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Guests meet rotating goats

October 03, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

KEEDYSVILLE - Jeanne Dietz-Band hosted a group of 10 agricultural engineers from Turkey at her Keedysville goat farm Monday afternoon.

The group, which was visiting through a program with the University of Maryland, was at the end of a three-week tour of farming operations across Maryland, said Darlene Adams, program development specialist with the university.

The visitors are workers contracted by the Turkish government who were hoping to learn U.S. farming techniques that might be useful in their country, said Deniz Sevgili Oa, a translator working with HasNA Inc. The company helped coordinate the trip with the University of Maryland.

She said the group took conflict-resolution courses for several days, followed by job training in farming.

Dietz-Band took the group around her farm, which includes about 40 acres and 150 goats. She has mostly Kiko and Boer breeds on her farm, which are sold for meat.

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She said there is a growing market for goat meat in the United States. Susan Schoenian, area agent for the Maryland Cooperative Extension, said it is the fastest-growing farm enterprise in the country.

Several people touring the farm Monday said they were interested in the way Dietz-Band rotates her goats among about 12 grazing fields.

"I rotate every day," she said. "That's very unusual."

Sezer Gran, 27, of southeastern Turkey, said through an interpreter that she had been to one of about every type of farm during her nearly three weeks in Maryland. Her favorite was a fruit and vegetable farm that had a stand on-site where neighbors could buy produce.

At Dietz-Band's goat farm, Gran said she learned how to protect the animals from parasites by using Dietz-Band's method of rotating the animals.

Because the goats usually like to eat only the first few inches of grass, by rotating them to different fields daily, they rarely get to the base of the grass, where most parasites are, she said.

Suleyman Tuzun, 31, said through an interpreter that goat farming is very different in Turkey. They let the animals graze in one large field and do not rotate them.

"They graze in a much larger area and just let them roam where they want," Tuzun said.

Dietz-Band said one of her visitors' favorite parts of her farm was the younger goats she raised on a bottle.

"They lost their mom when they were first born," she said of the goats. "They really liked those goats because they were so friendly. I think every one of them had their pictures taken with those goats."

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