Overnight Harness Racing Camp experience offered at Harrington Raceway in June

April 18, 2014 under Cooperative Extension

Harrington Raceway is hosting an overnight summer harness racing camp from Saturday, June 21 to Wednesday, June 25 for youth ages 12-14.  The camp is offered through a 3 way partnership formed between the Harness Horse Youth Foundation (HHYF), Harrington Raceway and the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension.

Campers will stay overnight at Harrington Raceway and spend a significant amount of time each day working hands on with the HHYF stable of Trottingbred racing ponies. Campers will participate in and learn about the daily care of race horses, racing equipment and harnessing, safety around horses and how to drive their equine athletes on the track.

In addition to HHYF and extension staff, local, professional drivers and trainers will be present at camp on a daily basis to help guide and instruct campers. The 5 day engaging camp experience culminates with campers partnering with professional drivers to race their ponies on the front track at Harrington Raceway, on the evening of Wednesday, June 25 in between the betting races.

Registration for the camp is $150 and covers all accommodations, meals and field trips.

Campers should wear long pants, solid toed work shoes or heavy sneakers, and t-shirts. No tank tops or shorts will be permitted while working in the barn. No previous horse experience is required.

Registration forms are available on the State 4-H Animal Science webpage and will be accepted through Thursday, May 15.

For questions, please contact Susan Garey at truehart@udel.edu or (302) 730-4000 or Ellen Taylor at the Harness Horse Youth Foundation at (317) 908-0029 or at ellen@hhyf.org.

The Harness Horse Youth Foundation is a charitable 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing young people and their families educational opportunities with  harness horses, in order to foster the next generation of participants and fans. The Foundation has been making a difference in young people’s lives since 1976, and its programs include interactive learning experiences with these versatile animals, scholarship programs, and creation and distribution of educational materials. For more information on opportunities through HHYF, or to support its mission, visit their website.

Cooperative Extension Education in Agriculture and Home Economics, University of Delaware, Delaware State University and the United States Department of Agriculture cooperating.  Distributed in furtherance of Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914.  It is the policy of the Delaware Cooperative Extension System that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex, disability, age, or national origin.

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UD group visits New Zealand to learn about differences in agriculture

April 1, 2014 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Students study in New Zealand learning about pasture growth through cooperative extension and classroom learningA study abroad program in New Zealand during Winter Session brought together undergraduate learning and Cooperative Extension experience, two major aspects emphasized by the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

This unique study abroad program blended classroom, experiential and extension education to deliver a unique discovery learning experience focused on New Zealand agriculture.

The five-week trip was led by Lesa Griffiths, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, and Susan Garey, animal science extension agent, who explained that the students divided their time between classroom learning and field experience as they traveled to farms and dairies to learn about the differences in farming and agriculture practices between the United States and New Zealand.

Garey said that she liked how the trip tied together the extension and undergraduate aspects of education. “We have the formal lecture in the classroom but getting out to the farm and looking at the blades of grass and seeing how pastures yields are measured and how you determine where to move the cows next in the grazing system, I just think really drives the point home to students.”

The students learned so much about New Zealand dairy and agriculture that two who went on the trip were able to present at Middletown High School at the annual meeting of the Delaware Holstein Association. The students talked about New Zealand agriculture and more specifically, about the dairy industry, such as typical farm size, how milk is marketed and the main products of the industry.

Pasture growth

Griffiths explained that the UD students learned a lot about pasture growth on their trip, both inside and outside of the classroom. Because the animals consume the grass available to them from pasture on farms in New Zealand, rather than being fed grain or harvested feeds, as is the case in America, understanding pasture growth is vital for that nation’s farmers.

The students stayed at Lincoln University in New Zealand, where they visited a 600-cow demonstration farm built to serve as a model for dairy farmers in the region.

Griffiths said the demonstration farm “serves more of an extension role — a place to try new pasture species, closely monitor pasture growth and animal performance, determine environmental impacts and share information with dairy farmers.”

Students learned from the farm manager about the concept of a pasture feed wedge, a graph of the current pasture status by ranking each paddock’s average pasture cover, she said.

“While the graph made it easy to see how much grass is out there for cows to consume, it was not so easy for students to visualize how the farmer gets his/her data on pasture grass production,” said Griffiths. To help farmers and students understand this, the farm staff would walk the pastures every Tuesday.

We showed up at the dairy and walked and measured weekly growth in each of the 21 paddocks. We stopped along the way and learned to evaluate the grass itself,” said Griffiths.

Jenna Wilson, a sophomore majoring in pre-veterinary medicine and animal biosciences, said it was clear that the farmers cared dearly about their grass. “They really want the grass to produce well so that the animals produce well. They talked about when they cut it and when they grow it, where they grow it, and how they divide up the pasture.”

Garey added that the need for animals to feed themselves through pasture originated out of necessity because the farmers “don’t have the soil types to grow as much grain as we do here.”

Dairy differences

One of the biggest differences the group learned about was in the management of dairy farms. “New Zealand exports a lot of milk but one of the big cultural differences is New Zealanders are not large consumers of fluid milk,” said Garey, who explained that a majority of that nation’s dairy production is exported in milk powders that are headed to Asia, as well as in baby formula and in products such as cheese and butter.

Garey added that while dairies in America tend to milk their cows 305 out of 365 days of the year, the New Zealand dairies milk their cows around 223 days a year.

Wilson explained that a big difference between the two countries is that New Zealand farms tend to be more hands off and have fewer buildings for the animals.

“They don’t really interact as much with the animals as we do — except for dairying, obviously, because they have to bring them in twice a day. But a lot of the time, they just put the animals out in the pasture and leave them there until they need to shear them or breed them,” said Wilson.

Deer farms

Another difference between the two nations is that in New Zealand there are deer farms.

“At the deer farm that we went to, the farmer was raising them for the velvet. Antlers in the velveting stage get shipped to Asia for medicinal purposes. When they get older they use the deer for meat,” said Wilson, who added that these farms are easy to spot because they have very high fences to prevent the animals from jumping out.

Garey added that the deer on those farms are red deer, which differ from the white tailed deer found in Delaware.

Garey said the deer farms are what she calls a sign of “Kiwi ingenuity,” explaining that because deer — along with other animals — were brought to New Zealand from England, they had no known natural predators and their population exploded. Some New Zealanders decided to trap the animals and farm them in order to harvest either their velvet or their meat, usually focusing on one or the other.

“They do well in the harsher country so it’s a way to use the variability of land,” said Garey. “The south island of New Zealand is very diverse from the flat plains to high country and hill country. The high country environment is much harsher and that would not be good land, necessarily, for milking dairy cattle, but deer can do well in those environments.”

Because of the variability of the land, the farms also have multiple uses, sometimes housing sheep, deer and cattle, instead of focusing on one species.

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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Nov: Equine Behavior Short Course

October 9, 2012 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

The University of Delaware Cooperative Extension is excited to offer a three-night educational series this fall on topics related to equine behavior. All three sessions will be held at the Paradee Center, Kent County Extension Office in Dover, Delaware from 6:30-8:30 pm. A registration fee and advanced registration will be required. Light refreshments and take-home materials will be included as part of the registration fee.

Night 1 on Monday, November 5 will focus around the theme of “Foundations of Equine Behavior” and will cover topics such as anatomy and physiology, the workings of the equine brain, normal or natural equine behavior and learning terminology and how horses learn.

Night 2 on Wednesday, November 7 will focus around the theme of “Handling Behavior Problems” and will cover topics such as stereotypies and dealing with common equine behavior issues. This evening will feature a special guest lecturer, Dr. Sue McDonnell from the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, a nationally known researcher and speaker on equine behaviors.

Night 3 on Wednesday, November 14 will focus around the theme of “Working Effectively with Equine Behavior” and will cover topics such as positive versus negative reinforcement, a review of current training approaches and common equine welfare concerns.

Interested individuals may attend just one or all three of the sessions. For more information please contact Susan Garey at (302) 730-4000 truehart@udel.edu or Dr. Carissa Wickens at cwickens@udel.edu.

For additional information and to register for this program, please visit the UD Cooperative Extension Equine Blog at http://extension.udel.edu/equine/.

If you have special needs that need to be accommodated, please contact the office two weeks prior to the event.

Cooperative Extension Education in Agriculture and Home Economics, University of Delaware, Delaware State University and the United States Department of Agriculture cooperating. Distributed in furtherance of Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914, Delaware Cooperative Extension, University of Delaware. It is the policy of the Delaware Cooperative Extension System that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex, disability, age or national origin.

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Cooperative Extension Equine Program launches educational blog

July 25, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Carissa Wickens, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension equine specialist and assistant professor of animal science, has developed an online educational resource for the equine community in Delaware and surrounding areas.

The UD Cooperative Extension Equine Blog was created to provide equine owners and the equine industry with up-to-date science-based information, and it offers valuable resources pertaining to horse care, management, health and the enjoyment of equine.

The blog aims to enhance opportunities to learn by connecting equine owners and enthusiasts with experts in the fields of equine and agricultural science, Wickens said.

The blog will include information on topics such as forage and pasture management, equine nutrition, equine behavior, equine health, upcoming events and educational programs. To provide the reader with a breadth of equine knowledge, links to additional equine-focused sites and resources are provided.

For questions not addressed in the posts, fact sheets or links included within the site, a recently added “Ask the Expert” section is available for further inquiries.

Wickens will continue to develop and improve the blog site in collaboration with colleagues Richard Taylor, Cooperative Extension agronomy specialist, and Susan Garey, extension agent, animal science, along with support from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications.

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