If I'm introducing a new series in my blog: My Favorite Goat Things. It's a way to feature resources, tips/tricks and other tools of the trade that I use as a farmer who raises goats for meat. Here's my first #MyFavoriteGoatThings - Enjoy!
One of My Favorite Goat Things: Holistic Goat Care by Gianaclis Caldwell
When it comes to goats, there’s not much research, health care products, equipment, reference books, or even veterinarians who have basic knowledge about or are willing to work with goats. Goat producers usually put on their “goat glasses” and adapt sheep or other ruminant information to manage the health needs of their herd.
That’s why Gianaclis Caldwell’s book, Holistic Goat Care, is such a welcome resource. The book is a comprehensive guide to raising healthy goats, and solving health issues that arise. It’s well suited for both the new and experienced goat keeper, and covers all types of goats. Topics include:
Caldwell presents the content in an easy-to-read manner that flows well, whether one reads the book in its entirety or uses it as a reference guide. Throughout the book, she blends her practical experience with goats with science-based information. Caldwell also takes a broad holistic approach to health care for goats.
While the goat resources that do exist touch on many of the same topics, most do not have the depth of this book, nor recognize holistic management practices.
Since there are few veterinarians in our area who are knowledgeable on goats, I’ve added a goat veterinary textbook to my stack of resources. While Holistic Goat Care doesn’t dive deep into veterinary medical speak, it is a great resource for goat producers. It is much easier to read than the veterinary textbook, and explains terminology and practices for those who may not have formal training or background in animal science. The book also includes a variety of supply lists, check lists, terminology, signs/symptoms, resource lists, photos, troubleshooting guides, A-Z list of disorders, and a glossary. Additionally, the value of the content is more reasonable—about $40 versus $100 or more for a textbook.
I especially liked the feed choice section, which includes information about pasture, grazing, browse, and forages. Other feeding options were covered, but since I practice rotational grazing, I really appreciated the information in this section.
I also liked the information on the role of minerals, vitamins and supplements, covered both in the feed choice and nutritional needs chapters. The book covers how minerals interact with each other, their impact on a goat’s development, signs of deficiencies, risks of an overabundance of minerals, and approaches to supplement for minerals.
The step-by-step instructions on how to do your own fecal float test to look at parasite loads are good, too. She includes a supply list and instructional photos. There isn’t any information on what certain parasite eggs look like. However, that information is easily accessible online or through a consult with your vet.
I never want to lose one of my goats, but I also recognize the importance of continuing to learn how to care for my livestock. Over the years, I’ve had our veterinarian out to the farm to do necropsies. While observing live animal behavior and symptoms can help us draw conclusions to why a goat may have an ailment, it doesn’t always tell us what is actually happening or why. Necropsies have helped answer these questions and as a result I’ve made some adjustments on feeding and management practices. It’s not always feasible to get a vet out to our farm or bring the animal into the clinic. This guide helps solve this challenge by providing clear instructions on doing a necropsy.
If you’re getting started with goats, the first part of the book includes a variety of information on goat behavior, fencing, feeding, animal handling tips, and so on.
While this book isn’t a substitution for veterinary care, it is a very comprehensive holistic health care reference that all goat farmers should consider having on their bookshelf. You can find it on Amazon.com or other retailers that carry books.
If you're interested in learning more about more of my favorite goat things, join our online community for raising goats for meat here.
This book review originally was featured in Midwest Organic and Sustainable Educational Services (MOSES) Organic Broadcaster newsletter, November/December 2017 issue. Farmers can subscribe to mosesorganic.org/sign-up/this newsletter for free at https://mosesorganic.org/sign-up/.
I like hearing back from our customers. It gives me an idea of how we’re doing in terms of raising our livestock and producing quality meat. I also love trying out new recipes to cook goat meat.
Here’s a recipe one of our customers shared with me recently, broiled rosemary garlic goat chops served with sautéed mushrooms and onions, wild rice and asparagus. It looks wonderful. I’m definitely putting this on my to-cook-list. In fact as the weather is warming up with spring, this would be a perfect recipe for the grill, also paired with freshly grown asparagus from our garden. So, thank you David for sharing!
Here’s the recipe, with three cooking options: broiling, pan frying and grilling.
Rosemary Garlic Goat Chops Three Ways (Broiled, Pan Fried or Grilled)
½ c fresh rosemary, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
Ground black pepper
2 lbs. goat chops or rib chops (order Cylon Rolling Acres chops here)
1 tbsp. olive oil
Pan-fried goat chops:
Broiled goat chops:
Grilled goat chops:
Order your goat chops or rib chops from Cylon Rolling Acres here. For more goat meat recipes, cooking tips, promotions, and to know when goat meat is available, sign up for our email list here.
You don’t know how many times this winter (now spring) I’ve been asked, “How’s kidding going?” Each time I explain that we don’t have any babies yet since we’ve moved kidding to later in the season. We’re set to kid in early April and then have the last batch of kids in May.
We’ve kidded and worked with baby goats in January through April, with both babies born on our farm and bottle babies we’ve raised since they were only a few days old. The first few years raising goats we didn’t own a buck and our breeding schedule worked around the farm where we rented a buck. We’ve also bred for earlier in the season (anytime between January and March) because that seems to be what most farms do in our area. So why not do the same? And, with raising bottle babies, we of course were on the schedule of the dairy farms we worked with.
There are many reasons farms kid earlier: raising for the show/fair kid market, having kids be at market weight in the fall, renting bucks like we have done, seasonal milking, and so on.
Here are three reasons why we’ve moved to late season kidding:
If you’re interested in learning more about what we do on our farm raising goats for meat, join our online community here.
What does ordering a whole goat mean? Are you literally getting the whole goat? No, not quite. Not sure if you have the freezer space? No need to worry, I’ll break it down for you here.
Essentially, you’re ordering your meat in bulk. But, if the thought of having a lot of meat is intimidating, don’t worry. I totally understand the concern. Buying goat in bulk is not as much as you might think. In fact, it fills up about a standard reusable grocery tote bag, just a little over 20 pounds of meat.
Why bulk? Bulk saves you money, and time by paying for all of the cuts of meats at once versus purchasing a few cuts of meat at a time, over time (I'm not a big fan of regular shopping, maybe you aren't either. I'd rather spend my time doing other things, like eating good food).
What does a whole goat include? What type of cuts can I expect? It will be cut into traditional meat cuts, the same as a lamb, this includes ground meat, leg, shoulder roast, shoulder steaks, chops, rack or rib chops, ribs, shanks, stew meat (curry cubes) and an option for organ meat (liver, heart, tongue and kidney), as well as bones. The picture on this blog post gives you an idea of the quantity of meat. All the meat is vacuum sealed and frozen for freshness.
How does the pricing work? You’ll pay a set price per pound based on the hanging weight, plus the processing fee from the butcher. A deposit is required when placing an order. Final payment is due at the time of pick up.
(Hanging Weight x Price per Pound) + Processing Fee = Final Price
When can I order? You can order your meat here. Typically, we have 3-4 order deadlines a season (October – March), with occasional order options outside of that timeframe.
To make sure you don’t miss out on ordering, sign up for our email list here.
How do I get my meat? We take care of picking up the meat from our processor. You’ll then pick up your order from our on-farm store on a prearranged time.
Still too much meat? That’s ok. You can always make purchase individual cuts of meat from our on-farm store here. Sign up for the email list to know when cuts are in stock, when there's sales and just to know what's happening on the goat farm.
A few years ago while we were planting our hay field I began my love affair with podcasts. Since I’m a grazier, I only have small equipment for planting and at time we were still using our sub-compact tractor for field work. It worked to plant 10 acres of hay, but it took a LONG time. To pass the time I started listening to podcasts. While my “first” was the first season of Serial, a crime show, it was my gateway into the expansive world of podcasts. Since then I’ve been listening to all sorts of podcasts including daily news, ag/farming, personal/ professional development, humor, pop culture, human interest and others. I also tend to be a pick and choose listener episode listener vs. regularly listening to certain shows.
Recently I presented a Learning Lab at the Wisconsin Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Agriculturalist Conference on podcasts: Listen up! Podcasts 101. Below you’ll find part of what I shared during that session.
Here are a few of my favorite ag/farm podcasts, along with a few in the professional/personal development space:
Episodes worth listening:
Thank you to my friends and followers for giving your input on the podcast list below [ag/farming + personal/professional development}. Note: These podcasts touch on a variety of types of agriculture. AND, I haven’t listened to all of these shows, or all of the episodes (obviously!).
Download the presentation handout (PDF), with the podcast lists and tips for listening.
Did I miss anything? What episodes have really stuck with you that are worth others listening? Comment below and I'll add them to my list!
Our family loves eating tacos and other Mexican food. One of our favorite ways to eat goat meat is in a taco. This recipe was also inspired by a local Mexican restaurant, that occasionally offers goat meat tacos, and works well with a slow cooker, one of my favorite kitchen tools. More recently, I cooked the meat using the slow cook function in my Instant Pot (modifications are listed in the recipe).
Goat Barbacoa Tacos
3 lb. goat roast (contact me to purchase meat)
1 tbs smoked paprika
1 ½ tsp oregano
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 ½ tsp cumin
1 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
Optional: ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbs divided butter
1 tbs liquid smoke
1 c goat or beef bone broth
2 large onions quartered
2 tbs adobe sauce from a can of chipotle peppers in sauce
2 chipotle peppers from same can of chipotle peppers in sauce
1 tbs minced garlic, from a jar
1-2 – 6 oz can tomato paste
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
Tortillas or taco shells of your choice
Toppings of your choice: chopped avocado, shredded cheese, lettuce, tomato, salsa, sour cream, lime juice
Makes about 6 servings of tacos.
Recipe is inspired by a local Mexican restaurant, DJ's, and some of the cooking concepts are also loosely based of Barbacoa-Style Beef in the Instant Pot Miracle cookbook.
Some days on the farm it feels like I’m winning and other days not so much. This one is a win.
Earlier this month I found this wether, whom I call Kevin (all goats that look like this one are called Kevin on our farm BTW), with his front two legs caught in the crotch of a tree. After I pulled him out I realized his legs were sprained, swollen and he was too sore to walk on his own. He also was too big for me to carry out with 50-60 of his closest friends at my feet. So I pulled him out on a sled and set him up in a recovery pen in the barn and gave him some TLC. Slowly he’s been regaining strength in his legs and using them. In the last week he's been gingerly using his front legs instead of moving around on his knees,
Today I moved him to our group pen in another barn with a handful of our goats that aren't on pasture. Right away he was busy "facing off" with another wether trying to establish his place in the pecking order in that group of goats. That's another good sign. While he has lost a lot of conditioning, but I’m grateful he’s progressed as he has.
In June a quick, yet proving to be damaging, storm ⛈ went through. Since then we’ve been having electrical issues on the farm: stray voltage around the barns, metal in the barn carrying an electric current, issues with our electric fence, blown surge protector on fencing system, and even a goat that was either struck by lightening or grounded out a lightening strike by sheer bad luck of circumstances.
The other night we had our electrician out to troubleshoot and he was able to find the source of the issue: the wiring to the auto feeder was likely damaged during that early summer storm and was the cause of our issues. Luckily we aren’t using the auto feeder this time of year so he turned off the breaker and will return to make the fix.
This morning I’m working away at the kitchen counter while I have a sick kiddo home from pre-school. This is day two that he’s home, during my usually three-day work week. I’ll note that as a farmer, I’m truly never off duty, I still have to chores, check livestock and carve out time here and there for other projects outside of my Monday-Wednesday “8 to 5” work week. Don’t get me wrong. I am very glad I have the flexibility to take time off to be here for my kids when they aren’t feeling well. And, I do want to be here for him. But, that means I also had to cancel an onsite meeting I had with a meat processor and will likely sort of get to the rest of my tasks today (working on business marketing, a community outreach project, and of course the day-to-day work of the farm). That’s ok. It’s part of being a parent. But, if I’m really being honest as a one-woman shop, I admit it’s a little disheartening to feel like I’m losing traction on getting things done and moving the needle on my farm business.
Aside from my parent duties today (and, of course every day), part of the reason we’ve chosen to have daycare for our kids, is so I have designated time to focus on my business. It’s for a variety of motives: being present with my work and with my family, being safe around the farm, effective use of time in the office and on the farm, balance (or attempt!) between work and family time, and (also, an attempt) to prevent burn out in work and, even in our marriage. I know others who make it work and kudos to them! This is what fits for our family and farm. [Side note: Did you know that Bert on Sesame Street was just reading “50 Shades of Oatmeal” before he got interrupted by Ernie to make a movie? Ha ha. Got to love PBS Kids ]
I’ve written and talked about this balance of being a parent and farming before. And as others may also know, one of my favorite “hobbies” is to listen to podcasts for both fun and professional development. This morning seemed to be a nice fit for sharing several “good listens” in the world of podcasts as it relates to women in agriculture and leadership. Note these link to Apple podcasts since that's where I listen, but you should be able to find them on other podcast platforms.
Do you know of other relevant podcasts? I’d love to hear your recommendations! I know have a few more Female Farmer Project and Sharpen podcasts on related to this topic on my "listen list."
Nearly a week ago we hosted a pasture walk on our farm to share our grazing practices and how we raise our goats on pasture with fellow graziers and goat farmers. Thank you to River Country Graziers (including Kevin Mahalko for leading the discussion), Wisconsin Farmers Union and the Indianhead Sheep and Goat Breeders Association for coordinating the event. And, thank you to my State Senator Patty Schachtner and Representative Rob Stafsholt for attending as well.
As a grazier with four or so years of experience, I was able to share how we’ve gradually renovated our pastures, set up our fencing and water system, practice rotational grazing, and manage our goat herds in a pasture-based system. I’ve always enjoyed attending pasture walks to see how other farmers are grazing and managing their livestock. It was humbling as a newer grazier to be at a point where I could start to share what we’re doing on our farm with others. Personally, I also appreciated the discussion and tips other graziers offered during the walk as well. I was able to take a way a few ideas regarding some of my current “challenges” as it relates to conductivity, grounding and hotness of the electric fencing and rotation timing.
I’m looking forward to taking in a few other pasture walks this summer, including others that are local and of course, other small ruminant graziers.
Thank you to Danielle Endvick, communications director for Wisconsin Farmers Union, for taking and sharing the photos of our pasture walk.
I own and manage Cylon Rolling Acres in northwestern Wisconsin. On my farm I raise Boer - Kiko meat goats on pasture.
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Cylon (pronounced Si-lon) is the name of our township in St. Croix County, Wisconsin. Sorry fans, our farm is not named after the robots of Battlestar Galactica.