Livestock Production Systems - (30 credits)

Livestock farms are unique businesses where producing high quality and cost effective product, within a transitioning world dominated by environmental and social issues, requires consideration of wide range of interlinking factors and high standards of animal welfare. Livestock farmers and the allied industries working with them (nutritionists, veterinarians, advisors), need to understand animal biology and the physiological processes required for optimal management of growth, reproduction, health and welfare. They also need to make informed business decisions based on internal (e.g. individual animal performance, labour and vet costs) and external (e.g. environmental protection, changing social values, market fluctuations or disease outbreaks) factors. Farmers also need to make effective decisions about when to market animals for optimal returns. Finally, the handling and management of the animal both on farm and beyond can affect the quality of the final product. Students will therefore gain an understanding of animal health and husbandry and sustainable farm management through a range of practical activities including evaluation of commercial farm, analysis of farm datasets and laboratory sessions. Students will develop a deeper understanding of the complex links within and between farming and supply chain systems though the presentation and discussion of the outputs of their practical assessments.