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David Sparks Ph.d FFA Branding
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Idaho Ag Today
Date: May 21, 2019

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Down in Burley Idaho, every spring there is almost a right of passage. Burley is cow country and cows have to be identified. We all understand that for hundreds of years that identification has come from branding. Future Farmers of America is an organization for, obviously, kids who hope to be in some form of agriculture in the future. The best way to train for that goal is to get hands-on experience and if you are aiming to be a rancher, what better way to train then to be part of a big branding operation which is happening on this very day. Teachers divide the students into responsibilities – vaccines, brands, corralling calves, and carefully holding calves down while the brands and medicines are quickly administered- and give them instructions. These are the basics and sometimes, students will ask if the process hurts the calves – you do hear them moo a little louder as students hold calves down. Instructors say the vaccinations are “not hurting them, it’s helping them.” The calves also get right back up and are soon reunited with their mothers as if nothing happened.


Cattle are the lifeblood of Idaho’s livestock industry and big part of the States Ag economy. While some of of the lesson plan is traditional branding, the rest is state of the art and best management practices. The Idaho Farm Bureau has teamed up with the FFA for years on this special classroom project.


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