Students learn about caring for and breeding goats

STUDENTS IN THE Hannaford Career Center Sustainable Agriculture program and in the FFA are raising a herd of Boer goats this year. Shown at Deep Roots Farm are, from left, Willie, Jolene, Merle, Waylon and Dolly. The males were raised for meat and sent for slaughter last week.

MIDDLEBURY — We have had a busy year so far in Sustainable Agriculture. Last spring our class purchased five Boer goats, three males and two females. The males were raised for meat, and sent off to be processed last week, on Feb. 17.

We bred one of the females, Jolene, in the fall, and are excitedly awaiting the arrival of her kid in March!

A MIDDLEBURY FFA member holds Jolene, a Boer goat, steady while other student trims her nails. Jolene is due to give birth to a kid in March.

The whole class takes a field trip out to the Hannaford Career Center farm, Deep Roots Farm, every other school day to take care of the goats together; students volunteer to take care of the animals themselves on the other days. We also have 21 laying hens at the farm, and we sell the eggs right from our classroom, and are hoping to expand to sell out of local shops as well.

Our first unit of the year was Animal Behavior, which included lots of time spent observing our own animals, as well as field trips to a few local dairy farms, and studying animal handling techniques by Temple Grandin. Then we moved on to our Beef unit, where we learned how beef is produced, and had a panel discussion with three local Addison County beef producers to learn about their specific production methods.

DOLLY, A BOER goat being raised by FFA chapter members and Hannaford Career Center Sustainable Ag students, cuddles while her human handlers give her nails a little pedicure.

Currently we are in our Dairy Cattle Judging unit. We are learning how to judge dairy cattle, and hoping to put together a team for the Vermont FFA State Convention competition in May.

We have also begun preparing our greenhouse, the Garden Patch, for the season. We will be open to the public in May with lots of hanging baskets, perennials, annuals, vegetables, and herbs for sale. For people unable to shop during school hours, for the second year, our plants will be available at Aubuchon Hardware in Middlebury, too.

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