The Recorder - Thomas Farm & Dairy in Sunderland receives grant for goat fencing

2022-05-14 11:40:17 By : Mr. Caroline Mao

Young goats at Thomas Farm & Dairy in Sunderland. The farm was one of three to receive a $3,000 grant from the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Agricultural Preservation Foundation and will use the money to put up more fencing to spread out and keep its goat herd healthy. Staff File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

The goats of Thomas Farm & Dairy in Sunderland will soon have a new part of their pasture to explore.

The farm was one of three to recently receive a $3,000 grant from the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Agricultural Preservation Foundation and will use the money to put up more fencing to spread out and keep its goat herd healthy.

“We’re going to put up some fending down closer to our farm stand,” said Laurie Cuevas, co-owner of Thomas Farm & Dairy. “We have a little woodsy, grassy area down there that we haven’t been able to utilize.”

The grant comes from the Massachusetts Farm Bureau’s John and Liolia Schipper Grant program, which is “focused on assisting Massachusetts farmers in becoming more economically viable and sustainable,” according to a press release.

Cuevas explained the new pasture area will give the goats a chance to “browse” different types of shrubs and branches while also preventing the spread of parasites.

She said worm populations increase in small, heavily grazed areas and that this year’s heavy summer rains created an abundance of worms that can be ingested by the goats and adversely affect their health.

“They end up ingesting them accidentally if they don’t have a wide grazing area,” Cuevas said. “Once they get worms, it really affects their health profoundly.”

If a goat has worms, the farm has to carefully choose the medicine to treat them, otherwise their milk can’t be used because it may be contaminated by the medicine.

Cuevas said it becomes a “whole nightmare” if this problem becomes widespread, which is why she is excited to get this grant.

“It helps us manage the pasture better because it gives them more space to roam and have a healthier environment,” she said. “It will be nice for them.”

She expects the fence to be put up sometime in the spring before the year’s baby goats are born. The farm had actually planned to do this project in the past, but other priorities came first.

“There’s always other things that need money first,” Cuevas said. “We want to get it done sooner rather than later. As soon as the baby goats are born in the spring, we don’t have time.”

While the owners of the farm are happy, Cuevas suspects the goats will be just as happy to have a new space near the road and farm stand to roam and relax.

“They love the sun, they like people,” she said. “We’re definitely excited.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.

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