It still amazes me sometimes that I am going to be an animal scientist. When I started college, I wanted to be a banker. I started off my education by pursuing a degree in agricultural business, and later added the animal science major because although I grew up on a farm, I wanted to have a better understanding of the whole industry. The dual degree allowed me to take courses as vast as economics and agricultural marketing, to swine production and livestock nutrition. It provided a broad view of the industry.
Now, as I pursue a master’s degree in meat science (formally a master’s in Animal Science), I can use that broad view to focus on specifics. For example, understanding the combination of livestock genetics, nutrition and environment animals are raised in can help us make predictions as to what the characteristics of the meat will be. Will this combination provide a lean product? Will it be high quality (ex. choice vs. prime)? Will this animal produce a good eating experience for our consumers?
The past couple weeks, I have been able to attend two conferences that showcased research being done by animal scientists all over the country. From meat science, to nutrition, to genetics, to reproduction, there is an incredible amount of research going on to help improve livestock production. No matter what discipline the researchers are focused, we all have the same goal: to discover ways to make livestock production more efficient and sustainable, to offer resources to producers to help produce the best product possible, and to improve production methods to best care for the livestock we raise.
When people think of animal science, I am certain there are a lot of mixed reactions. I certainly get an array of responses from people I talk to on airplanes! Animal science is an incredible field and offers a vast array of opportunities. I am so thankful that I made the decision to add animal science courses to my undergraduate degree. I never could have predicted the opportunities it would bring or the direction it would lead, but I am certainly excited to see where it goes!