Posted by GoatWorld on January 01, 2003 at 04:59:55:
Goat production on the rise
Justin Baldwin (Nevada Daily Mail)
Here a goat, there a goat — the curious animals seem to be found on several farms in Vernon County. Many residents have noticed an increase in the numbers of goat herds and pastures along the backroads of Vernon County. David Blauvelt, a goat farmer north of Sheldon, started out with just a few goats, but said it doesn’t take long to end up with a small herd of goats. There are two basic types of goats. Like cattle, they are divided into meat and dairy breeds. Dairy breeds include Alpine and Saanen, while meat breeds range from Kinder to Boer. Dairy goats have seasonal estrus that only allows one kidding a year but with a gestation period of 5 months it is possible to have three kiddings every 2 years with breeds like Kinder. Blauvelt says that goats can be used as a compliment to a cow outfit because goats, being mostly brush eaters, do not compete for resources and can actually improve existing range. When eating hay it takes about seven goats to eat what one cow would. Rebecca Nichols is one of many people who buy goats for pets or as 4-H projects. “Dairy goats are the prime animal for 4-H’rs starting out who can’t afford a horse or a cow.” Nichols also praised the benefits of goat milk, saying that it cures everything from constipation to diarrhea. “It’s so well balanced that your body can use it right away,” she said, adding that it takes twenty minutes for the human body to start to digest cows milk. However, raising goats is also very labor intensive. They need constant attention to vaccinate against parasites and regular hoof trimming. Since there is no effective mechanical device for goat restraint they must be manhandled. Blauvelt said that while a sheep will settle down after it has been thrown, goats are fighters. Goats, especially the smaller breeds, also require good fences because of their independent nature and casual disregard for property. Nichols added, “People don’t realize how smart goats are.” Producers admit that there is little market for goat products in and around Vernon County. Blauvelt said that most of the goat meat domestically is purchased by ethnic populations, “Outside of Europe, everybody eats goat.” The export market, however, is picking up, especially to the Far East where it is more cost effective to import meat than raise goats. Still, there is a light on the goat-producing horizon. The International Dairy Goat Registry, headed by Emily Yoder, provides a purebred goat registry and offers milk testing. Goat milk can be purchased straight from the farm but, as of yet, is not available in local stores. Yoder feels that all of this will change once people realize the dangers of pasteurization and the benefits of fresh milk. Producers can buy goats at a monthly sheep and goat sale at both the Nevada Livestock Auction and Heely Livestock Market in El Dorado Springs.
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