Blount County Dairy Goat Workshop

A success Story for ETP11B: Goat, Sheep and Rabbit Production Systems - U&NNTP
By Robert D. Spencer from Alabama A&M University on 2009-08-16

This dairy goat workshop took place Saturday August 15, 2009 at the Blount County Extension Office. Dairy goats and value-added production has always been a popular venue for the Blount County area and draws a good attendance; today was no different with thirty-two (twenty-six adults, six children) in attendance including speakers and audience.  This event was organized by Robert Spencer (Urban Regional Extension Specialist), Dan Porch (Blount County Extension Coordinator), and Eddie Wheeler (Urban Regional Extension Specialist). While the event did not have a specific theme, the topics addressed were based upon requests from Mr. Porch and local producers.  While initially planning the event Spencer and Porch solicited input from local producers, which became the basis for the day’s agenda. 

Photo 1: Boyd Brady (upper right) speaking to audience on starting a dairy
Boyd Brady (upper right) speaking to audience on starting a dairy

Speakers and topics during the four hour workshop included: (1) Spencer who talked about differences and similarities between dairy and meat goats, (2) Mrs. Sydne Spencer (producer and microbiologist) whose topic was “Criteria for Selecting Dairy Goats”, (3) Mr. Boyd Brady (Extension Associate, Dairy Specialist) whose topic was “Considerations Prior to Starting a Dairy”, and (4) Dr. Maria Leite-Browning (Urban Extension Scientist), whose topic was “Doe’s Mammary Gland: Structure and Healthcare”.  Ms. Merry Buford, District Conservationist, with the local Natural Resources Conservation Service was a special guest invited to share information about the agricultural related programs her agency offers to farmers.  Mr. Eddie Wheeler was moderator for the day.  The lectures accommodated an abundant amount of interaction; this allowed attendees to ask questions relevant to their situation as well as offer ideas that might benefit potential and fellow producers.

Photo 2: Sydne Spencer (left) talking about criteria for selecting a dairy goat
Sydne Spencer (left) talking about criteria for selecting a dairy goat

The audience was comprised of twenty-six people, several husband/wife teams and their children.  Out of this audience eighteen workshop evaluations were completed with some interesting information.  Of those eighteen evaluations completed only eleven farms had goats, seven had no goats.  For those farms with goats the number of head per farm ranged from four to thirty, with the average being thirteen.  Only three farms had experienced problems with Mastitis (addressed in one of the topics), yet the majority felt the information presented on Mastitis would help them reduce the potential for problems and save money on cost of treatment.  Ninety percent felt they had become more knowledgeable and proficient in selecting dairy goats, the same percent said as the result of this workshop they expect to reduce farm expenses and increase revenues.  One hundred percent said they felt the workshop was very beneficial.  Comments regarding the workshop included: “great program”, “very informative”, “this was very beneficial”, and “great cheese!”  Robert Spencer had made sure to bring soft-spread goat cheese for the people to indulge themselves; the samples were from one of the local goat dairies highlighted in a previous success story.

Photo 3: Dr. Maria Browning talking about udder health care
Dr. Maria Browning talking about udder health care

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