.

Pierre Franken, beeflot manager at Beefcor, says practical experience offers more insight compared to theoretical knowledge, which is why Beefcor is a proud sponsor of the Feedlot Challenge. “The students got to see how we ration our feed, where we buy our cattle, how we manage feedlot diseases and they learned about our processing programs.”

So far, the first weigh-in revealed that Group 6, Farmer’s Beefly, is taking the lead in terms of the highest average daily gain since the auction at the Onderstepoort veterinary campus on 31 January this year.

Pierre Franken, beeflot manager at Beefcor, educates the fifth-year veterinary students who are participating in the 2020 Feedlot Challenge on commercial feedlot practices.

Important dates on the Feedlot Challenge calendar are:

27 May: On-the-hoof evaluation.

28 May: Slaughter at Chamdor Meat Market abattoir.

17 June: Prize-giving.

The sponsors of this year’s Onderstepoort Feedlot Challenge are Plaas Media, Zoetis, Beefcor, Vleissentraal Auctioneers and the SA Feedlot Association. – Claudi Nortjé, Plaas Media