Tuskegee University Goat Production Training Programs

Final Report for ES12-111

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2012: $71,164.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: Southern
State: Alabama
Principal Investigator:
Olga Bolden-Tiller
Tuskegee University
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Project Information

Abstract:

Goat production has become one of the fastest growing enterprises in the livestock industry, offering new business opportunities for farm families to diversify small farm operations and to explore alternative enterprises and innovative marketing systems to increase their farm income. The Southern U.S. has a competitive advantage on goat production ability due to its favorable climate’s ability to supply forages year-round. However, before this industry can become truly viable, goat producers must be able to produce safe products on a consistent basis to ensure consumer confidence and to be competitive globally. Unfortunately, many agricultural professionals have little to no training in goat production. For more than twenty-five years Tuskegee University has played a leading role in caprine research and serves as a resource for those involved in goat production. The objective of the current proposal was to utilize our longstanding Annual Goat (Field) Day as well as more recent programs, including an Annual Goat Show, an Artificial Insemination Workshop, and a Master Goat Producer Training Program to positively impact the goat industry by providing agricultural professionals with transformative opportunities to move the industry forward by boosting self-confidence among individuals interested in goats and effectively moving these individuals toward positive change that will result in sustainable collaborations, ultimately resulting in increased knowledge of the industry by agricultural professionals and their target audiences. To address this objective, four goat training programs, indicated above, were held at Tuskegee University twice each over a two year period. Overall, the programs resulted in increased knowledge of agricultural professions, mentor farmers and others in the area of goat production.

Project Objectives:

The objective of the current project was to increase the knowledge base of information and resources of agricultural professionals, which we believe in turn, will increase the ability of a larger number of producers who are able to achieve diversification in their agricultural operations through the implementation a comprehensive Goat Production Training Program that consists of four events:  

  • Master Goat Producer’s Certification Training (MGPC) Program, a three-day lecture and hands-on training program that trains attendees on proper goat management from establishing facilities to nutrition and reproductive management and beyond, including enterprise budgets, marketing and more. A pre-program seminar was presented by James Hill (S-SARE) that focused on grants available by S-SARE on the evening before the start of the MGPC program.
  • Artificial Insemination (AI) Workshop, a one-day workshop with lecture and hands-on training on AI in goats.
  • Annual Goat Show preceded by Goat Show Clinics, an opportunity for participants, primarily youth, to show their prize goats.  Agricultural professionals will be trained in goat showmanship and, subsequently, instruct youth groups in the practice of goat showmanship. Youth receiving this subsequent training will be eligible to receive goats from TU and participate in the Annual Goat Show.

Annual Goat Day, a one-day workshop/field day that acquaints attendees with new advances in goat production research.

Introduction:

Goats provide desirable for operations with limited acreage looking to raise livestock and produce fiber, dairy, or meat products. They are easy to manage and less costly to raise than many livestock species.  Settlements from the class action suit against the U. S. tobacco industry resulted in tremendous growth in goat numbers in several of the southeastern states with the greatest increase in goat numbers in TN, GA, KY, and NC (Shurley and Craddock, 2005) and AL catching on and following suit in this growing industry.  This, coupled with the founding of the American Meat Goat Association as well as the American Boer Goat Association in the early 1990s followed by the International Boer Goat Association and the U.S. Boer Goat Association, changed the focus of the U.S. goat industry (Shurley and Craddock, 2005). The expansion in goat numbers can further be attributed to the rapid growth of ethnic (NASS, 2011) and religious (Solaiman, 2007) groups in the U.S. in which goat meat is widely consumed.

Until 2009, meat and other goats (excluding mohair and dairy) had the fastest growth of the three types of goats with no signs of slowing down, growing 3-5 % each year from 2005 to 2008 before starting to decline slightly in 2009 at 1% and another 1% in 2010, which is likely due to the economic downturn and higher input costs. Nonetheless, meat goats make up ~82 % of all goats in the country as of January 2011 and according to the USDA NASS Sheep and Goat Review, overall goat numbers continue to exceed 3,000,000 head, with AL ranking in the Top 10 (NASS, 2011). Though the rapid increase in goat numbers in the U.S. is, the U. S. is still unable to meet the domestic demand for goat meat. In 2006, the U.S. imported more than nearly 25 million lbs of goat meat valued at $41.8 million up 131% from 2003. However, goat meat imports in 2006 were up 329% from 1999; its total value was up 535% from $7,850 million in 1999. The main exporters of goat meat to the U.S. are Australia and New Zealand with 92.5 % of the contribution coming from Australia (Solaiman, 2007). According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, value of sales for the sheep and goat sector of U.S. agriculture increased 30 percent over the sales figure from the 2002 census. During 2007, sales of sheep and goats and their products in the United States totaled $704.9 million. These sales accounted for 0.2 % of all agricultural products sold in the United States during 2007 (NASS, 2011).

            Regardless of the slight decreases in goat numbers in recent years, the U.S. population continues to become more diverse each year; thus, the outlook for continued growth in the goat industry is favorable and will be needed to meet domestic demand (NASS, 2011). And although the goat industry holds great promise for producers with high demand for products and livestock prices unmatched within the history of the industry (Shurley and Craddock, 2005), several factors limit industry expansion and production, including seasonal breeding which leads to an inconsistent year round supply of goat meat, predation and parasitism (Shurley and Craddock, 2005). The integration of animal nutrition and sustainable resource management and its impact on goat health, meat quality and related human health risk factors will play a major role in the future of the goat industry. However, before this industry can become truly viable, goat producers in Alabama and other southeastern states must be able to produce safe, wholesome and reliable agricultural products on a consistent basis to ensure consumer confidence and to be competitive in this global economy. In order to accomplish this goal, goat producers must be properly trained in goat production. Further, because of the ease of management of goats on small and medium family farms, youth have the opportunity to play increasing roles in family goat production operations. There is data to suggest that early involvement, such as livestock shows, in the agricultural animal industry, results in an increase in the number of youth who continue in the industry in later years.

            Extension allows land-grant institutions to “extend” their resources to solve public needs through non-formal, non-credit programs (USDA 2011- http://www.csrees.usda.gov/qlinks/extension.html). As the U. S. goat industry continues to grow, extension programs are critically needed to bring this industry forward, such that the U.S. can meet the demand for chevon domestically and beyond. Tuskegee University (TU) has a strong history of extension with its Cooperative Extension Program formally beginning with the appointment of Thomas Monroe Campbell as the first extension agent in the United States in 1906. Since that time, TU has been at the forefront of service in AL, the U.S. and the world. For over twenty-five years, TU has played a leading role in goat research and acts as a resource for small and minority farmers as well as others involved in goat production. TU has had its success through extension and outreach activities targeting producers and those who work closely with producers at the local, state, and federal levels. Hundreds of individuals have benefited from TU’s efforts through events, such as the Annual Goat Day, which has been held for over two decades as well as newer events, such as The Master Goat Producer’s Certification Program and the Annual Goat Show.

Extension programs are largely administered through thousands of agricultural professionals at the county and regional levels, which bring land-grant expertise to the most local of levels. Thus, agricultural professionals can have a profound impact in moving this industry forward, as research has shown that “training (agricultural professionals) can boost self-confidence among leaders and members; more effectively move groups toward positive change; and inspire and sustain collaborative environments” (Cyr, 2008). Therefore, we believe that if we transform our already successful goat training programs as well as add new ones (AI Workshop) to target agricultural professionals, we will have a more profound impact on the goat industry by “training the trainer,” resulting in increased numbers of meat goats in AL and surrounding southeastern states, positively impacting this promising industry.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Olga Bolden-Tiller

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Objective:
Description:

Methods

There is a growing interest in starting commercial goat operations among landowners, particularly those within the Southeastern U.S. However, it is rare for agricultural professionals, such as cooperative extension livestock specialists, veterinarians, co-op workers, etc., to be able to offer all the specific information to guide clients through this process successfully. In the Southeast, a limited number of training opportunities are consistently available that provide comprehensive information on how to begin and sustain a productive commercial goat operation. TU hosts several programs that provide a measure of training in this area; however, due to costs, a limited number of individuals are able to be served on a consistent basis. Further, the scopes of the programs are limited and have historically targeted the producer. Similar trends are seen with other universities with a focus in goat production. On follow-up evaluation of many of these workshops as well as during discussion panels held in conjunction with said workshops, many producers have asked for more availability of the training afforded by the programs. Further, due to the lack of cohesion between producers in the goat industry, successful co-ops that can produce uniform goats in sufficient numbers remains lacking, which is a major problem if the industry is to move forward. Research indicates that “training (agricultural professionals) can boost self-confidence among leaders and members; more effectively move groups toward positive change; and inspire and sustain collaborative environments” (Cyr, 2008). We hypothesize that increasing the number of agricultural professionals that are well trained in the meat goat industry will result in increased numbers of meat goats in AL and surrounding southeastern states, positively impacting this promising industry. Therefore, the overall objective is to transform the already successful goat training programs from those that “train the producer” to those that “training the trainer” with a specific emphasis on agricultural professionals.

We propose to address this objective via the following specific aims:

Specific Aim 1: Provide agricultural professionals with the knowledge base and resources needed to best assist producers in establishing and sustaining productive goat operations and

Specific Aim 2: provide agricultural professionals insights into the goat industry through research, production management, and outreach perspectives that will assist them in creating an environment for collaboration among producers to move the industry forward.

For Specific Aim 1, we propose that by providing agricultural professionals with the knowledge base and resources needed to best assist producers in establishing and sustaining productive goat operations will result in an increased number of producers who have the knowledge to run a productive goat operation, including those that address the factors limit industry expansion and production, including seasonal breeding which leads to an inconsistent year round supply of goat meat, predation and parasitism through sustainable resource management. This change in attitude toward management is expected to ultimately “excite” producers, such that these individuals will in turn continue to seek reputable information that will have a positive impact on their growing operations.

For Specific Aim 2, we propose that by providing agricultural professionals insights into the goat industry through research, production management, and outreach perspectives that these individuals will be able to work with producers to create an environment for collaboration among producers to move the industry forward. We expect that by providing a sound fountain of knowledge regarding the goat industry, including ideas on management and marketing, that there will be a boost self-confidence among agricultural professional and their clients, which will effectively move these individuals toward positive change (incorporation of “best practices” and identification of niche meat goat markets) that will result in sustainable collaborations, ultimately resulting in increased knowledge of ways to grow the industry.

Materials and Methods

In an effort to continue the tradition of leadership in the goat industry, providing individuals with up-to-date and accurate information on how to raise healthy, productive animals, we propose a series of events, which we term The TU Goat Production Training Programs, that will build upon each other to provide relevant and accurate educational information on goat production, management, and marketing for goat producers. However, instead of targeting producers directly, we will target their trainers, agricultural professionals, who will be used as a conduit to improve the U.S. meat goat industry. The TU Goat Production Training Programs consist of four programs/events (P1-4) that are described below.

 

P1. Annual Goat Day is a 1-day workshop/field day that acquaints attendees with new advances in goat production research. This event will be the first of the four events and will be held in April of each year. The objective of this activity is to present current research findings that impact the goat industry and generate discussion with attendees on how the findings do or can impact the industry.

 

P2. Master Goat Producer’s Certification Training Program has traditionally consisted of a three-day lecture and hands-on program that trains attendees on proper goat management from establishing facilities to nutrition and reproductive management and beyond, including enterprise budgets, marketing and more. For the current proposal, this program will be expanded to a four-day event and include a workshop entitled “Grants for Producers: The Role of the Agricultural Professional,” which is designed to develop linkages between the current proposal as well as future proposals that might be initiated by producers or may be a part of on farm research projects. Further, the final day of the program will include site visits to a minimum of three producer farms. The objective of this is to bring awareness to the agricultural professional about the needs of the goat producers using three very different farms in terms of stock, economic status, and experience in the goat industry.

 

P3: Artificial Insemination (AI) Workshop is a 1-day workshop with lecture and hands-on training on AI in goats. This event is primarily geared to give the agricultural professional training in this technique, such that he/she can become knowledgeable about the pros and cons of this technique in the goat industry and be able to provide assistance and training to his/her clients who might be interested in this procedure. Unlike in the cattle industry, this technique though increasing in its use in the goat industry, is not very widespread and many agricultural professionals and producers are not proficient enough for it to benefit the goat industry to date.

 

P4: Annual Goat Show, an opportunity for participants, primarily youth to show their prize goats. The agricultural professionals will not necessary be directly involved in the goat show itself, but will be trained on how to deliver Goat Show Clinics that will be used to train youth in goat showmanship and judging. The objective of this activity is to demonstrate how youth activities can be used to move an industry forward. This event will increase youth involvement in the goat industry, as there is data to suggest that early involvement, such as livestock shows, in the agricultural animal industry, results in an increase in the number of youth who continue in the industry in later years. Thus, we expect to see this with the goats, resulting in a continued interested of the youth in the goat industry in years to come. After completing at least one Goat Show Clinic, youth will be eligible to receive subsequent training and will be eligible to receive goats from TU and participate in the Annual Goat Show.

Outreach and Publications

At the end of the funding cycle, no publications had been authored beyond university research reports for the TU Caprine Research and Education Unit; however, plans to create technical papers on several key areas of interest and deficiency for persons working in the goat industry (as evidenced by pre- and post-test scores as well as output from round table discussions) are underway as is the creation of a TU website – Caprine Corner – that will be used a resource for goat industry stakeholders.  Further, as an opportunity for additional youth outreach, an activity sheet on Meat Goats was created by Olga Bolden-Tiller and is currently being used during goat events that involve youth. 

Outcomes and impacts:

During the two year duration of this project, four training programs were held. The impacts for the Master Goat Producer Certification Training (MGPC) Program as well as the AI Workshop were primarily determined based on pre- and post-test scoring, which indicated gains in knowledge related to the goat industry and goat production and that participants found the presentations to be of quality and value and the presenters knowledgeable with adequate materials, and they would recommend the program to others. An increase in post-test scores compared to pre-test scores, indicated that producers acquired knowledge that could result in improved herd management, providing producers with valuable information necessary for goat producers to become competitive in this global economy. For the AI Workshop, the eighteen participants respondents indicated that the presentation and hands-on activities were of quality and value and provided the necessary materials (average 4.6+./5.0); and that they would recommend the program to others. The majority of the respondents also indicated that this was the first AI training that they had received and by its conclusion they had a better understanding of the artificial insemination techniques and its benefits. The Goat Show and Clinics resulted in an increase in the number of minority youth participating in such events in the state of Alabama as well as an increase in the number of individuals available to train youth on three areas of livestock judging, including Showmanship, Market Class and Breed Class. Agricultural professionals who had not previously supported goat shows in their area of the state, subsequently completed clinics in their target areas and a number of the youth taking part in those clinics in turn participated in the 2013 Goat Show. The Tuskegee University Goat Day continued to serve as the flagship technology transfer event for goat producers in the state of Alabama and beyond, emphasizing quality of the advanced presentation of information on the goat industry presented. For all programs, many participants had incorporated a number of the practices emphasized during the program into their management systems or teaching of said systems, as evidenced by evaluations of operations during visits to producer’s operations when compared with operational information received from participants in advance of the training programs. The interest in improved management was further accentuated by the attendance of participants to the pre-program grants workshop that preceded the MGPC program, indicating individuals’ interest in acquiring knowledge about and skills in acquiring funding to improve operations and management. It was also noted that additional information was requested by participants regarding additional TU goat programs and that several of the participants attended subsequent events while bringing along others to the events, serving as an additional indicator that the training the trainer had great impacts beyond the individual program participants.

 

Prior to the implementation of the current proposal, the goat activities at TU, such as the Annual Goat Day, MGPC Program and Annual Goat Show, had primarily been tailored to provide educational opportunities for goat producers. The current proposal afforded the opportunity to expand and transform programmatic activities, making them more attractive and beneficial to agricultural professionals by using more technical instructional methods and better emphasizes and addressing issues associated with the goat industry. Although the increase in knowledge of the goat industry by agricultural professions and their target audiences was realized, it was also anticipated that AL would see increased goat numbers; however, during the course of the project goat numbers in the state reduced substantially from 53,500 in 2012 to 43,000 in 2013, substantially more than most states, which the exception of Arkansas (53,000 to 52,000 between 2012 and 2013) according to NASS (2013) although there was a trend overall for a decrease in goat numbers for most states from 2012 to 2013.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

Prior to the implementation of the current proposal, the goat activities at TU, such as the Annual Goat Day, MGPC Program and Annual Goat Show, had primarily been tailored to provide educational opportunities for goat producers. The current proposal afforded the opportunity to expand and transform programmatic activities, making them more attractive and beneficial to agricultural professionals by using more technical instructional methods and better emphasizes and addressing issues associated with the goat industry.

Recommendations:

Potential Contributions

At the end of the funding cycle, no publications had been authored beyond university research reports for the TU Caprine Research and Education Unit; however, plans to create technical papers on several key areas of interest and deficiency for persons working in the goat industry (as evidenced by pre- and post-test scores as well as output from round table discussions) are underway as is the creation of a TU website – Caprine Corner – that will be used a resource for goat industry stakeholders.  Further, as an opportunity for additional youth outreach, an activity sheet on Meat Goats was created by Olga Bolden-Tiller and is currently being used during goat events that involve youth. 

Future Recommendations

Additional programming to continue to disseminate technical information related to the goat industry to agricultural professions on a consistent basis is still needed, as the results of the current project indicate, the opportunities for agricultural professions and mentor farmers to receive training and subsequently form initial collaborations was of benefit. Because of the short duration of the current project, additional opportunity to explore the facets and positive ramifications of the teams are ideal, the “team” approach may help facilitate the integration of the new or alternate ideas put forth by the agricultural professional/mentor farmer more rapidly that may result in moving the goat industry forward at an increased pace.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.