Producer-led, multi-topic, hands-on informational seminar to educate youth about sustainable and profitable meat goat production

Project Overview

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2015: $1,000.00
Projected End Date: 02/15/2017
Region: North Central
State: South Dakota
Project Manager:
Doug Pavel
Butte Vista Farm


  • Animals: goats
  • Animal Products: meat


  • Education and Training: youth education

    Proposal abstract:

    Project Abstract
    Through a collaborative effort of regional goat prodcers, professionals in nutrition and veterinary medicine, and Extension Educators, a one-day youth seminar will be held to inform youth about the basics of a sustainable meat goat operation.  The youth will be provided with information about infrastructure needs, nutrition, animal health, eco-friendly animal management, hands-on animal selection and marketing.  The intent is to provide the youth the information they need to enter into the meat goat industry or enhance their existing operations.  This will be followed up with an on-farm tour as as example of these principles being put to use.

    Detailed Project Plan and Timeline
    The Pavel’s, having been in the industry since 2010, have found a limited amount of locally available educational resources to assist producers with how to raise goats. Over the past three years, they and other producers in the area have seen a remarkable increase in the interest and the number of youth involved in the meat goat industry.

    At the South Dakota State Fair three years ago, there were 30 goat exhibitors. In 2013, that number increased to 120. Then in 2014, the numbers multiplied even more. At the local level, the same trend has been observed.

    However, it has also become apparent that only a few youth have the knowledge to be competitive and successful. This generated the idea to hold an educational seminar for prospective youth who want to enter the meat goat industry and/or grow, improve or enhance their current operation to be more sustainable and profitable.

    The guidelines of the South Dakota 4-H program dictate that the youth must have their project animals selected by June 1st of the 4-H year. Many youth begin to choose their animals in early April of the project year. The organizers of this project recognize that the awards for the Youth Educator Grants will not be announced until late March of 2015. However, they feel strongly that a need exists to provide young, prospective goat owners with information helpful to assist them before purchasing their animals for the 2015 project year. Therefore, to avoid last-minute scheduling conflicts, and independent of the anticipation of receiving or not being awarded the grant funds, steps are already being taken to contact professionals to speak and to obtain a local facility for the seminar. Because it is felt the need is vital, should the project not be awarded, the project will still likely move forward.

    A nutritionist from Cenex Harvest States, who is directly involved with a number of goat producers in the Pacific Northwest and is keenly aware of the expanding goat industry and its economic impact, will come to speak on goat nutrition. A local veterinarian who is familiar with the unique needs of goats will be contacted to provide animal health information. Mr. Dave Ollila, the regional Cooperative Extension Small Livestock Educator, who is
    a collaborative partner in this project, will provide information on animal selection and marketing strategies. Ms. Betsy Burtzlaff, the Butte/Lawrence County 4-H Extension Educator, will utilize her multi-faceted contact system (email, website, and regional news letter) to get word of the seminar to her counterparts across the five-state region. Three local goat producers will also assist. One is the Pavel’s, who will speak on basic infrastructure
    needs, fencing and feeding systems. Another, Mr. Doug Hofer, who has been a regional goat show judge for some time and who has attended the American Boer Goat Association (ABGA) judging school, will provide information on animal selection. The third producer, Ms Carolina Noya, who is regularly featured in the Goat Rancher magazine, will speak on holistic pasture management. As a key component of the animal selection topic, a herd of six to eight goats will be provided by the Pavel’s so that the youth can, in a hands-on manner, mingle with them to pick the top four animals much as if they were actually purchasing the animals for their own herd. It is felt that it is vital to give the youth an opportunity to touch and feel the animals instead of just being allowed to visually examine them.

    The proposed seminar schedule is:
    9:00-9:30    Registration
    9:30-10:00    Are Goats Special? (basic needs - shelter, fence, etc.)
    10:00-10:45    Does a Goat Eat Everything? (nutrition - feed, minerals, water etc.)
    10:45-11:00    Break/Questions & Answers
    11:00-11:30    How Do I Keep Them Healthy & Happy? (Animal Health - diseases,  prevention)
    11:30-12:00    How Do I Care for Their Home?
    (Sustainable, eco-friendly pasture management)
    12:00-1:00    Lunch (Provided)
    1:00-2:00    Hands-on Animal Selection (Market vs. breeding stock)
    2:00-2:30    What Can I Do With Them? (Profitable marketing options)
    2:30-3:00    Summary/Survey
    4:00-5:00    Tour of the Pavel’s Farm
    Should weather prevent the scheduled farm tour, youth will be given the opportunity to meet with the producers on a one-on-one or group basis at a later date. The youth will also be given an open invitation to contact, and come for a personal visit with, the producers at any time.

    Resources Used
    As previously mentioned, a group of individuals directly involved in the meat goat industry (veterinarian, nutritionist, goat producers and Cooperative Extension Educators) will work collaboratively to provide the resources necessary to carry out this project. While plans have not been finalized, it is hoped that the seminar will be held at a local livestock sales facility, which in the past has hosted other youth events and has the accommodations necessary for a larger group. If that venue is not available, another similar weather-proof location will be selected. Multi-media equipment will be used for instructional purposes such as PowerPoint
    presentations. Simple, easy to read and understand printed handouts will be made available to the participants.

    Audience participation by means of the youth asking questions and offering answers will be encouraged by the presenters.

    Portions of the training being presented will be done to encourage hands-on participation by the youth. During the animal selection portion of the instruction, with coaching from a producer familiar with the standards evaluated when animals are judged in the show ring and a Cooperative Extension Small Livestock specialist, the youth will have the chance to physically examine a group of goats much as if they were selecting them to purchase for their own herds. The methodology to be discussed will be simple in nature and will not require any specialized equipment or training. For example, when evaluating the body structure of the animals, rather than determining measurements with a tape measure or yardstick, the size of the youth’s hands will be used as a standard unit of measure. The youths will be able to then apply that practice to real life situations when they actually go to a
    producer to purchase their animals.

    At the conclusion of the seminar, a summary of how many attended and what was learned will be written and shared with other youth groups through the mass emailing lists, monthly newsletter and website of the local 4-H Youth Educator. The information will also be posted on the Black Hills Area Meat Goat Producers and Butte Vista Farm Facebook pages. This summary will include the number of youth in attendance, a copy of the agenda, and
    an open invitation to anyone with questions to contact any of the producers or Extension Educators involved.

    The participating youth will be encouraged to stay in touch with the goat producers and Extension Educators as their projects evolve and to not hesitate to contact these individuals should questions or concerns arise. The material presented during this training seminar is thought of as being a part of a series of building blocks that the youth can add to as their project matures. It is anticipated that additional, future training seminars on such topics
    as successfully fitting and showing animals, FAMACHA (a method to evaluate parasite load) and the essential need to keep accurate production records will be held in the near future after this project is completed.

    The producers involved in this project feel strongly about the goat industry and routinely spend time with visitors to their operations to informally share information with anyone interested in gaining knowledge regarding meat goats. These same producers are also part of a larger regional producers group that meets on a quarterly basis.

    It is planned that the results of this project will be shared with the larger group of producers to encourage others to become involved with youth they know and to assist these young producers become part of the growing number of producers in the area.

    Student and Community Impact
    It is believed that by providing this information, the youth of the region who are interested in beginning or growing a meat goat operation will be able, if willing, to help provide a product for an expanding need in this region. The current producers of this area are finding that the need for goat meat and breeding stock cannot, at this time, be met. The information attained through this project is not merely intended to help the youth complete their 4-H or FFA project, or be more successful in the show ring but, to help them begin a real-life sustainable small livestock operation which may provide an income source for years to come.

    There will also be a registration at the beginning to document the number of youth who attended as well as identify which regions of the area have youth interested in expanding the meat goat industry. A survey will be completed by the youth at the end of the seminar to determine what knowledge was gained and to also inquire what topics the youth would like to learn more about. The families of these youth will then be offered the option of becoming part of a network of producers who can work together to raise and market their goats. In this way, these prospective goat producers can get to know other producers in their area who could potentially become mentors. Some of the producers, such as the Pavel’s and Mr. Doug Hofer, already make it a matter of routine practice to assist interested youth get started in the small livestock industry. Unscheduled visits to their farms are numerous. There is power in cooperation among growers. The regional need has been identified and the youth
    have the chance to take their place in the business.

    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.