Spring arrives early at Hydebank Wood

Ricky Graham, Vocational Training Officer at Hydebank Wood College and part-time farmer, watched over them as they helped deliver seven Saanen-crossed pygmy kid goats. Picture: Michael Cooper
Ricky Graham, Vocational Training Officer at Hydebank Wood College and part-time farmer, watched over them as they helped deliver seven Saanen-crossed pygmy kid goats. Picture: Michael Cooper

Spring arrived early at Hydebank Wood College this week with the birth of seven kid goats.

The Saanen-crossed pygmy kids were delivered by two students who have been learning about animal husbandry as part of their rehabilitation. Goats were introduced to Hydebank Wood College two years ago as part of an animal therapy initiative for students.

Ricky Graham, Vocational Training Officer at Hydebank and part-time farmer, has been working with the students, teaching them basic husbandry skills and watched over them during birthing of the kid goats.

“These two young men had never worked with farm animals before, but I’ve been teaching them basic animal husbandry,” he explained.

“So, when it came to birthing the kid goats, they knew exactly what they were doing. They’re now bottle-feeding the kids and caring for their mothers. It’s just been incredible to watch these two young men working with animals and I know it has really boosted their self-confidence.”

Michele McElnea, Business Development Officer at Hydebank Wood College, said: “The therapeutic value of looking after and caring for animals is widely recognised and initiatives like this are helping us to support the young men in our care, challenging them to change, and helping to build a safer community in Northern Ireland.

“We’ve provided these two young men with an opportunity to develop new skills. They’re now working towards a qualification in animal husbandry and keen to pursue careers in this field once they leave the college, which is a very positive example of the work being done by the Northern Ireland Prison Service.”