Since burning down during the fall 2018 semester, the SFA Beef Center, which was a part of the Todd Agricultural Research Center has not been rebuilt to the dismay of some animal science majors.
The building was used to conduct labs with the cattle and provide hands-on experience to students who may not have had as much experience with cattle farming. The loss of the building has led to the students having to do their labs under a carport with temporary pens for the cattle. Maley Green, a junior animal science major from Henderson, created a petition to get the building rebuilt. The petition currently has over 1,000 signatures.
“It was last November when the beef farm burnt down,” Green said. “It affected me because I’m still taking my beef science classes, like right now I am in advanced beef classes. We do a lot of hands-on stuff at the farm.
With us not having a barn, we are limited on what we can do. When we do something, it has to be a few people because there is not that much room.”
The students began working together to get the Center rebuilt on the 490 acres of land that also house the poultry barn and the swine barn. The poultry and swine spaces are both currently being used to house the beef cattle labs before the building is rebuilt.
While the lectures and lessons given by the professors are enough to help the students understand the material, without the Beef Center, students say they are unable to get proper hands-on experience as they did inside of the building.
“In the labs, we really got to work hands-on with cattle, instead of just flipping through PowerPoints. We tagged them, dewormed them, weighed them,” Matthew Lowery, senior agricultural business major from Douglass, said. “Right now, they are having pens in the rain. It wasn’t the nicest and best facility in the state but served its purpose, was very functional and worked well.”
Without the Beef Center, students find it difficult to take care of their cattle properly, making it difficult to check the weight of or provide the animals with the proper medication.
Currently, the students have to use temporary shoots to take care of their animals. Without a proper office, the important farm records used to keep track of all the animals are not easy to track.
Because the Center has not been rebuilt, some animal science majors feel they are being put at a disadvantage for their learning opportunities.
“[It is important because of] the hands-on experience, and it is another step in education,” Green said. “We sit in class, and we can talk all day long about AI (artificial insemination) and proper cattle handling methods. Then, we get to go out to the barn for lab and put everything we are learning to use. We can talk about it all we want. But, once you actually go out and experience it, that’s how I learn best is by experience. So, that is what we’re doing the best we can in the carport.”
The majors say they are not expecting to have a perfect building but do want their old facility replaced.
The Beef Center was not only used to hold labs and take care of the cattle but also to host high school events and provide service to local businesses. Additionally, it hosted the Purple Premium Cattle Sale, which is planned and hosted by SFA beef cattle students and helps the SFA Ag department fund its programs.
Dr. Erin Brown, assistant professor of animal science and faculty supervisor for the Beef Center, declined a request for an interview.