Potomac State College Ag Students Assist with Kidding
These four West Virginia University/Potomac State College agriculture students gained hands-on experience during this spring’s kidding season on the College farm. Pictured from left are: Jonathan Riggleman, a freshman agriculture technology major, from Valley Head, W.Va.; Kindra Carr, a sophomore agriculture education major, from Bartow, W.Va.; Jacob Dayton, a freshman wildlife resources major, from Jordan Run, W.Va.; and Lainey Smith, a freshman agriculture education major, from Buffalo, W.Va.
While they could have been watching their favorite collegiate basketball games on the sports network or doing laundry or even catching up on their sleep, four agriculture students at Potomac State College (PSC) of West Virginia University (WVU) opted to spend their weekend in a chilly barn helping mama goats deliver their kids.
“It was my best weekend since being in college,” said Kindra Carr, a sophomore agriculture education major, from Bartow, W.Va. “It was neat to see the kids born and within an hour being up and jumping around and drinking.”
Working side-by-side with Carr through this hands-on experience were fellow classmates: Lainey Smith, also an agriculture education major, from Buffalo, W.Va.; Jonathan Riggleman, an agriculture technology major, from Valley Head, W.Va.; and Jacob Dayton, a wildlife resources major, from Jordan Run, W.Va. All three are freshmen.
“It was a busy weekend. It was a lot of hard work but also a lot of fun,” stated Dayton.
First, the students were kept busy rotating the goats as mamas delivered their kids in a common area with heat lamps and then were moved to a pen to feed and bond. As more offspring were born, mama and kids were moved to holding pens.
Then, there’s the issue of complications. “We had to tube a kid,” said Dayton. He explained that this procedure requires inserting a feeding tube down the back of the animal’s esophagus into its stomach. Then, the mama goat is milked for her colostrum, containing antibodies to protect the newborn against disease, which is fed to the kid through a syringe and into the tube.
“I was nervous about the tubing because we have to make sure it’s in the stomach and not the lungs,” stated Carr.
The students also saved two sets of quadruplets by supplementing the kids with bottle feedings and powder supplements.
Additionally, there’s data collection including doe’s and kid’s tag numbers, date of birth, birth weight, bred to which buck, gender, born as a single, twin, triplet, or quadruplet. This data is then provided to Professor Jeff Jones’ microcomputer application in agriculture education class for students to continue collecting data and monitoring the kids’ growth. The information will help determine which females are the fittest to keep to increase the herd and when the kids are ready to be sold to market. The College raises a cross breed between Savannah, Kiko and Boar goats which are sold for meat among many ethnic populations.
All told, the students helped deliver 38 kids over a four-day period, equating to a 200 percent kidding rate because basically, every doe delivers two kids. The students helped exceed the industry standard of 50 percent. Walker says, “There’s also a good chance we’re going to wean at 200 percent come the first of May.”
“I’ve been raising goats since a sophomore in high school; however, we don’t have this many goats at home. Me and a couple local friends just raise five for the fair,” said Smith.
“Our goal is to be more production oriented,” said Andrew Walker, PSC Gustafson Farm Manager and Academic Lab Coordinator. “There’s a big difference between production and hobby oriented.” This fact being the core of Potomac State’s new Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneurship, SAGE, major.
This two-year, associate of applied science degree gives students hands-on experience working the College farms and greenhouse and being involved with crop, livestock, forestry, and other production enterprises. Students will hone their business skills by completing business courses preparing them to own and manage a farming enterprise. A four-year, bachelor of applied science (BAS) degree is in the pipeline and coming soon.
To learn more about Potomac State’s agriculture, forestry, equine, SAGE programs, call 800-262-7332 or visit: PotomacStateCollege.edu