Every year select Mackay FFA students participate in the breeding livestock project via an interview process by community leaders.
This year’s recipients are Asypn Wasylow, Rylen Wilkie, Austin Wasylow and Kassidy Johnson.
Students work with experts to select a quality animal which is pregnant and will give birth before spring. Students learn about delivery, newborn animal care, husbandry and sire selection.
“Participating in this program improves responsibility,” FFA member Kassidy Johnson said. “Also doing this program has brought me a lot of satisfaction raising a calf from birth to the day that I sold it. This showed me that hard work pays off. When I did this program last year, I learned so much about leadership, reliability, and management.”
Students sign a contract with the FFA chapter to use scientific practices to care for their dams and offspring. They continue to be active in FFA, show their animals at the Custer County Fair, pay 60 percent of the loan back in the first year and must retain possession of the dam for the duration of two years. Students can receive their first animal at the beginning of eighth grade and receive an animal each year until graduation. Over the years, many students have built small herds and sold the animals to pay for their higher education.
The program has helped students learn about finances as they apply what they learn in the agriculture classroom. Since its creation years ago by former agriculture educator Vernon Roche, the program has provided 309 cows, 52 ewes and five sows to Mackay FFA members.