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Livestock Advisor Training offers spring session

Feb 20th, 2014 | Category: Features

10-week course covers variety of animals

The Livestock Advisor Training returns with a 10-week spring session starting Feb. 17. Designed for beginning farmers, as well as experienced farmers wanting to brush up on their knowledge, the training covers a variety of subjects such as poultry, sheep, beef, swine, horse, rabbits, goats, vertebrate pest management, nutrition, water quality, and mud management, to  pasture-based livestock systems, greenhouses and traditional barns. Other areas also taught are fencing, feeding, housing, and breeding.

The program, offered through the WSU Extension, will be held at Stanwood High School and costs $225 per person. A second person from the same farm or family may attend at no charge.

Matt and Jena McIntyre decided to take the training to learn as much as they can about livestock, and to see how feasible raising different species would be on their farm, McIntyre Family Farm in Sedro-Woolley. The couple, formerly of Bellingham, are focusing on pasture raised eggs, poultry and grass fed beef. “We are currently selling eggs year-round and are raising batches of pastured broilers and turkeys seasonally. We are raising a limited amount of beef to sell this fall, but are in the process of expanding our beef operation.”

The McIntyres said the information about best practices helped them in the day to day care of their animals, and also showed them how to grow for the future.

Matt and Jena McIntyre are raising eggs, poultry and beef on their Sedro-Woolley farm. Following the Livestock Advisor Training, they are now starting the Food to Bank On Program through Sustainable Connections, a three-year farmer incubation project that connects beginning farmers with business training, markets and mentorship. COURTESY PHOTO

Matt and Jena McIntyre are raising eggs, poultry and beef on their Sedro-Woolley farm. Following the Livestock Advisor Training, they are now starting the Food to Bank On Program through Sustainable Connections, a three-year farmer incubation project that connects beginning farmers with business training, markets and mentorship. COURTESY PHOTO

“We also want to know that we are giving our animals the best life that we can,” the couple said.  “The livestock advisor training has helped us tremendously because it has allowed us to gain a wide variety of information pertaining to many different types of animals as well as the realities of raising and caring for them in the best ways possible.”

BJ and Karen Martin wanted a simpler, more self-sufficient lifestyle, and took the training to help them learn the facts and make decisions. The course provided a network of contacts, instructors and classmates, and “helped us make wise choices about which livestock would work for our environment,” Martin said. “We’re now producing the vast majority of our food and happy to give back to the community through WSU’s volunteer opportunities.”

Participants are asked to return 50 hours of volunteer time over a two year period, crafting the experience to match their availability and interests. For example, participants can help staffing booths at fairs and events, give talks and demonstrations to groups in the community, write and edit articles for the group’s web page, return phone queries on livestock issues, and make farm visits. During training, participants visit several farms to view best management practices of raising livestock. They also receive a course outline and extension publications.

“I took the training to learn anything,” said Denice Rochelle. “That may sound silly but I’ve always lived urban, never had livestock in any form, never spent a lot of time on a farm, and had no farmers as friends or family, so everything was new to me. This program opened a new world to me and it all happened because I met a Livestock Advisor in the community.”

Whitney Augustson (left) teaches a participant the proper way to halter and lead during the 2012 course. PHOTO BY KATE HALSTEAD

Whitney Augustson (left) teaches a participant the proper way to halter and lead during the 2012 course. PHOTO BY KATE HALSTEAD

That Livestock Advisor was her friend Brian, who lived in Skagit County and previously completed the training. Living in West Seattle at the time, Rochelle traveled for the weekly training and to other counties for volunteer activities.

Rochelle, who now lives in Bow, said the Livestock Advisor Program and the people engaged in the program gave her the courage and confidence to move. Her goals are “to start small and controlled, and raise and care for animals for eggs, fiber, and pleasure,” she said. “We started with building a greenhouse from a class my husband took at the 2013 Country Living Expo. Recently we added four hens, two ducks and a rooster.”

Rochelle feels the training supports individuals in their personal goals, in urban, suburban, and rural communities. “This program, and all the people who keep it going, helps individuals become more self-sufficient… and it’s a ton of fun.”

To download an application, visit http://skagit.wsu.edu. For more information, contact Joan DeVries at (360) 428-4270 ext. 240, or joanrd@co.skagit.wa.us.

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