My life has been intertwined with animals & nature for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I lived in the country, but not on a farm. As a child, who was an lover of animals, I had all the typical childhood pets; hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs, and a few atypical pets (mostly ones I caught in the woods behind by house) such as snakes, turtles, salamanders, etc. I worked at a dog/cat boarding kennel during high school and a pet store while in college. I graduated with a degree in Animal Science/Pre-Vet Medicine and worked as a Vet Tech while I took courses to become certified as a Biology teacher. I taught 10th grade Biology until I had my first child, then became a full time mom. I now have three children and work part time teaching Animal Science at a local community college and and am the Outdoor Education Coordinator at Chestnut Ridge Camp & Retreat Center.
Philosophy: I take the responsibility of owning and breeding goats very seriously. Bringing life onto the Earth be it children or animals is a big responsibility. My goal as a parent is to raise children that grow up to be healthy, happy, and contribute something positive to the world. My goals as a breeder of goats are exactly the same.
I’m not here to mass produce goats. I have a relatively small herd trying to keep my numbers to under 20 goats. Why? First, I don’t want to be too taxing on my land; it is too beautiful to ruin. Second, I value my time and need to make sure I have time to spend with my family. Third, I want to make sure that each goats gets it’s own special “people” time. Fourth, less goats equals less food to pay for, less nanny berries to clean-up and less stress on the goats that live here.
I do not breed for color (coat or eye) nor for teeny-tiny stature. I breed toward the standards set forth by AGS and ADGA. Goats that possess the qualities selected by these organizations prove to be hardier and more productive over the course of their lives.
I have carefully chosen my foundation stock from bloodlines that have proven themselves in confirmation and milk production. That being said sometimes you can cross the best genetics and produce animals that are far from meeting the standard. Hopefully, I will take more steps forward then backward.
I have been attending 3-4 goats shows a year for the last few years. Mostly, I show because I enjoy spending time with people that have the same passion for goats as myself. Its fun talkin’ goats. I take the actual show with a grain of salt. It is fun, there’s not doubt about that, (even though it is a lot of work to get ready for a show) and it does give me an idea of how the goat’s confirmation compares to others goats in my area. When a goat consistently places in the front half of her class, it tells me she has a lot of positive qualities. Conversely, a goat that consistently finishes at the bottom of her class would tell me that there is much work to be done with her lines.
The reality of showing is that it is very subjective. There is a scorecard, but in my experience judges have certain qualities that they like and choose their winners accordingly. I was at one show where a friend’s goat came in dead last in a very large class. The next day, in another show competing against the very same goats, (different judge)her goat won it’s junior leg. That’s the nature of the beast.
I put much more stock in Classification (AGS) and Linear Appraisal(ADGA). Classification and Linear Appraisal are more accurate ways (but again not perfect) to evaluate an animal’s conformation because, the animal is compared with the ideal goat, not against whatever competition is in the ring at the time. The goat is given a final numeric score based on a total of 100 points. Each area of the animal is evaluated and assigned points based on how close that part comes to being ideal. For example, if an animal is given four (4) points out of the allotted five (5) on teats, that is 80%, and the owner knows that the teats on that animal are only 80% of the ideal.
I have also participated in the one day milk test. The doe is milked two times in a 24 hour period and the milk is weighed (to see how much she produced ) and then two sample are sent off to a lab for analysis of butterfat and protein levels. AGS and ADGA each have their own set of parameters that the goat must meet to achieve her milk star.
Management: Good health is paramount here. Again, I was very careful when purchasing my foundation stock. I chose breeders who were reputable, had no history of CL, and tested their herds for CAE and Johnnes often. I test my herd every year for CAE and Johnnes. (I live in a TB and Brucellosis free state).
To date, I have never had a positive test result for CAE or Johnnes, and, have never had CL on the farm.
I try to keep the goat yard as clean as possible. I keep the food and water dishes in areas where they can’t be defecated into. I have the goats to eat out of their own bowl for two reasons: first, so I know how much each goat eats and second, to help limit the spread of any colds should they occur.
-Kids are vaccinated with CD&T vaccine at 8 and 12 weeks. Boosters are then given every year.
-The goats are wormed as necessary.
-Hooves are trimmed about every 8 weeks and Diatomaceous Earth (food grade) is used topically at the same time to control lice.
-Loose minerals (I use Sweetlix Meatmaker and Golden Blend) are provided.
-Hay is provided at all times and grain is given in varying amounts depending on age, if lactating etc. (Blue Seal Products are used)
-Fresh water is provided daily. It so served warm during the cold months; sometimes with unpasteurized apple cider vinegar added.
-Most importantly, the goats are given love and attention.