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Dairy adventures in New Zealand: Settling in

Hannah Wentworth Published on 08 March 2012

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Editor's note: Penn State dairy student Hannah Wentworth will be providing monthly updates through the Progressive Dairyman Extra e-newsletter about her study abroad experience in New Zealand this spring.

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Check back next month for a new column, or visit her blog at www.pafarmgirladventures.blogspot.com.

Classes are underway at Lincoln University. I am excited to be taking:
• Dairy Science: The New Zealand dairy industry!
• Plant Production Systems: Pastures on different New Zealand farms with field trips to sheep, dairy, deer and cropping operations
• Microbiology: As it relates to food

I love learning about the New Zealand dairy industry. It is intriguing with its differences compared to the U.S.

Everything is centralized around seasonal grazing. Milk production is predominantly measured in milk solids per cow and per hectare. It gets confusing being in the southern hemisphere: their seasons are opposite, and they use the metric system.

Some fun facts about New Zealand’s dairy industry: 95 percent of their milk production is exported. They produce 4 percent of the world’s milk, and the average herd size is 386 cows.

I am the only American in my dairy science class of about 60 kiwis (New Zealanders). In our first lab, we visited the Lincoln University Research Dairy Farm. It was unreal standing in a lush pasture surrounded by Kiwis with cows grazing and a beautiful mountain range in the distance.

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We discussed some current research; one study is comparing high and low stocking rates in grazing paddocks, the affect on milk production, pasture quality and the environmental footprint.

Another thing that happened during the first week of classes was that I experienced my first earthquake! This occurred on Thursday, March 1, a little after 8 a.m. I was in my room when all of a sudden there was a large rumble and a shake that lasted for only a second. It was a magnitude of 4.21.

It felt like a huge tractor trailer truck drove right past my widow. My window rattled, and my bed shook. It startled me at first, but it was kind of cool. I had wondered if I would experience an earthquake and now I have.

I am so thankful to be here, but the time is flying by. I look forward to learning more in my classes, continuing to meet amazing people and having weekend adventures all over this remarkable country. Stay tuned for more tales of a PA Dairy Farmgirl studying abroad in New Zealand! PD

PHOTO: Cattle grazing outside of Lincoln University. Photo by Hannah Wentworth.

Hannah Wentworth
Student, Penn State University

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