Goat Farmers Association

Local goat farmers promote
their hobby at annual field day

Speakers, seminars, demonstrations
keep event lively

By Tara Gentile
Contributing Writer

BEDFORD, Ky. (June 2009) – The simple brick building on U.S. Hwy. 42 North on May 9 looked and smelled more like a goat farm than a county extension office. Between milking and hoof-trimming demonstrations, participants were munching on a free lunch of goat cheese and goat barbecue, or entering their names in a door prize drawing for a free “kid” – baby goat, that is.

Sonia McElroy

Photo courtesy of Mike Pyles

Sonia McElroy (standing back right)
watches as children learn to milk a goat
at the Goat Field Day in Bedford, Ky.

The North Central Kentucky Goat Producer’s Association on May 15 held its annual field day at the Trimble County Cooperative Extension Office, drawing more than 40 adults and 15 children. The field day included several educational workshops for those interested in goat farming. Dairy goat owner Jim Graves was on hand for a cheese making demonstration. Kim Field, Program Coordinator for the University of Kentucky’s Agriculture Department, spoke on hay testing procedures. And animal science specialist Dr. Ken Andries, also from the University of Kentucky, spoke on famacha, a method for controlling intestinal parasites in goats and sheep.
“We want to utilize as many resources as possible from the University of Kentucky and their agricultural department,” said the association’s president, Sonia McElroy. “The field day, like most of our association’s events, draws on the resources of individuals that have expertise on topics that have to do with producing healthy goats and sheep on a both a large and small scale.”
Local homestead farmer of two years, Lorna Sterile, demonstrated safe milk handling techniques during the event. Sterile educated participants on the necessity for stringent sanitation procedures.
“The field day was very family friendly,” said Sterile, who brought along her 6-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. “The kids had a great time. They are really involved here at home with the animals. And that’s why we do this. We want them to know how the food system works and the costs and procedures associated with producing your own dairy products.”
The association was originally known as the “Henry County Group,” but four years ago members changed their name and became a non-profit organization. Their goal is to provide education, support and resources for the area’s goat producers of dairy, fiber and meat, said Treasurer Marianne Holmes. Holmes and McElroy are the association’s only officers.
Because there are so many similarities between goats and sheep, the group now includes and invites sheep producers to their events – something they’ve just begun doing in the past year, said McElroy. The group currently has 12 due-paying members, but 62 individuals and families are on their mailing list. These families come from surrounding counties in both southern Indiana and north central Kentucky.
Meetings are held the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. the Trimble County Cooperative Extension Office. There is a $20 membership fee per family, but anyone 18 or under qualifies for a free membership.
“Anyone is welcome. You don’t have to be a member to attend a meeting,” said Holmes. “We have a lot of new people who are interested in goat or sheep producing but would like to know more about it. The meetings are very informative for anyone looking to get involved.”
The association tries to invite an educational speaker to every meeting. There is a relevant, knowledgeable and qualified speaker almost every month, said Holmes. In the past, veterinarians, nutritionists and University of Kentucky professors have participated in goat- and sheep-related lectures.
"It’s very helpful just connecting with other people who have goats and are interested in dairy farming.The networking opportunities are invaluable,” said Sterile.

• For more information about the North Central Kentucky Goat Producer’s Association, contact the Trimble County Cooperative Extension Office at (502) 255-7188.

Back to June 2009 Articles.



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