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"Experientia docet" - Experience is the best teacher

Retha Annette Engels from Stellenbosch University is another recipient of the South African Society of Animal Science (SASAS) Student Postgraduate Merit Awards for exceptional academic achievement in Animal Science during their undergraduate studies at any South African university. She is currently enrolled for an MSc degree in Animal Science and gladly shares her journey to excellence with us.

How it all began

Retha was born and raised in Saldanha in the Western Cape. After completing high school she registered with Stellenbosch University. Retha describes her first year as one that was rather eventful because she first enrolled for a BSc in Human Life Sciences with Psychology, which she later realised was not her passion, throughout the year she developed new friendships, hobbies and ultimately changed her degree to peruse her passion for Animal Science.

She is more than her struggles
Having found her passion in Animal Science, Retha resolved to working hard in pursuit of her dreams, however the obstacles to her success were not over. In the second year of her studies she contracted mumps which permanently damaged her hearing. “It was much more challenging than I expected”, she says, “but I learned that even when you think you might fail, you can achieve much more than you ever thought you could if you refuse to give up”.

Who or what has been your source of inspiration throughout your academic journey
My father, Louis Engels, has been my source of inspiration, motivation and support throughout my entire academic journey. His patience and unwavering support throughout the years inspired me to work as hard as I could to make the most of the opportunity that he himself worked so hard to give me. Our shared hobby of competition shooting, hunting and my love for wildlife and animals made my future career choice an easy decision.

What does this award mean to you?
This award is a great honour to me, and will provide a means to further my education and achieve my future career goals.  Additionally, this award shows the world that you shouldn’t give up on someone that has a disability. Whether it is hearing loss (like mine), deafness, blindness, anything, it does not matter, because people with disabilities are still able to overcome all obstacles to achieve their dreams. This award gives more than recognition for hard work; it gives hope to students that, like me, once thought that one challenge may be too much to overcome, but by refusing to give up, overcame that very challenge.

Destined for greatness
Retha envisions herself utilising the knowledge and skills gained through her postgraduate studies to make a difference in the game industry, where she would love to make a particular impact on wildlife and the expansion of the game meat industry.

By Siphokazi Nyeleka


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This study was conducted to determine the effects of feeding diets with fermented whole crop wheat (FWW) and fermented whole crop barley (FWB) on growth performance, nutrient digestibility, blood constituents, faecal volatile fatty acid (VFA) emission and faecal microbiota in growing pigs. A total of 200 growing pigs were randomly allotted to five treatments with eight replicates per treatment and five pigs per replicate. Dietary treatments consisted of i) CON (basal diet), ii) 0.5% FWW (CON + 0.5% fermented whole crop wheat), iii) 1.0% FWW (CON + 1.0% fermented whole crop wheat), iv) 0.5% FWB (CON + 0.5% fermented whole crop barley), and v) 1.0% FWB (CON + 1.0% fermented whole crop barley). The digestibility of total dietary fibre was significantly higher in pigs fed FWW diets. The faecal emissions of VFA of pigs fed the fermented treatments was increased significantly compared with CON. Concentrations of cortisol and triglyceride in blood of pigs fed 1.0% FWW were significantly lower than pigs fed CON diets. The pigs fed 1.0% FWB diets had a significantly decreased level of total cholesterol in blood compared with CON. In conclusion, the current results indicated that diets supplemented with FWW and FWB could increase faecal VFA emission and reduce concentration of triglyceride and cortisol, while 0.5% and 1.0% FWW had no negative effects on growth performance, and could increase digestibility of dietary fibre in growing pigs.

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