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July 23, 2010   Email to Friend 

OYFF/Meat Goat & Sheep: The Dole Family Puts Knowledge To Work
By Melissa Martin

The Doles have more than 50 goats.
Sponsored each year by the Alabama Farmers Federation, the Outstanding Young Farm Family Awards Program recognizes young farmers between the ages of 17 and 35 who do an outstanding job in farm, home and community activities. Division winners representing 10 commodities were selected in February. Of those, six finalists will compete for the title of overall Outstanding Young Farm Family for 2010. The winner, who will be named at the Federation's 89th Annual Meeting in December, will receive a John Deere Gator, courtesy of Alabama Ag Credit, a personal computer package courtesy of ValCom/CCS Wireless, $500 cash from Dodge, use of a new vehicle and other prizes. The winner also will go on to compete at the national level for a new Dodge Ram 3500. This month, Neighbors profiles four commodity division winners. Look for features on the six finalists in the coming months.

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Growing up on a beef and poultry farm, Mike Dole was well-versed in hard work. But when he started his 55-acre meat goat farm in May 2009, he discovered he had more than a thing or two to learn.

"I decided I needed to talk to other farmers about their operations," said Mike who, along with wife Teresa, son Henry (3) and daughters Katie Sue (8) and Evelyn (1), won the Meat Goat and Sheep Division of the 2010 Outstanding Young Farm Family competition. "To have a successfuloperation, you need to know all you can about running a business. Before ever buying my first goat, I studied everything I could."

To enhance his education, Mike completed the Master Meat Goat Herdsman program and attended an artificial insemination class.

As the number of meat goat producers increases in the Southeast, Mike recognizes that marketing will be key to their success. To help achieve his goal, he has attended marketing seminars and is licensed by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and USDA to handle meat and poultry to wholesale and retail stores.

"I want to lead my commodity in the direction for it to grow and prosper in all aspects of the industry," he said.

FARM FACTS
• Long-term plans include adding hair sheep for meat production.

• Dole established a breeding herd of Kiko, Spanish and Boer meat goats.

• Dole plans to expand his pastures to accommodate a marketable herd to help meet the current demand for meat goats.


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