Student Starts EPEC to Save Herd

Dylan Welch

Amye Gulezian goes cuckoo for cocoa cows and is organizing an E.P.E.C this semester about the herd living at the Hampshire Farm. When asked what makes our cows so special, she said that the Dutch Belted cattle we own (a small portion of only 300 registered in the U.S.) are members of a valuable Heritage breed that can produce both high quality milk and beef from low energy inputs like grass or leaves and even tree bark. She said that Dutch Belted cattle are consistently good breeders and caring mothers.

How did Amye and the cows intersect? Amye chose Hampshire because of our cows and felt devastated after learning from her parents that the farm’s milking operation had ceased only weeks prior to her arrival in the Fall of 2014. Since then, she’s advocated on their behalf in conversations with the current Farm administrators about how to best manage our herd. In the last 3 or 4 years, some of the cows were sold to slaughter – the herd shrank from almost 20 to 8 heifers and 1 steer. Despite this and the reality that our farm does not currently have the proper facilities for milking, Amye believes that the farm could benefit by marketing the cattle’s purebred genetics to Heritage breeders, in addition to being an educational resource for students which strengthens the bond between main campus and the farm.

Now you can spend time at the farm and hang out with the cows for academic credit. Amye shared a breakdown of her interdisciplinary E.P.E.C. which she says will be appropriate for people with little to zero experience with livestock management.

She says: first, you’ll watch the herd from afar and look for signs of heat, then decide as a group which “straw” (ask Amye about this one) might be the best match. You’ll get a chance to consult  with a professional breeder and learn about livestock nutrition and basic veterinary science over the course of a cow’s pregnancy. She plans to incorporate aspects of soil and pasture management into the curriculum as well. Overall, you’ll be working with a group to manage the day-to-day lives of the cattle, while keeping the bigger picture in mind.

Worried about credentials? Don’t, Amye seems rather qualified to facilitate something like this- after all, she is a Hampshire student! She said that her passion for cattle started when she spent a summer away at a Pennsylvania farm and that was 10 years ago. Plus, she’s taking a livestock nutrition course and a pasture management course at Umass this semester, so she will be eager to share her new knowledge with all of you non-livestock management concentrators.

Realistically, it’s best if you hear the rest straight from the horse’s(?) mouth. When it comes to cows, Amye can put hoove and hoove together. In any case, it could be fun to be part of an informal learning group that has “class” outside, right?

Email your questions and/or send your RSVP’s to agu14@hampshire.edu.

Want to learn more about E.P.E.C. or even register your own? Email Matt Carney, our new E.P.E.C. Coordinator, at mjc15@hampshire.edu.

P.S.  Here’s a fun fact: some of the cows were purchased from the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Connecticut. One of the residing nuns named Noella Marcellino, has a doctorate in microbiology and is featured in a PBS documentary called The Cheese Nun. Check it out!

P.P.S. Hampshire is hosting a Livestock Conservancy conference this November!

Photo from Hampshire Farm Facebook Page. Used with a hope for forgiveness. 

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