Writer: Tana Luna
This summer, 39 Aggies in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences went down under during the Agriculture and Animal Production study abroad to explore agricultural practices in Australia. The trip took place from July 28 – Aug. 12 and was led by Dr. Shawn Ramsey and graduate student, Kayley Wall.
This study abroad program allowed students to explore the regions’ livestock industry including beef, dairy, horse, and grain/crop production systems. The program offered a wide range of experiences from meeting with leading producers, in-depth touring of farms, tasting local foods and viewing the scenic Australian countryside and coastlines. The group’s travel included:
July 28: Arrived in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
July 29: Toured the Brisbane Markets and the Hermitage Research Station en route Stanthorpe.
July 30: Visited a leading breeder of stud Charolais and commercial composite beef cattle at Dalveen.
July 31: Toured the Dutton Trout Hatchery, which breeds around two million trout every year.
August 1: Visited the oldest university in Australia, the University of England, and met with the professional staff of the Agricultural Business Research Institute. The group then traveled to Walcha to visit the Walcha Dairy, where 800 cows are milked daily.
August 2: Students visited a family operated dairy goat farm that is a registered stud operation for pure bred Saanen dairy goats. Down the road, the students toured Yalgoo – a leading Hereford and Merino breeding operation. After this, the group traveled south to Tamworth to visit Texas Star Quarter Horse Stud operation.
August 3: The group toured a leading egg producer at Glenwarrie Partnership to visit the full life-cycle of egg production. Students then had the opportunity to visit a dynamic commercial cattle producer at Goonoo Goonoo Station that runs approximately 3,500 breeding cows. In the afternoon the group toured Kooiyong –a mixed cropping enterprise which has hosted wheat trials for yield.
August 4: Students visited the IA Watson Grains Research Center near Narrabri, which is the main field testing site for the University of Sydney. The group then traveled east to visit Amarula Dorpers. The final visit of the day was to a 100% mixed cropping property.
August 5: The morning started off visiting a Poll Merino wool and lamb producer at Billa Billa that focuses on producing dual purpose merino sheep. The students then had a chance to stretch their legs while visiting Bicentennial Park in Millmerran. That evening the group traveled towards Brisbane through the Darling Downs Region.
August 6: In Brisbane the group attended the 139th Royal Queensland Show. The students spent the day exploring the showgrounds, watching the livestock judging and ring events, and sampling the famous Ekka Strawberry Sundae. The group then departed for Toowoomba.
August 7: Students visited the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and interacted with some of Australia’s native animals. Students were able to hold koalas, hand feed kangaroos, and meet many other native animals.
August 8: The group visited the weekly livestock sales at the Toowoomba Saleyards and met with one of the stock agents. After the sales, students visited the Gatton Research Station which is regarded as the leader in vegetable production research. That afternoon students spent the day with the academic staff for the Centre for Advanced Animal Science.
August 9: Visited the Sandalwood Feedlot, a 17,000 head custom feedlot. The group enjoyed lunch at the Bellview Hotel at the foothills of the Bunya Mountains.
August 10: The group toured Cherax Park Aquaculture that has 57 ponds of Redclaw, a species of native crayfish. That afternoon the group visited Nolan Meats.
August 11: The group headed into the Glass Mountains to visit Pinata Farms, Australia’s largest pineapple producer. Students then relaxed on the beaches of the Sunshine Coast and explored nearby shops.
August 12: Departed Australia and headed home to Aggieland.
The student group included Donald Bowers, William Bredemeyer, Allison Campos, Cheryl Cheshire, Rikki Cisne, Britney Connally, Ashley Corona, Brandon Cronin, Hayden Garlin, Ciarra Gawlik, Isela Gonzalez, Kari Graham, Abby Hickox, Carly Hoffmann, Jen Hogan, Jenna Hunt, Lacy Ide, Mason Irvin, Tamra Kott, Catherine Kuylen, Emily Mahalitc, Cheyanne Millican, Megan Mills, Elissa Nabozny, Kyle Ramsey, Guadalupe Saenz, Bailey Salas, Andrew Scamardo, Jon Singletary, Erika Snyder, Heather Speck, Mykala Thompson, Will Vann, Erika Victor, Kelsee Wade, Kirsten Walker, Heather Warfield, Cord Wieghat, and Abby Wolf.
What was the most memorable part of the trip for you?
I’d have to say the most memorable part of my trip was going to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. We got to take pictures holding koalas as well as feed and pet kangaroos and wallabies. I also really liked being up close with the rest of the indigenous species in the sanctuary and then getting to see them in their natural habitats while travelling through Australia. – Rikki Cisne
The most memorable part of the trip was when I got to milk a rainbow trout at the Dutton Trout Hatchery in Ebor. It was a one-of-a-kind experience and certainly not something I would be able to do back home. – Heather Warfield
What was your favorite food you tried?
Australian food isn’t too incredibly different from American except for seasoning that I noticed. They eat a lot of bland food where as in Texas we eat a lot of spiced food. They do eat a lot more lamb than America does, as they have a large industry for it over there and we don’t. It was pretty tasty when I tried it at multiple restaurants! I think that was a favorite for a lot of the group as well as desserts like Pavlova. I also thought it was different that they have tea and cake at least three times a day!! – Rikki Cisne
My favorite food I tried was actually a herb goat cheese from the Sunhill Dairy Goats. We got to watch them milk the goats and then try some of the cheese and buy some of the soaps they make from it. Kangaroo was a close second! I split a kangaroo burger with Carley Hoffman the first day we were there at a food truck festival in Brisbane. Tastes exactly like fajitas honestly. Vegemite, is awful. – Heather Warfield
What surprised you most about another country’s agricultural production methods and how do they differ from what you’ve been exposed to here?
I enjoyed the industry tours in Australia because they are a self-sufficient country. Their industries provide for their people and then ship out the excess to other countries. I have an appreciation for countries that can stand on their own and not have a whole lot of export problems. Their bio-security is very strict in Australia and this prevents many industry crashes and company economic loss due to stricter methods of growing and handling. – Rikki Cisne
Australia is so much more concerned with the genetic progress of their livestock as well as the traceability of them. They have something called the National Livestock Identification System that they use for identification and traceability of cattle, sheep, and goats. It leans a lot towards biosecurity and food safety concerns and gives them a huge advantage in the global market because of the ability to trace back to exactly where a product originated. We could really learn a lot from the transparency of their agriculture industry. A good portion of the places we visited were open to the public to come tour and see exactly how everything is treated. Also, their show industry is SOOOO different. The kids that compete rarely get money. They’re even lucky if they get a ribbon. Apparently, it’s a huge growing part of the industry and the kids stay really humble. – Heather Warfield
What made you decide to go on this study abroad?
I really wanted to experience another country’s culture and agriculture practices compared to the United States. I like to compare what works in different economies and how industries are larger/smaller in other surrounding countries, as well as how they make their living day to day. I loved being able to visit with large and small producers one on one, and they were all very welcoming, laid back, and happy to answer any questions about their companies. I really felt welcomed as a Texas A&M University student because many places we visited the Australians went out of their way to hang Aggie flags or post signs, and did their research on our culture as well so they could carry on conversations with us. – Rikki Cisne
Tana Luna is a senior Animal Science and Entomology double major from Troy, Texas.
For more information regarding news from the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, please contact Maggie Tucker at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 845-1542.