M.R. Goats Featured in the February 2012 IKGA Newsletter
Our farm has been awarded grant money for some of the infrastructure currently in use. When we saw the solicitation for an article regarding grants for farmers from the IKGA Secretary, we decided this was worth sharing. We know that not all of our blog readers are IKGA members or customers who have visited our farm in person so we wanted to make sure you had access to our information in hopes that it may also help you out.
If you are an IKGA member, you can go to the IKGA Forum to view the entire newsletter. (http://www.theikga.org/forum1/index.php) For those of you who are not members, I have copied the article below for your viewing pleasure.
M. R. Goats receives $5,000 grant from AWA
M. R. Goats, owned and operated by Mike & Lorie Renick in Wild & Wonderful West Virginia, received a $5,000 grant from Animal Welfare Approved to provide mobile housing and handling equipment for their Kiko Goat operation.
M.R. Goats is an 80-acre meat goat farm owned and operated by Mike and Lorie Renick inWorthington,West Virginia. The couple raised Kiko goats on pasture, but only had limited fixed structures to use as shelter which reduced the goats’ ability to rotationally graze year round. The Renicks approached AWA about funding mobile housing to allow the goats access to more acreage and forage, thereby improving the animals’ health.
They also requested a portable handling system to decrease handling time and reduce stress to the animals while performing maintenance such as microchips, ear tags, hoof trimming, and FAMACHA checks.
AWA granted $5,000 to M.R. Goats for Port-A-Hut mobile shelters and a working stand and chute for low-stress handling and transport. The Renicks’ goats now have 24/7 access to mobile housing units and are able to access all pastures for rotational grazing. “They are able to come and go as they please,” says Mike. “They are much healthier and have lower stress.”
The couple also purchased a 4’ x 8’ goat cage for transporting the goats both on and off the farm without over-crowding and injury.
Now in its fourth year, the Animal Welfare Approved Good Husbandry Grants program has funded nearly one hundred projects across the country to improve farm animal welfare. Certified farmers and those who have submitted an application for AWA certification may apply for up to $5,000 towards projects such as mobile housing, breeding stock, and on-farm processing equipment. Slaughter plants working with or seeking to work with AWA farmers are also eligible for funding.
The funding priorities for this year’s cycle include improved genetics, increased outdoor access, welfare improvements in the slaughter process and non-lethal predator control. A primary goal of this grant program is to facilitate the growth and success of high-welfare, pasture-based systems. Program Director Andrew Gunther explains: “The biggest challenge in agriculture right now is getting animals outside. The science tells us that when farm animals are responsibly managed on open pasture or range, a whole host of challenges inherent in industrial agriculture simply disappear. For instance, the incidence of pathogenic E. coli is much lower in pasture-based systems, and animals are proven to have higher welfare. This ultimately leads to more nutritious, healthier products.”