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The Goat Newsletter, Christmas 2007 Issue -
December 19, 2007
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and All the Very Best for 2008Tis the Goat Season to be Jolly
Well itís a popular time for various ethnic groups to want quality goats to eat and a market that meat goat farmers need to tailor there supplies to. In addition this week it is also a major Muslim festival where significant quantities of goats are required. This week the Haj is in progress at Mecca, and many Muslims are preparing for Eid al-Adha, when families traditionally slaughter an animal for a banquet of meat and rice in commemoration of Abrahamís willingness to sacrifice his son. Well the rise in goat prices caused by supply limitations, fuel driven high transport costs is affecting this market, and low dollar is increasing cost on imported animals. As an indicator one news report states that in Dubai, it is now impossible to buy a scrawny Somali goat for less than $100 (Ä70, £50), let alone a very high quality goat from India, which costs more than $400. Whatís Happening at LekkerBokkie Goat Farm
We have undergone some changes in our own goat operations this year. Farming meat goats is not always as profitable as one would like and sliding export meat goat prices have forced a rethink. This is in spite of us producing some very good quality kids from our third and fourth cross Boer commercial herd. We have had considerable success however in selling third and fourth Boer cross doe kids for the export trade in breeding animals, mostly in Asia. We ware using both Boer bucks and Kalahari Red bucks with the core commercial meat herd and produced many triplets and three sets of quads this past season.
Our focus is however in developing our stud herd and we have sourced many high quality and award winning full blood Boer does from a top breeder, and many are on the South African Register. Some have already produced some show quality doe kids, and we hope to have selected animals for sale in around 12 months.
We have also expanded our Kalahari Red breeding herd to 11 does, and we have just joined them with a good buck, so look forward to seeing the results in 5 months.
We were decimated this past year by foxes, who wiped out between 70-100 kids. Itís heart breaking to see the remains of these kids every morning. We then invested in some Alpaca herd protectors, but the conclusion was they were less than effective, in one case I witnessed a fox calmly stroll by them without fear, reminding me of that old cartoon where dog and coyote clock in every morning at the pasture, exchange greetings and then do battle. We have solved our problems and we now have 2 Maremma guard dogs living with the herd, and they are proving to be a great investment.
About Feeding Goats
With the worst drought in 100 years, feeding our commercial Boer goat herd has been fraught with difficulties, and over stocking is a real risk both to available feed and pasture recovery. Early on I did soil samples and fertilized last summer and fall in spite of the minimal rain, however this strategy has now paid off. With drought breaking rain, my pastures are the lushest and greenest in the district, however it was also prudent as fertilizer prices have dramatically increased, both from demand and driven by high oil prices. Of course grain prices are now sky high so our large grain silo will not have oats in for awhile yet.
Growing Tree Lucerne for Goats
Sometimes adversity and tough times requires innovation and thinking outside the box. I have long been interested in Tagasaste or Tree Lucerne as a primary fodder source for goats. For those who donít know, Tagasaste originally comes from the Canary Islands and is a very high protein and high quality fodder source that never runs out. It puts down a deep root system and has been proven to effectively increase animal stocking rates by around 500% when used with sheep and cattle. We all know that the preferred fodder of a goat is browse yet most of us rely on the secondary preferred source of grass pastures. We have now invested in 4,500 plants that are now planted in the ground in 2 plantations, and in 18 months we will use this as our primary feed source and hard graze the trees so they do not get much above 5 feet (1.5 m) in height. We know they trees are very palatable as our goats have already found several that form part of are tree re-afforestation plantations around our property. The damage speaks for itself! The upsides are the goats will be on high quality natural diet, also they will only consume a much smaller quality of pasture reducing internal parasite and drenching requirements. We will keep you posted on progress.
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