Maryland, Delaware Extension reps finding ways to expand online presence
Limited on how they can interact with poultry growers, Extension agents in the industry have expanded their online presence to continue to be a resource.
Beginning on April 22, poultry Extension agents and specialists in Delaware and Maryland teamed up to hold online “lunch breaks” for Delmarva poultry growers each Wednesday until July 3 from noon to 1 p.m. Growers can register ahead of the weekly meetings at https://umd.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUuduqoqjkpGNDno5ZLyNu-hRao7XHB1jlk.
“We’re just trying to make it available so people know there’s an option just to talk,” said Jonathan Moyle, University of Maryland Extension poultry specialist.
Jenny Rhodes, a University of Maryland Extension principal agent and a poultry farmer, said bringing specialists and agents together with growers made more sense than having separate meetings, but she added growers are also encouraged to contact the agents individually.
“We’re all here to help people, that’s just the basics of it,” Rhodes said.
Discussion at the April 22 and 29 lunch breaks included grain prices, effects of delayed placement and depopulation of chickens on growers, locating proper personal protective equipment and general bird management as companies respond to coronavirus issues.
“It was very broad, which I was glad about,” Rhodes said.
Extension staffers said discussions about managing stress has been part of their outreach.
With so much uncertainty in the poultry and meat industry, and stay-at-home orders in place, the agents have said it’s important growers know they can call an agent to discuss any problem.
“We’re here if there’s a problem,” Moyle said. “We just want people to understand there is help out there and we don’t want them to feel like they’re in isolation.”
Georgie Cartanza, a University of Delaware poultry Extension agent, has taken to social media detailing producing issues in a “Chicken Boot Camp” video series and also much more lighthearted content hoping to raise growers’ spirits and educate other viewers.
With about 32 videos in all, the latter category has included a performance of “Singing in the Rain” in the rain on her poultry farm and chicken-themed parodies of popular songs by Elton John and Bob Marley — complete with costume and voice impressions.
Cartanza said she’s gotten “a lot of great feedback” on both kinds of videos.
“I would have never made that type of connection with so many people in that amount of time,” she said.