Thursday, July 13, 2006

Goat School

In order to distance myself from the turkeys, I attended an all-day workshop on goats provided by our area State Extension Agents and NC State. The morning was long and filled with lectures by an extension agent telling us how to care for goats and a NC State professor teaching us the newest, hippest techinique for bloodsucking worm control. The afternoon everyone separated into two groups - dairy and meat. (Actually we sort of separated ourselves early on.) There was quite the distinction between the meat raising, boot-wearing, big belt buckle-sporting mostly male crowd and the natural fiber-wearing, clog and sandal-sporting, almost completely female (one man!) dairy crowd.

The new, hip FAMACHA method of parasite control is basically used to control the little blood suckers by treating only goats with a big load of the worms. This helps by keeping the worms from becoming drug resistant. You do a regular check of the membrane around the goat's eye and treat only those showing signs of anemia. We got to practice on real goats and it was then that you saw the real difference in the goat types. We practiced on Boer goats, a meat variety with horns. Most dairy goats are disbudded as babies, so they never grow horns. So some dairy people were a little timid at first around the horns. However, the dairy people had the least trouble handling the goats. You see we play with our goats everyday. The meat guys went in and wrestled the goats around by grabbing the horns and using brute force sometimes. The dairy people sweet-talked the goats and scratched their ears. We worked in teams of two so one person could hold the goat while the other looked at the eye. It was interesting, but I'm glad my goats don't have horns...

After lunch we broke into our respective groups. The meat people talked about fencing and housing and government regulations. The dairy people talked about breed personalities, shared recipes, discussed kidding and milking and feeding. And then we all trimmed hooves!

I met some great people, got a lead on a boyfriend for the girls and found out I can get great hay right down the road at the college. Oh and I got invited to join the dairy goat club!

The turkeys were rather upset when I got home and were only appeased by lots of food. I think they suspect that I like the goats more. Sshh. We'll keep that our little secret.


  1. Hmm, I wonder where that puts us, with our fledgling meat-dairy cross operation. I think I need a big belt buckle and some sandals.

  2. It says a lot that I am now feeling sorry for the turkeys...

    Glad you had a good time, and it sounds like really useful stuff, too. Just out of interest, how many goats do you have at the moment, and how long do you spend looking after them each day? (Guess who's consdering a goat or two...)

  3. e4,
    Belt buckle and sandals are a slight fashion risk, but go for it! I think most of the meat production people were first into cattle and other "farm" things and have more recently turned to goats. The dairy people seemed to have gotten goats because they were into the milk, cheese and soap - or just liked goats and it grew from there. Many of them sell their extra kids and culls for meat as well. The lunch conversation revolved around recipes for kid :)

    I have two La Mancha/Nigerian crosses. I spend probably about an hour a day taking care of them (which includes petting and just hanging out). That will most likely go up when they are freshened. We are finishing the fencing, so they are stuck in a smaller pen each day. I've been letting them out to play for about 1/2 hour to an hour each evening, which turns me into a goat herder. I enjoy the time, they are a lot of fun.

  4. Oh man... the Crips and the Bloods visit Green Acres.

  5. Once E gets in from his "biatholon training" - a jog around the block and then five laps in the pool, lol, I'm off to give the goats their CDT shots - and a long overdue hoof trim. :)