Video: Students at Hydebank young offenders' centre help deliver seven baby goats
STUDENTS at a young offenders' centre have helped deliver seven pygmy kid goats as part of an animal therapy project.
Spring sprung early at Hydebank Wood College in south Belfast earlier week with the birth of the Saanen-crossed pygmy kids.
The goats were delivered by two students who have been learning about animal husbandry as part of their rehabilitation.
Goats were introduced to the college two years ago as part of an animal therapy initiative.
Students enrolled on the project also help look after sheep. Last year, pet lambs reared from prize-winning sheep at the centre were donated to a charity which provides animal therapy for children with autism and life-limiting illnesses.
The lambs, named Lucy and Charley, were born in March and were handed over by the Northern Ireland Prison Service to the Kids Pony Foundation at Drennan Road in Lisburn.
Ricky Graham, vocational training officer at Hydebank and a part-time farmer, has been teaching the students basic husbandry skills.
He 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 said.
"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 the college, said caring for animals was therapeutic for the young men.
"We’ve provided these two young men with an opportunity to develop new skills," she said.
"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."