I did not think that the manner in which we farm and raise our animals was out of the ordinary, it just seemed, to me, the right way of doing things and treating animals: in a loving and humane manner.
The times they are a changin'. .. I know there are others like me out there and more people are becoming aware that there are alternatives to ways of doing things such as raising livestock.
What is so different about what I am doing and how I do things?
I raise goats in a humane, natural & holistic manner. I treat my animals with the love, dignity and the respect they deserve. I try to understand my animals and care for for them as naturally as possible, keeping in mind, that letting "Nature take it's course" is not always the correct choice. Domesticated animals and livestock have been altered by man through breeding, they are not wild creatures, and often need our help. We altered them, so it is our responsibility to care for them properly.
By having my own milk goats I am not supporting Factory Farming (in this case, Factory Farmed milk and dairy: that use cruel and inhumane production methods). I am encouraging others to not support cruel farming as well.
Because I raise dairy goats, I do have kids each year. I sell my goats to people wishing to have their own milkers to supply wholesome and humane milk and dairy products for their families. I also sell goats to small organic dairies who are trying to produce milk and cheese in a humane manner. Also see: Selling Goats
There are many caring people out there doing what they can to be kind and humane. By encouraging them and helping, teaching and advising people who wish to raise animals in a caring and humane manner, is a way, not only to help them, but is also a way to not support factory farming and inhuman practices. By providing information and good stock for these newly emerging small herds, we are doing our part to help this Alternative/Caring type of farming.
My methods and motives are different than many other farms and breeders: it's just the way I feel and do things.
I receive the following types of questions every once and a while, so I thought I would address them here on my site:
Question: If you have a farm isn't it a fact that there is no way around killing/culling undesirable animals if you are going to make a profit?
Answer: No. But then it takes more work and you will probably make less money then by farming by "traditional" methods. I am not into farming as my sole income source, and I do tell people who wish to get goats to not get in it for money, but for the love of sharing your life with the animals.
Question: Do you send wethers or have you sent wethers or animals that can't be used for breeding to slaughter?
Answer: No, never.
I never sell goats (or any other animal) for meat or meat related purposes.
My wethers (neutered males) are all sold as pets and companions. They are raised with the same love and care we give our does (girl goats).
Question: How can you sell wethers as pets?
Answer: By raising them in a loving and caring manner my wethers are well suited as pets.
There are people who wish to have goats as pets and companions, just like people wish to have cats, dogs, birds or horses. Some people like to know that their pets came from a good home and were well cared for. These people like to support the humane care of animals and by purchasing their wethers from a farm that practices humane methods. I am not a "goat mill". I have only a few goats available for sale each year and so I can take the time needed to care for each individual.
Here are a couple examples:
I had a woman pick up 3 boys. She drove 600 miles round trip to get them from us because we raise our goats in a humane and holistic manner. She was going to get goats and she wanted her pets to come from a farm that raises in a humane and loving manner. She wanted to support the type of goat raising we practice: treating animals with love and respect.
Another lady got 5 wethers from us. She drove 8 hours round trip for 4 wethers one year and she loved them so much, she returned the next year another one. She knew we raised friendly and healthy goats.
Question: Do you feel that even if you treat your own animals humanely that you are still part of a cruel industry, and supporting it by buying and selling animals who will circulate into that industry?Question: Don't you have to take the kids away form the mothers because:
I am not part of the cruel factory farming industry. In my manner of farming I treat my animals humanely and providing humanely raised animals to other like minded people. People are searching for farmers such as mine, and are happy to support this manner of farming.
There are other people wishing to farm in an Alternative and humane manner. I have had a few small organic dairies purchase "starter herds" from me. I am located in TN but sell goats to places a far as NY, MO, PA, TX. These people not only want to farm in a Alternative manner, they want to support the type of farming we practice: raising holistically healthy animals and treating them love and respect. They also want to start their herds with animals that they know are healthy. It is very important to me to raise healthy and happy goats. People are searching for farmers such as me and want to support this manner of farming.
I won't get rich, but I don't care about that...it is "Right Livelihood". I have no trouble with my conscience. I know I am living a good life.
1) Isn't it standard procedure in the goat community to practice "CAE prevention", which entails taking the kids away from the mothers the moment they are born and bottle raising them on pasteurized milk. If you do not practice CAE prevention, how can you expect to sell goats?
2) If you want to have friendly goats you have to bottle feed them?Answer:
1) CAE can be a very touchy subject among "goat people". There are many different sides to the "CAE story" and different people have different opinions on this matter. For more on CAE, click here.
I do not agree with taking the kids away from their mothers at birth. It goes against my personal beliefs and I feel this is cruel emotionally for the mother as well as the kids.
I also feel that raising the kid in an unnatural way (bottle feeding) causes stress. Kids need their mothers to love them and teach them. Pasteurizing milk kills bacteria, and yes, it will kill the CAE virus, but it also kills the beneficial bacteria in the milk. Without this beneficial bacteria, the kid's immune system does not become as strong as it would on raw milk. Pasteurizing "cooks" the milk. I believe that kids especially need "uncooked" colostrum to get a proper start in life. This cooking destroys much of the nutrients and vitamins in the milk (please read: raw milk info). Also, I have found that kids that have access to their own mother's milk as they are growing up, grow bigger and stronger, and are hardier and more disease resistant as adults.
Bottle feeding all your kids takes a lot of time: you have to milk the goats, take the milk to the house, pasteurize it, cool it, then bring it back down to feed the kids, not to mention all the washing up. If you eliminate this huge chore, you have much more time that can be spent caring for the entire herd, cleaning the goats living area and making sure all the goats are well treated and looked after... keeping the entire herd Holistically healthy and stress free.
Even with tests, and practicing CAE prevention (pulling kids, separating CAE positive animals, etc.), there is no way of guaranteeing that a herd is totally "free" of CAE. You can only know if a herd has recently tested negative to the antibodies. Goats have been known to be raised in a totally "free" herd for many years and all of a sudden, as many as seven years later, "revert". Any goat can "revert" at any time. So even taking the kids away from their mothers does not guarantee CAE free. I have read that even though up to 80% of goats can be infected with the CAE virus, only maybe 10% of those will ever exhibit symptoms, and most of those cases will be mild. So, we feel, if the goats are raised in a holistically healthy manner, with strong immune systems and their lives are relatively stress free, they will be even more able to resist this virus.
I started my herd with just a few does and bucks have "bred up" with these animals. After years of breeding and holistic husbandry, I now maintain a very healthy, happy, well adjusted herd with strong immune systems. My herd has never shown any signs of any disease.
I sell all the goats we offer for sale every year. I have never had a sale, that I know of, lost due to the fact we let the mothers raise their babies. In fact, one of the reasons people seek me out and request to purchase goats from me is because I let the mothers raise their kids. There are a lot of people out there who think taking the kids away from the mothers is not right. ... more than you think.... Just because some breeders loudly insist that taking the kids away from their mom is the only way, does not mean it actually is.
2) Some people believe that to insure friendly kids, and thus insure friendly adult goats, you must bottle raise the kids. This is simply not true.
You probably did not bottle feed your dog and/or cat and yet they are friendly. In the same turn, you can not expect a dog or cat that has had no human contact growing up, to not be wary of humans and run away when approached. Goats are as smart as, and can be as loving as, dogs and cats, and the same is true for them.
While most "bottle babies" are very human oriented (because they see humans as a food source), it is not a guarantee of their true affection. All my kids/goats are extremely friendly, and I do not bottle raise them. I have bottle raised some kids if their mothers refused them or could not make enough milk to kid them, and have actually found that our dam raised kids grow into friendlier adult goats than the bottle raise ones. Why are they friendly? Because I make it a point to spend time with them daily, starting from the day they are born. I am present at every birth. I hold the kids and pet them and show them affection. I sit with them everyday while they are very young and let them climb and play on me. These loved kids/adult goats look to us for affection, not food. Yes, this way of raising goats can be a little time consuming, but then, so is bottle raising. Remember, the bottle only lasts 'til the kids are weaned... love lasts a lifetime.
Love is not just about where your meals come from; you may be interested to read the story of Goldie & Goldie Jr.