Animal health on the farm
In Australia, agriculture is a major contributor to our gross domestic product and export market, with production animals making a significant contribution to the agricultural industry.
For those who want a career in animal health, the University of Melbourne has just launched a new degree major within the Bachelor of Agriculture.
In a world with an increasing focus on food security, the role of agriculture is vital, says Professor Ken Hinchcliff, Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science.
“In recognising that animal health and wellbeing is key to ensuring productivity of animal-based agriculture, the Faculty of Veterinary Science is very pleased to partner with the Melbourne School of Land and Environment (MSLE) to offer a new degree major in animal health,” Professor Hinchcliff says.
The new major, ‘Production Animal Health’, is designed to provide an undergraduate program tailored to students wishing to pursue careers in animal health and production.
The key subject thread presented in the major will be ‘Animal Health in Production Systems’. Over the three years of the major, students will be provided with a cohesive, staged presentation of the integrated factors that determine animal health and productivity.
Graduates with a strong grounding in agricultural production, with an emphasis on animal health, will be very strong candidates for employment across a wide range of careers in the industry.
While the emphasis of the major is to prepare graduates for a career in animal agriculture, it also provides an alternative pathway for consideration for entry into the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program. Students who successfully complete the 3-year Bachelor of Agriculture course (with a major in Production Animal Health) will be eligible to apply for a place in the first year of the 4-year DVM course. The focus of their undergraduate program will mean that, if they are successful in gaining entry to the DVM, they will receive some credit for production animal topics early on in the curriculum.
Students with an undergraduate degree – a Bachelor of Agriculture (majoring in Production Animal Health) and a graduate DVM – would also be extremely valuable contributors to the rural veterinary sector.
The Master of Animal Science is another pathway available to students with a Production Animal Health major. This program teaches students how to support and enhance the integral roles that animals play in sustaining our lives, with practical applications in careers in animal conservation and care, to recreation, sport and biological research.
Dr Jane Owens, Lecturer in Production Animal Health from the Faculty of Veterinary Science, is involved in the development of the major and says that she is very excited about the program’s launch.
“I am very pleased to have the opportunity to be involved with this new major and I think it will be a valuable addition to the course offerings for students interested in animal health.
“The demand for places in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine is very high, but it is not just veterinarians who are important contributors to production animal industries.
“I personally believe the move towards the ‘One Medicine, One Health’ concept is very important. We need to produce graduates with a range of expertise, who can contribute not only to the health, welfare and productivity of animals, but have an integral understanding of the interrelationship between animal and human health.”
Professor Andrew Fisher, Chair in Cattle and Sheep Production Medicine in the Faculty of Veterinary Science, says the new major recognises the increasing need for people with knowledge of animal health and welfare across the agricultural sector.
“We expect our graduates from this program to be very competitive in fulfilling roles in animal health companies, in farm consultancy, and in government policy and biosecurity positions.
“The major represents an opportunity to combine a strong skills base in animal production and management with detailed knowledge of animal health.”
The Bachelor of Agriculture is run by MSLE, a very diverse faculty, with expertise across a wide range of disciplines. The School offers an interdisciplinary approach to education, developing graduates ready to contribute to a sustainable future. The major will be integrated into the Bachelor of Agriculture. This allows MSLE and the Faculty of Veterinary Science to combine their teaching expertise and skills to provide a new and innovative program for students with an interest in animal health, welfare and productivity.
The new major is expected to commence in first semester 2013.