Berry Breeding Program

Overview

Among Berry's vast 26,000 acres, there are many animal science programs like the beef unit, dairy unit, sheep barn and the horse barn. There are many activities that go on at each facility. Each unit is ran by the unique student work program at Berry, which allows students to get maximum hands on experience in management, skills and animal care. In addition, each unit not only produces animal by products for sale, but are used by the animal science program for labs. The Gunby Equine Center is no exception. Dr. Wilson's Horse system class has a breeding program lab from the horse systems class at the horse barn. The breeding program is assisted by directed studies and Dr. Wilson's class. The class not only teaches the biology aspect of equine breeding systems, but allows the class to dive into the many management areas of the equine industry. But the breeding aspect of the industry is a main focus of the class and it allows students to perform real breeding experiments with Berry's brood mares.

Horse system class and lab

The horse system class covers a wide range of entities within the horse industry from genetics and breeding to the neurological and biological systems of the equine species. Each topic discussed is covered in elicit detail because it is a junior level class and because of the severity and sensitivity of the breeding program. Breeding in the equine business is a much more fragile entity than that of the beef or swine industry due to sensitivity of the equine reproductive tract.
This class is unique at Berry College because of the rare hands on experience that is available through the directed studies. The directed studies requires students to be fully responsible for the actual breeding process of the mare. They are also required for the upkeep of the stud. The current stud at Berry College is, Tarzan. Students will monitor live cover breeding attempts until the brood mare is successfully impregnated. In some cases, when artificial insemination is needed, students are required to help monitor the process. The full process includes: monitoring the mares estrus cycle, teasing her to make her available for breeding, the actual breeding process, and monitoring both the mare's and foal's health throughout gestation, or pregnancy. About 10 days prior to the trimester students will take blood calcium test on her milk to determine if she is ready for foal watch. Once her milk reaches 250 ppm (parts per million) of calcium consistently the students sign up for foal watch and take shifts watching the mare throughout the night. Students are responsible for contacting Kevin, the barn manager once the mare is showing signs of giving birth. Once the baby is born the students write a report and turn it in as a lab report.

References

Ellis, Kevin. Barn Manager. Personal Interview, April19 2013.
Gunby Equine Center. Mount Berry: Berry College. Print.
Howlett, Marvin. Personal Interview, April19 2013.
Smith, Andrea. Personal Interview, April 29 2013.