Farmer Focus: Goat rearing starts with colostrum intake

We hosted a Farming Connect meeting recently, focusing on rearing dairy goats.

It was very well attended with about 50 people from both new and well established goat units.

Because of the high cost of rearing kids and the target of first kidding at 12 months of age, rearing needs to be well focused with good attention to detail.

Colostrum intake in newborn kids was emphasised as a good starting point. With a rapid reduction in the level of antibodies in colostrum over the first 24 hours, we need to get those kids suckling as soon as possible or tube them with colostrum.

This presents challenges at kidding time, with extra labour requirements on top of the routine feeding, bedding and milking.

Another challenge is rearing the kids in a dry, well-ventilated and draught-free building to prevent pneumonia and other diseases.

We have adapted an existing lean-to shed, with green mesh side netting and straw-covered shelters, and we clean out the pens weekly. However, it is not ideal, so we have plans to erect a purpose-built rearing shed next year.

See also: Goat milk market will soon be oversupplied

Several producers have started goat milk production recently, but no processors seem to be taking on any new farmers. So if you are thinking of entering the sector, you have probably missed the opportunity.

As a relatively small-scale farmer, I don’t tend to get invited to many corporate hospitality events, so I was grateful to my bank manager Tim Sowerby for inviting me to lunch with Adam Henson and some Herefordshire barley barons.

Many banks are moving farmers to call centre managers, but we are lucky to still have a dedicated agricultural manager that understands farm businesses.

First-cut silage was baled and wrapped in square bales in good weather and ground conditions.

As goats are prone to listeria, it is essential to avoid soil contamination. So the local mole bounty hunter needs to be employed, at vast expense, to keep on top of the fury menaces.

Despite losing to England in extra time, at least the Wales football team still managed to top their group.

Gary and Jess Yeomans run a herd of 700 milking goats across 100ha, which supplies a local cheese factory. They also own a small pedigree Welsh Black suckler herd to graze permanent pasture.