The primary reason for Harner Farm to have dairy goats is to keep LeAnn from leaving the place for more than 12 hours.
I hope you laughed!The REAL primary reason for Harner Farm to have dairy goats is to provide milk and dairy products for personal use. A secondary reason is to utilize home grown forage, including weeds and leaves, as a part of their diet whenever possible and as a supplement to a good dairy ration. Our goats should be able to live healthy, happy, and productive lives, so shelter and other facilities should work towards that goal.To find some efficiencies in the operation, we will look at the possibility for seeking milk and cheese customers as well as work towards milking all year round. This will require 4-5 milking does.
Since Harner Farm is not primarily a seedstock producer, an attempt should be made to milk for considerably longer than 12 months. With Money, Star and Penny, there should be genetics for extended lactations.
Replacement stock should be evaluated for all-round soundness and structure, health, milking ability (both quantity and butterfat) and the type of personality which fits into a small operation. While our preference is to raise our own replacement stock, the cost of such should be evaluated versus buying replacements. Breeding decisions should reflect our replacement needs, but any stock not needed for replacement should be sold as soon as feasible to allow for other use of milk.
To further our goal, for 2014, we plan the following:
Money bred to Dandy – Keep at least one doeling if one is born .- Try to keep Money in milk as long as possible to avoid problems with pregnancy and birthing.
Penny AI’d – Keep buckling to breed to Cherry and Sherri – Keep at least one doeling if available. Plan to rebreed for 2015 kids.
Star AI’d – Unless there’s something spectacular, sell the kids. – Try to milk as long as possible, perhaps even through 2015.
Cherry & Sherri – Sell their 2014 kids. – Evaluate their milking ability and, depending on condition, consider trying to milk one of them through. – Depending on how they milk and develop, consider keeping a doeling from them in 2015.**********************
When considering participation in ADGA or other programs, we should ask ourselves, “How does this further our primary goal?” and prioritize accordingly. This puts the highest priority on milk records. In 2013, all milk was weighed by LeAnn, but getting onto DHIA should be a priority in 2014. Linear Appraisal (LA) is another program which provides an objective evaluation of structure and should be helpful in making breeding decisions. We recognize that we do not need registered animals to achieve our goals and running a purebred/registered herd is a personal preference that won’t necessarily contribute to the bottom line. We like purchasing from herds who routinely test for health and have production or other records, so we’ve elected to go the purebred route. That also makes it a bit easier to sell kids as 4-H projects. While participating in shows is fun, showing does not advance our herd towards our primary goal. However, we are committed to helping increase the visibility of the goat industry in our state as well as communication between goat breeders. Shows can be a means of addressing those issues. So we’ll help out at shows and may participate in some locally.As a complement to the goat operation, pasture improvement should be considered with an emphasis on high-protein plants to supplement or replace some of the purchased alfalfa.
Most importantly – we can and should be able to enjoy working with our goats. At the point where the goats become a physical and mental burden, we need to evaluate the program and decide if the herd should be disbursed.