Ag News

UGA livestock leader committed to preparing students to farm

Dr. Francis Fluharty, who began leading the UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences Animal and Dairy Science Department a year ago, has a vision for engaging students in livestock production. That’s why Fluharty wants to improve the internship and off-campus work study program for animal science students to prepare them for careers in production agriculture.

“I want to see students seeing production agriculture up close,” Fluharty said. “Today’s students are really bright, but the flip side is very few have grown up on a farm. We are expected to train these students, many coming from suburban backgrounds, on what we do and why.”

Fluharty shared his goals for the CAES livestock program with Georgia pork producers while speaking at the annual meeting of the Georgia Pork Producers Association held in Macon, Feb. 19.

He also said the department is looking ahead to address issues threatening the survival of animal agriculture. He said the animal science department plans to hire an animal welfare specialist to help Georgia’s livestock sector raise animals with best practices and bridge the gap to help consumers understand farmers are properly caring for their animals.

Fluharty said he wants to strengthen the CAES meats and livestock judging teams to increase students’ ability to make decisions and defend them. He said the department will soon be hiring a meat scientist who will help with the team.

He also said he’s committed to helping students graduate with undergraduate degrees in four years and encouraged producers to contact him if they know of a student interested in attending CAES.

“We’ve got to get kids in school and pursuing careers in production agriculture,” Fluharty said. “I think if we can start talking to these kids when they’re 13 to 14 by the time they graduate high school they know us [UGA livestock faculty]. If y’all know young people in your town who are interested in pursuing an ag degree give me a call and we’ll work to get them to Athens to take a tour of our campus and to see our livestock programs.”

Fluharty may be reached at or 706-542-6259.

Dr. Mike Azain, from the CAES Animal & Dairy Science Department, discussed research projects the college is doing centered on swine nutrition science. Azain said his colleague, Dr. Robert Dove, is studying the effect different rates of manganese have on the growth rate of nursery pigs. The studying is showing that piglets feed a higher rate of manganese had a slight growth advantage over those fed half as much or none at all.

Azain is looking at the effect feeding nursery pigs the enzyme Protease can have on the pigs’ growth rate. He said baby pigs can usually only digest 78-84 percent of their diets. Initial study results indicate adding protease to the diet improves diet digestibility 4-6 percent, which would allow producers to feed a lower protein diet and cut production costs.