The T&$ 4-H club had an exciting meeting for May. The club, led by Christina Shenk and Kelli Lane, experienced two events on one day. First, members took part in a bull soundness test and then visited a local bison farm.

Like many after the COVID-19 shutdown, the club is trying to get more involved and show the kids what opportunities and learning experiences are available.

The club was invited to the beef farm of Dustin and Lindsey Butler of Knoxville to take part in a bull soundness test. Dr. Katherine Baker of Knox Hill Vet recommended this service for the Butler’s young herd bull. The Butlers have children in the 4-H club and thought it would be a learning experience.

Twelve members, both leaders and their families, turned out on a Saturday for an equipment tutorial and a bull anatomy briefing from Dr. Baker. She explained why it is important to have a soundless test performed on breeding bulls.

Health and weather can play a big role on fertility in a bull. The test would provide crucial information that would help the farmers and beef producers understand their success rate which affects the bottom line.

Members were there through the entire procedure, beginning to end. The helped the veterinarian handle the equipment and looked at specimens under a microscope.

Dr. Baker has been a visitor at past T&E club meetings. She has given presentations and educational talks to members. An open line of communication is crucial between vets and youth with animal projects. More interaction with the veterinarian creates greater comfort and the ability to voice questions and concerns about project animals.

Next, club members traveled to Westfield to the Reigel Bison Farm owned by Jean and Dwylan Reigel. The hosts provided a display of everything from bison horns to pelts and skulls.

Jean Reigel showed how to tell the age of a bison by its horns, talked about the gestation period for the cows and the difference between bison and buffalo.

Dwylan Reigel discussed herd maintenance protocols and routines, pasture rotations, fence securities and nutritional needs of the bison.

After a briefing on human etiquette when near bison, the Reigels took the club into the pasture to get a closer look at the herd. Members helped put out minerals and corn. They even got a chance to see a calf born the night before.

After returning from the pasture, the Reigels gifted members with samples of bison burgers and bologna, along with a customized water bottle with the farm logo.

T&E thanks the Butler family, Dr. Baker and the Reigels for a great experience.

If you or your child would like to get involved with 4-H, call the county extension office at 570-724-9120. For information on the veterinary service, call 814-326-4527. The bison farm can be reached at regelsbisonfarm@yahoo.com.

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