Toward the end of each Spring semester at South Dakota State University, students in Dr. Russ Daly’s VET 403/503 course, “Animal Diseases and their Control,” have the daunting task of visiting a local livestock farm and examining their disease control practices. As a starting point, students use materials from Iowa State University’s Center for Food Security and Public Health to focus on specific actions the farm takes, or should be taking, to keep animal diseases out of the farm, or limit their spread.

Students break into teams, each of which covers a specific aspect of the farm: everything from visitor policies to calf feeding to milking procedures are examined. Students use the concepts they learned earlier in the semester to come up with recommendations for improvements and to recognize the effective actions the farm currently takes. Each team prepares a written and oral report of their findings, which is presented to the farm owner on the last day of class.

According to Daly, “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.”

Students taking the course include pre-vet, animal science, wildlife and fisheries, and dairy majors. This year, students visited Mossings Dairy near Egan, SD.