Monday, September 30, 2013

Goats head straight for kudzu

Tryon (N.C.) Daily BulletinPublished 11:26pm Sunday, September 29, 2013
Chemical-free kudzu removal by human labor, is effective, but time-consuming. When volunteers at Saluda Community Land Trust wanted better efficiency, and more time for other projects, it was time to call in the goats.

And they did, with 18 of the weed-eating critters temporarily feasting on kudzu and other undergrowth near Saluda’s water treatment plant on Pearson Falls Road.

Ron Searcy’s goats are in great demand for such assignments. Searcy, who owns Wells Farm in Horse Shoe, west of Hendersonville, has some 300 goats, which he rents out for natural management of unwanted plant growth.

“This is a dream come true,” exclaimed SCLT board member Nora Parks Anderson. Anderson’s joy stemmed at least partly from the animals targeting the culprit quickly.
“They went straight to the kudzu first,” she reported.

SCLT board members have waited a long time for the goats’ heralded arrival. The four-legged weed-eaters made it to Saluda Monday, Sept. 16. They’ll be at the water treatment plant for about 10 days, returning to the site three more times over two years.

Anderson has been thinking about goats and weed control since she became aware of such practices some 15-20 years ago.

Though SCLT board members have employed human labor to control kudzu on small sites, larger sites require more aggressive action.

“Some of our sites were very large – acres,” said Anderson. “Our goal was to see all the different methods that were out there.”

Enter the goats. SCLT has partnered with Saluda City officials to bring the critters to the water treatment site. In addition, the Polk County Community Foundation has provided a grant to cover much of the expense.

To keep the goats where they’re most needed, Searcy created an enclosure of electric fence. Also within the fence is Samantha, a large dog, easy going toward humans, but on hand to keep potentially harmful animals out of the enclosure.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Milwaukee nature center hires goats for cleanup job

MILWAUKEE - Schlitz Audubon Nature Center has temporarily welcomed a herd of 90 goats to the center’s 185 acres.
When goats are placed on a small acreage in high numbers, they cause a feeding frenzy. They'll chomp on invasive species like Buckthorn and Honeysuckle. The reason they're invasive is because ecologists describe them a lot like weeds - they grow quicker, higher and wider than native flowers and deter birds from nesting there.
“Goats are very hungry critters and they are here feeding on invasive plans, like buckthorn which for us is public enemy number one around here,” said Nathan Smallwood, director of the nature center. “It’s a plant that doesn’t belong and can spread like wildfire. So they are here helping us clear that out to help us restore those properties to the kinds of habitats that actually belong here.”

With invasive woody shrubs, depending on the age class and height at the time of initial grazing, it can take multiple grazing episodes over two to five years to exhaust the root supply and ultimately kill it.
Still, Audubon's groundskeepers say it's cheaper and more environmentally friendly than other options, like using lawn mowers.
The goats will be at the center for around 10 days. The public can visit the goats, but Smallwood said it’s not a petting zoo opportunity.
If you are planning a visit to hike the trails and observe the goats, please stop by the front desk for up-to-date information on the goats.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Meat goat program Oct. 4 in Bastrop County, Texas

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service of Bastrop County is hosting an educational program for Meat Goat producers Oct. 4 at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church Parish Hall at Rockne. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m., with the program beginning at 9 a.m.
Dr. Rick Machen, extension livestock specialist, will present the program on meat goat management, herd health, feeding and nutrition. A representative from Seguin Livestock Auction will discuss marketing goats and kids. A goat fencing demonstration will be given by Randy Lenz of Stay Tuff Fencing.
Cost of the program is $20 per person if paid by Oct. 2, which includes lunch and handouts (make check or money order payable to Bastrop Ag. Demonstration Fund - no cash, please). Late registration is $30 at the door.
The Sacred Heart Parish Hall is located at 4045 FM 535 in Rockne. One hour of CEU credit will be offered in the general category to pesticide applicators. Please bring a lawn chair with you if you need a seat during the fencing demonstration, which will be held outdoors. Call the Bastrop County Extension Office at 512-581-7186 for more information.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Performance-tested bucks sell in Virginia

Three of the fourteen top-performing bucks sold for more than $1,000 at the Mid-Atlantic Small Ruminant Extravaganza, held September 21 in Chatham, Virginia. A fourth buck brought $950.

John Weber's top-gaining buck brought $1350.

The top-selling buck was the top-gaining buck consigned by John Weber from Illinois. It brought $1350. Weber also had the second high-selling buck. It brought $1200.

The top-performing buck consigned by Sam Burke from Delaware sold for $1100. John Smith sold his top-performing buck for $950.

Click here to read more.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sheep and goat workshop in Mo. on Sept. 28

Sheep and Goats on Small Acreage
Saturday, September 28
10:00 AM to 12:00 noon
(9:30 registration)
Mai and Tou Her Farm, 26175 Redbud Road, Stella, MO
(north on Hwy O for 1 mi, then right on Redbud 1 mi to farm)
¨     View hair sheep on small acreage; questions
¨     Getting started with sheep and goats
¨     Fencing and facilities for sheep and goats
¨     Forages and soil testing with sheep and goats
¨     Youth activities, bring the family

Jodie A. Pennington, Ph.D.
Region Small Ruminant Educator, Lincoln University
Newton County Extension Center
Smith Hall (Crowder College), 601 Laclede Avenue
Neosho, MO 64850-9165
1-417-455-9500; fax 417-455-9505

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Entry deadlines near for North American International Livestock Expo

September 18, 2013 … Louisville, Kentucky… The first entry deadline for the 40th annual North American International Livestock Exposition is midnight on Friday, September 20. That is the date for regular entry in the NAILE Dairy Cattle and Dairy Goat Divisions.

Deadlines for other shows/show divisions are:
·        October 1 - Junior Swine Show, Sheep Division, Beef Cattle Division, Junior Wether Goat Show and Boer Goat Show
·        October 10 – Dairy Division Late Entry (with additional late fee)
·        October 21 – Quarter Horse Show (post entries are accepted with late charge)
·        October 25 – Dairy Division Extra Late Entry (with additional extra late fee, and entries must be in the NAILE office by the 25th, not just postmarked by that date)
·        October 28 – Draft Horse Show

Entries are accepted by mail (entry deadline is postmark date except where noted), by fax (502-367-5299) and online at Entry forms and other exhibitor information are available on the website. Online entry is not available for the Quarter Horse Show and Draft Horse Show. The show office is available to answer entry questions. The phone number is 502-595-3166.

The NAILE is produced by the Commonwealth of Kentucky at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky under the direction of the Kentucky State Fair Board. During the Expo’s two-week run, November 9-22, 2013, the facility’s entire 1,200,000 square feet of climate-controlled exhibit space is used. More than 200,000 visitors and exhibitors attend the event annually and there were in excess of 26,000 entries in the event in 2012, a new show record.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mid-Missouri browsing academy Oct. 7-8

The Mid-Missouri Browsing Academy will be held Oct. 7-8 at Lincoln University’s Alan T. Busby Farm in Jefferson City, Mo.

This is a  detailed, educational, hands-on, two-day seminar featuring: Mark Kennedy, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Grazing Lands Specialist; Dr. An Peischel, Tennessee State University Extension; and Dr. Dusty Walter, University of Missouri, Director of Natural Resources Management.

This workshop is based on the California and Tennessee browsing academies. A number of topics will be covered including low stress livestock handling, brush ecology and management, nutrition, reproduction, herd health, timber management, fencing and business management.

Attendees will receive hands-on training and gain advanced information on land enhancement using goats to control invasive vegetation.

The cost for the workshop is $75 per person. Preregistration with payment is required. Registration is limited to the first 20 participants. The registration fee covers the cost of many items that will be provided such as: meals, a flash drive containing a “Small Ruminant Toolbox,” a goat management wheel, Famacha© training and card, and a noteboook that contains numerous reference materials.

The registration deadline is Tuesday, Oct. 1. No walk-in registration. For more information or scholarships, contact: Vonna Kesel at 573-681-5312 or e-mail KeselV@LincolnU.ed

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Demand for goat meat growing

Self-sufficient farming, an increase in ethnic population and a health conscious public increase potential for meat goat industry

By Riley Collins and Brenda Reau
Michigan State University Extension

Goat is the most highly consumed meat in the world and interest is increasing in goat meat consumption in the United States. Goats slaughtered in USDA-inspected plants and goat meat imported to the U.S. has steadily increased since 1999. The increase in ethnic populations and health conscious Americans has contributed to this development.
With strengthening producer education and the marketing structure, goat meat is a great opportunity for small farm producers to diversify their farm products. Many Americans are trying to be self-sufficient. For situations when resources are limited, a small herd of goats may be a good option for a small, part-time farmer to raise to achieve self-sufficiency.
Goats are also becoming a more popular option because they are very versatile. They adapt well to hot environments and their foraging preference encompasses a wider spectrum of plants compared to other ruminants. Because they are “nonselective browsers” and eat brush and less desirable plants, goats can help maximize use of marginal pastureland that other livestock — such as cattle and sheep — graze on. Goats can utilize what other animals do not and still produce a quality product.
Another benefit of goats is their meat. The U.S. is becoming more conscious of what they eat now more than ever. Goat is lean, high in iron and high in vitamin B12. These health benefits are increasing the public interest in goat meat beyond traditional ethnic populations.
Marketing options can include: direct marketing off the farm, supplying specialty markets like holiday sales and ethnic populations or commercial marketing firms. The current market is direct marketing to ethnic groups but there are two other potential niche markets for goat meat. These consist of targeting the health conscious consumers wanting low fat diets and targeting the restaurant trade serving ethnic or gourmet foods. These markets are largely untapped and can provide real opportunities for goat producers, especially local producers.
The challenges that this industry has encountered are consumer education, producer education, lack of slaughter facilities and processing plants and the lack of organized markets and marketing channels. The most important factor in the growth of this industry is marketing.
Michigan Specialty Meats Cooperative ( is an organization that is participating in the meat goat industry. This cooperative is dedicated to supplying specialty meats from across the state of Michigan. Their products are beginning to be sold in specialty meat stores and restaurants.
The Michigan State University Product Center ( is working with the cooperative to help it in developing the cooperative to market goat meat in Michigan.
The Michigan State University Product Center has innovation counselors located in Michigan State University Extension offices across the state that can assist goat producers in developing and marketing value-added products. For more information, visit or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Oklahoma State launches new meat goat website

 ADA, Okla. – The latest research-based information about meat goat production has gone digital, thanks to a new website provided through Oklahoma State University’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. 

“We wanted to make it as easy as possible for producers to have access to up-to-date information by which they can make the best possible operational decisions,” said JJ Jones, OSU Cooperative Extension area agricultural economics specialist for the state’s Southeast District. “Think of it as one-stop shopping.”

The website can be accessed online at, and includes the following materials:

● Oklahoma Basic Meat Goat Manual: This is a 15-chapter manual that covers such topics as herd health, nutrition, goat selection, breeding, kidding, marketing, forages for goats, fencing, housing, corrals, predator control and general herd management. Digital copies of all chapters of the manual are available for download or hardcopy printing.

● Educational videos: Thanks to a grant from the Southern Region Risk Management Center, educational presentations have been recorded and uploaded. There are 25 video presentations covering a wide range of topics, from basic management tools such as ear tagging, hoof trimming, castrating and aging to marketing, business planning, forage production, nutrition and parasite control, among others. Links to these videos are available through the website or via YouTube.

● Oklahoma Meat Goat Boot Camp – OSU delivers a three-day annual workshop that delivers almost 40 hours of educational programming employing a mixture of hands-on presentations, classroom exercises and PowerPoint presentations. The website contains information about the boot camp and how to attend.

“We’ve also created a meat goat Facebook page,” Jones said. “It’s yet another easy way for producers to find out the latest information about OSU Cooperative Extension educational programs, presentations and marketing aspects relative to raising meat goats. Just search for OSU Meat Goat to find the Facebook page.”

Oklahoma is currently the nation’s fourth-largest meat goat producing state with 91,000 animals, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics. Historic levels of drought in recent years have played a significant role in reducing the number of meat goats in Oklahoma from its high of 115,000 animals in 2008.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cover crops can fix farms forever

Does David Brandt hold the secret for turning industrial agriculture from global-warming problem to carbon solution?

Mother Earth News
| Mon Sep. 9, 2013 3:00 AM PDT
David Brandt
CHATTING WITH DAVID BRANDT outside his barn on a sunny June morning, I wonder if he doesn't look too much like a farmer—what a casting director might call "too on the nose." He's a beefy man in bib overalls, a plaid shirt, and well-worn boots, with short, gray-streaked hair peeking out from a trucker hat over a round, unlined face ruddy from the sun.

Brandt farms 1,200 acres in the central Ohio village of Carroll, pop. 524. This is the domain of industrial-scale agriculture—a vast expanse of corn and soybean fields broken up only by the sprawl creeping in from Columbus. Brandt, 66, raised his kids on this farm after taking it over from his grandfather. Yet he sounds not so much like a subject of King Corn as, say, one of the organics geeks I work with on my own farm in North Carolina. In his g-droppin' Midwestern monotone, he's telling me about his cover crops—fall plantings that blanket the ground in winter and are allowed to rot in place come spring, a practice as eyebrow-raising in corn country as holding a naked yoga class in the pasture. The plot I can see looks just about identical to the carpet of corn that stretches from eastern Ohio to western Nebraska. But last winter it would have looked very different: While the neighbors' fields lay fallow, Brandt's teemed with a mix of as many as 14 different plant species. Click here to read more.