Thursday, December 29, 2011

Goat Rancher columnist authors book

Yvonne Zweede-Tucker

Whatever your reasons for wanting to raise meat goats might be, if you're curious about, thinking about, or planning to start a meat goat enterprise, you probably have lots of questions:

What kind of goats should you choose? How do you buy them and care for them? How do they reproduce? How do you sell them? The Meat Goat Handbook has the answers to those questions and more.

Goat Rancher columnist Yvonne Zweede-Tucker draws on 20 years of hands-on experience to help you raise your own meat goats. Illustrated throughout with color photography, this instructive handbook includes advice about breeds, feeding, housing, safety, health, kidding, butchering and selling product, as well as a glossary of goat terms.

Raising meat goats is increasingly popular and profitable. This book emphasizes profitability and how to build a truly successful meat goat operation. If you're bold and ready to take on a new challenge, The Meat Goat Handbook will be an invaluable guide.  Yvonne and her husband, Craig, raise meat goats at Smoke Ridge Ranch in Choteau, Mt. Her articles appear monthly in Goat Rancher.

$19.99 + $5.50 Shipping (Available in U.S. only) Click here to order!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sheep & goat census reinstated

The National Agricultural Statistics Service NASS leadership recently concluded a deliberate review of all programs against mission- and user-based criteria, aimed at finding cost savings and forward-thinking business efficiencies so that timely, accurate and useful data remains available in service to agriculture. In 2011, NASS made several enhancements within its programs and operations to deliver improved results for the American people, including opening a new national operations center in St. Louis that will centralize data collection and service to people who provide and use NASS products and services. These efforts and more over the last year have allowed NASS leadership the flexibility within its budget to retain and reinstate several key reports. 

The reinstated programs are:
  • Annual Reports on Farm Numbers, Land in Farms Reports and Farm Income
  • Catfish and Trout Reports (data collection begins Dec. 9; report released Dec. 20)
  • Annual Floriculture Report
  • January Sheep and Goat Report (data collection begins Dec. 23; report date is Jan. 27)
  • July Cattle Report
  • Annual Bee and Honey Report (data collection begins Jan. 23; report date is
  • March 30)
  • Annual Hops Production Report (data collection begins Dec. 9; report date is
  • Dec. 21)
  • Annual Mink Report
  • Fruit and Vegetable in season forecast and estimates
  • Rice Stocks June Report

Sunday, December 25, 2011

More young people see opportunities in farming

By Dinesh Ramde, Associated Press

MILWAUKEE – A Wisconsin factory worker worried about layoffs became a dairy farmer. An employee at a Minnesota nonprofit found an escape from her cubicle by buying a vegetable farm. A nuclear engineer tired of office bureaucracy decided to get into cattle ranching in Texas.
  • Laura Frerichs, 31, on her organic farm outside Hutchinson, Minn. Frerichs discovered her passion for farming about a year after she graduated from college with an anthropology degree.
    By Jim Mone, AP
    Laura Frerichs, 31, on her organic farm outside Hutchinson, Minn. Frerichs discovered her passion for farming about a year after she graduated from college with an anthropology degree.
By Jim Mone, AP
Laura Frerichs, 31, on her organic farm outside Hutchinson, Minn. Frerichs discovered her passion for farming about a year after she graduated from college with an anthropology degree.
While fresh demographic information on U.S. farmers won't be available until after a new agricultural census is done next year, there are signs more people in their 20s and 30s are going into farming: Enrollment in university agriculture programs has increased, as has interest in farmer-training programs.
Young people are turning up at farmers markets and are blogging, tweeting and promoting their agricultural endeavors through other social media.
The young entrepreneurs typically cite two reasons for going into farming: Many find the corporate world stifling and see no point in sticking it out when there's little job security; and demand for locally grown and organic foods has been strong enough that even in the downturn they feel confident they can sell their products.
Laura Frerichs, 31, of Hutchinson, Minn., discovered her passion for farming about a year after she graduated from college with an anthropology degree. She planned to work in economic development in Latin America and thought she ought to get some experience working on a farm.
She did stints on five farms, mostly vegetable farms, and fell in love with the work. Frerichs and her husband now have their own organic farm, and while she doesn't expect it to make them rich, she's confident they'll be able to earn a living.
"There's just this growing consciousness around locally grown foods, around organic foods," she said. "Where we are in the Twin Cities, there's been great demand for that."
Farming is inherently risky: Drought, flooding, wind and other weather extremes can all destroy a year's work. And with farmland averaging $2,140 per acre across the United States. but two to four times that much in the Midwest and California, start-up costs can be daunting.
Still, agriculture fared better than many parts of the economy during the recession, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts record profits for farmers as a whole this year.
"People are looking at farm income, especially the increase in asset values, and seeing a really positive story about our economy," said USDA senior economist Mary Clare Ahearn, citing preliminary statistics. "Young people are viewing agriculture as a great opportunity and saying they want to be a part of it."
That's welcome news to the government. More than 60% of farmers are over the age of 55, and without young farmers to replace them when they retire the nation's food supply would depend on fewer and fewer people.
"We'd be vulnerable to local economic disruptions, tariffs, attacks on the food supply, really, any disaster you can think of," said Poppy Davis, who coordinates the USDA's programs for beginning farmers and ranchers.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has called for 100,000 new farmers within the next few years, and Congress has responded with proposals that would provide young farmers with improved access to USDA support and loan programs.
One beginning farmer is Gabrielle Rojas, 34, from the central Wisconsin town of Hewitt. As a rebellious teen all she wanted to do was leave her family's farm and find a career that didn't involve cows. But she changed her mind after spending years in dead-end jobs in a factory and restaurant.
"In those jobs I'm just a number, just a time-clock number," Rojas said. "But now I'm doing what I love to do. If I'm having a rough day or I'm a little sad because the sun's not shining or my tractor's broken, I can always go out and be by the cattle. That always makes me feel better."
Rojas got help in changing careers from an apprenticeship program paid for by the USDA, which began giving money in 2009 to universities and nonprofit groups that help train beginning farmers. The grants helped train about 5,000 people the first year. This year, the USDA estimates more than twice as many benefited.
One of the groups that received a grant is Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, or MOSES. The Spring Valley, Wis., chapter teaches farming entrepreneurs how to cope with price swings and what to do in cases of catastrophic weather.
MOSES also organizes field days, where would-be farmers tour the operations of successful farms to learn and share tips. Attendance is up 20% this year, director Faye Jones said, and some outings that used to attract 30 or 40 people have drawn as many as 100, most between the ages of 18 and 30.
"I think for many people, farming has been a lifelong dream, and now the timing is right," she said. Among the reasons she cited: the lifestyle, working in the fresh air and being one's own boss.
If farming is beginning to sound like an appealing career, there are downsides. The work involves tough physical labor, and vacations create problems when there are crops to be harvested and cows to be milked.
In addition, many farmers need second jobs to get health insurance or make ends meet. As the USDA notes, three-fifths of farms have sales of less than $10,000 a year, although some may be growing fruit trees or other crops that take a few years to develop.
None of those factors dissuaded 27-year-old Paul Mews. He left a high-paying job as a nuclear engineer last year to become a cattle rancher in Menard, Tex. His wife's family has been ranching for generations, and Mews decided he'd much rather join his in-laws and be his own boss than continue shuffling paperwork at the plant.
"When you're self-employed, it's so much more fulfilling. You get paid what you're worth," he said. "It's really nice that what you put into it is what you're going to get back out."

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas goats called marketing bull

By Claer Barrett, Retail Correspondent

Thousands of people on Christmas day will open charity gift cards donating goats, sheep and other vital supplies to poverty-stricken African farmers. However, many will be unaware that their cash is not earmarked for a specific animal, but diverted into general fundraising activities.
Attacked as a “gross dishonesty” by the Charities Advisory Trust, which advises charities on how to raise money more effectively, the practice of “giving a goat” at Christmas has been a lucrative and increasingly popular fundraising tactic for charities.



But recipients of these gift and e-cards will seldom read the small print, which admits the animals are little more than an emotive marketing technique used to solicit general donations.
Oxfam Unwrapped, which has sold £60m of ethical gifts since 2004, does not guarantee that the funds raised will ultimately be used for a defined purpose. Promising to “get your gift where it’s needed most”, the online small print states: “This kind of flexibility means that poor communities worldwide can get exactly what they need if and when their circumstances change.”

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Plans for Maryland buck test announced

Plans are under way for the 2012 Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test.

The test is open to male goats of any breed or breed cross, with or without registration eligibility. Goat producers from any state may consign up to five goats to the test.  It is recommended that producers consign at least two goats and that the goats be half-sibs (sired by the same buck). 

Eligible goats must weigh between 35 and 70 lbs. upon delivery to the test site on June 2. They must have been born between December 20, 2011, and March 20, 2012, inclusive. The goats will need to have been weaned for at least 2 weeks and  have received two inoculations for overeating diseases and tetanus (CD-T).  The goats should be adjusted to a forage-based diet. 

The nomination period will be from April 1 until May 15. A $20 deposit will be due at the time of nomination. After a short adjustment period, starting weights will be recorded on Thursday, June 7.  The test will officially last for 98 days. The final data will be collected on Thursday, September 13.

The goats will be worked every two weeks to determine body weights, FAMACHA, body condition, coat condition, and dag scores. Towards the end of the test, the goats will be scanned (with ultrasound) to determine rib eye area and fat thickness.

They will be evaluated for reproductive soundness and structural correctness. In 2012, hooves will be more closely examined, as hoof growth and health is an important aspect of a goat's fitness.

Proposed changes to the goat test will be shared via future blog entries. Click here to follow the blog.

Monday, December 19, 2011

American Goat Federation Roundup

Since establishment in mid-2010 the American Goat Federation has been gathering strength through numbers as various goat industry organizations and individuals have joined the ranks for a national and united voice. The list of members currently includes representation from all the major sectors and many regions of the USA. 

The Federation will hold its 2012 annual meeting in Scottsdale, AZ on Saturday, January 28 at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort. At that time in addition to developing, discussing and accepting a Strategic Plan the election of new Board members will occur. Goat producers, goat organization representatives, and member agencies are encouraged to attend and provide input. 

Over the past 18 months various Board members and taskforce chairs have been active representing the American goat sector in numerous policy development, planning, informational, and study events.  A recently released summary of those accomplishments has been compiled and is available by request or through the AGF website.  Among them were participation in three working groups associated with USDA Agriculture Research Service and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture programs in animal health and animal agriculture systems. Some of these deliberations were species-specific and if AGF had not stepped forward the goat sector would have been without an informed voice and representation. 

The Federation has been a part of discussions held by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture which seeks collaborative efforts to keep the public informed and to highlight science-based information on various production systems.  The AGF will have a major influence on matters related to the program development for the next national goat conference which will provide the latest information on the production, marketing, and societal elements of goat products and services. 

A viable and dynamic website ( has been developed and is functioning with regular updates on activities and issues. The rolling masthead is a reminder that the AGF is about many types of goats and many types of products produced across the country. The AGF logo resulted from the tireless efforts of a Board taskforce called on to be creative and results-oriented. Yet to come will be links to recommended informational resources providing science-based information that can provide positive impact on enterprise goals, including profitability.

The Federation has been represented at selected events where the purpose and goals have been shared with goat owners across the country.  We recognize that there are many issues where our many voices will gain attention on issues such as minor species, minor-use provisions, goat husbandry and production research priorities, availability of market news, consumer options in product utilization, and global influences. We have much to do, including providing more targeted member services and broad participation. Those things will get a lot of attention during the next few months and especially at the Scottsdale meeting.  We encourage all members to attend, participate in discussions, and be willing to become engaged in our future.  Additional information will be forthcoming via the website and direct contact with member groups and individuals.   

Aggieland Lamb and Goat camps July 2012

What: Aggieland™ Lamb & Goat Camps - a 3-day program dedicated to teaching parents and students the fundamentals of feeding, nutrition, health, facilities, selection, and showmanship.

View ALGC Questions and Answers

Lamb Camp - Friday, July 20, 2012 at 11a.m. - Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 3 p.m.
Goat Camp - Friday, July 27, 2012 at 11 a.m. - Sunday, July 29, 2012 at 3 p.m.
Where: College Station, TX - Pearce Pavilion

Cost: Campers: $150 - Adult/Sponser: $60
Who: Anyone ages eight years-old and older
Registration: Will be open March 21, 2012 by 12p.m.
"I wanted to extend a great thanks on the success that attending lamb camp in July was for my son. His showmanship skills and knowledge of lambs has grown considerably."
-- Chris Stoeltje
"Goat camp is already paying off. Thanks for all the info at camp and we will see you at lamp camp next summer."
-- Stephen, Starla and Kristin Tucker
"Thank you for such a wonderful goat camp. A wonderful experience. Wyatt learned so much and didn't want to leave!"
-- Karen Koch
"Thank you all for a wonderful goat camp. It was a great experience for everybody."
-- Maria Lugo
For more information, please contact: Dr. Shawn Ramsey, Lamb & Goat Camp Program Coordinator
Phone: 979-845-7616
Fax: 979-458-3294
Katie Fritz or Kelsey Willberg at
Phone: 979-845-7616
Fax: 979-458-3294

Sheep shearers needed in Hawaii

The Hawaii Sheep and Goat Association presents a Sheep Shearing Clinic to be held on Jan. 11 and 12, 2012.  This is a rare opportunity to learn Sheep Shearing here on the islands.  
If you own sheep, you may know that there is a shortage of Sheep Shearers.   If you are interested in learning this trade or just want to be able to shear your own sheep, this workshop is for you!
When:   Jan. 11 (Wednesday) , Noon – 5pm
             Jan. 12 (Thursday), 8:30am – 4pm
Who:  Jim Bristol, Certified Instructor and Expert Shearer from Michigan
Where:  Kahua Ranch (Kohala Mountain Road)
Cost:   $50
Contact:   Jan Dean at 775-0401 or email to reserve your space  (space is limited!)

Eating goat meat in mid-America

Cookbook cues: Goat: Meat · Milk · Cheese by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

The Daily
Madison, Wisconsin
When deciding what to cook for dinner on any given night, "goat," for most of us, is likely the one of the last ideas to come to mind. Goat meat is on the rise in Madison restaurants, but it's still largely absent from home kitchens. Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, authors of a plethora of cookbooks and the blog Real Food Has Curves, are out to change that in their recent cookbook,Goat: Meat · Milk · Cheese (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $30).
In the preface, Weinstein and Scarbrough explain how goat meat hasn't yet fallen into the "tastes like chicken" category because "nobody has morphed the DNA of goats so that they have breasts so big they can't walk (hello, chickens), or hooves so weak they are prone to rot (hello, cows)." In fact, no hormones and only a few antibiotics have been approved for goat production in the Unites States. In other words, this stuff is pure and deeply flavorful. What's more, upwards of 70% of the red meat eaten globally is goat. All said, we are only left to wonder why the heck we hadn't thought to cook with goat meat and dairy until now.
The authors effectively deconstruct the illusive goat into three easy-to-grasp sections: meat, milk and yogurt, and cheese. Those sections are broken down further into familiar categories like "hunks," "chunks," "moles," and "curries" in the meat section. The recipes are interlaced with anecdotes that add a level of fun to what is some pretty serious cooking, and give valuable insight to everything from goat farming to the intricate art of goat cheese-making.
The "meat" recipes range from simple (chili) to complex (the seven-hour leg), and from familiar (burgers) to foreign (dopiaza -- think of really fancy French onion soup). The first recipe I tried, however, was from the "cheese and yogurt" section. The directions for corn pudding were easy to follow, and in no time I had myself a rich, cheesy corn casserole made with goat milk, soft goat cheese and hard goat cheese. The tanginess of the goat products added an enjoyable dimension to what would otherwise have been a pretty ordinary dish. The goat cheese cheesecake recipe was also easy to follow; however, those who consumed it didn't realize it was made with goat cheese until they were told.
Overall, this is a great guide for those who are ready to embrace these up-and-coming ingredients. If you're low on time, money or sense of adventure, though, you may be best off simply finding a fresh baguette and giving it a generous smear of soft chevre. Perfection.
Don't know where to get your goat meat? Weinstein and Scarbrough provide a list of US farms. The most local they list,Shepard Song Farm , is in Downing, Wisconsin. Other local purveyors include Black Earth Meats in Black Earth, Greek Acres Farm in Cambria and Ruegsegger Farms in Blanchardville.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Elite Kiko buck sale May 19 in Missouri

The National Kiko Registry continues “thinking outside the fence” while developing 
plans for its 2012 Spotlight Auction, scheduled for May 19 in Springfield, Mo. The sale is part of the NKR-sponsored Ozark Empire Goat Conference that will be held May 18-19, 2012, at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds. 

First off, the bucks will have their own sale to be held at 1 p.m. The sale will be limited to 10 head with a maximum age of two-years-old by sale day. Billed as the NKR Elite Kiko Buck Sale, this sale will be the first auction of its kind in the history of the U.S. meat goat industry. Producers will have the opportunity to offer 10 of the best representatives of the Kiko breed in a high-profile, highly promoted arena with these top herdsires going to the highest bidders. Nominees must be of the highest quality, free of defects and health issues. Photos of the 10 nominees, their pedigrees, accomplishments and owners will be featured on the NKR website as well as in other national advertising. These bucks will be DNA-tested and NKR-registered. 

Immediately following the buck sale will be the Spotlight Auction, a doe-only sale that will feature approximatey 110 NKR-registered New Zealand, purebred and 
percentage/GeneMasterTM does. Buyers can purchase the buck they want then put together the does of their choice for a perfect foundation herd or addition to their current breeding program.  

Here is the link for sale information and rules:

Here is the link for more information on the conference:

To learn more about the National Kiko Registry, visit

For more information, contact Ron Polette at 314-808-7664 or