Barren County has one of the highest cattle populations in Kentucky. Purina and Southern States partnered with the agriculture department to conduct the first ever feed study with high school students.
The trial started when Southern States reached out to the agriculture department. Usually, the department buys their own cattle to teach the students about raising livestock, but this year Southern States provided new equipment and cattle for the operation.
Katherine Carrier, livestock production specialist, was sent from Purina to guide the trial. She visited on various dates to check up on the operation.
Carrier and Moore taught the students about record keeping.
“Record keeping is important because of expense and profit,” said Brianna Ridlen, senior. “If you are considering a self-run business, you have to know what you are going to make to keep the business going.”
The students accounted for food intake and overall weight gain to ensure that the cattle remained healthy.
“We had to keep up with certain things so we could make sure all of the cows were getting what they needed,” said Ridlen. “A few weeks ago, one had not eaten for three days, so now we can expect to see a decline in their rate of weight gain.”
Students also inspected the cattle for any ailments or injuries and reported them to Moore. This gave the students a sense of responsibility and taught them about the importance of being reliable.
Carrier became involved with the project because of the team effort being brought to Barren County. She wanted to encourage the students to try something new.
“In grad school, I had the opportunity to teach students. I fell in love with teaching and getting students interested in agriculture,” said Carrier. “This position allows me to work with students to get them excited and informed. What better age to start opening up career opportunities and getting them thinking about college or future jobs?”
Moore allowed students to be hands-on with the cattle. Every individual had their own job from weighing to cleaning stalls. Daylin Posey and Donovan London had a specific task. Every morning, they would come to school early to feed the cattle. All students were encouraged to participate as much as possible.
Organization was another huge component of the study. Before class began, Moore regrouped the students and gave them a daily update on the operation. They would all discuss what needed to be changed when it came to checking on the cattle, feeding, and cleaning stalls. The most common question was asking about going to the barn.
“Every day students ask when we are going to go to the barn. For me personally, I like the hands-on experience,” said Ridlen. “It is a change from sitting in a classroom all day, and I think that’s why students love it. It gives them a new experience”
The feed study is a new concept this year, but there are hopes to continue this opportunity for future classes.