Sunday, January 29, 2012

Plot Development Starts, Part 3 - Goats

Every farms needs employees, particularly farm operations that are starting from scratch. The biggest challenge is to clear, and keep clear, land. However, not every farm can afford employees. Baker Heritage Farms has looked at alternatives to paid employees - Goats.

Goats will initially be purchased to assist in clearing land, specifically hilly, rocky land that is covered in vines, brush, and other unwanted vegetation. For the first year, these goats will be purchased in spring and sold in fall to avoid feed expense during the winter months when vegetation is dormant. If successful, Baker Heritage Farms plans to raise goats for a number of purposes, including leasing goat operations out to others to clear land, as well as for meat production. And yes, their litter will also be used for composting (though there does not appear to be much nutritional value in the litter for plants, it is still good for composting).

Our initial breed choice is Spanish Goats.

The Spanish Goat is a local variety of domesticated animal, which has developed largely by natural processes, and varies in appearance. The goats range from 50 - 200 pounds, with the largest animals representing strains that have been selected for meat production. They are usually horned, and the ears are large, held horizontally and forward next to the head. There are relatively few purebred Spanish goats in the United States. One obstacle is that the term "Spanish goats" is also used to describe crossbred and nondescript goats of the southwest. In the southeast, Spanish goats are also called brush, woods, and scrub goats, and these terms may include both purebred and crossbred animals.

Baker Heritage Farms has chosen Spanish goats because they are hardy and rugged, thrive on rough forage and in difficult environments, and are not known to contract common diseases other goats contract. The Spanish goat is a conservation priority in the United States.

The initial goat pen will be approximately 120 feet by 260 feet (approximately 3/4 acre) and will be located to the east of the main house. This land is not currently a long-term use plan for this area at this time. There is expansion room to the south of the main house, as well as on other areas of the main property. Initial plans call for four goats to be purchased in spring 2012. Fencing will be erected and a loafing shed built prior to acquisition.

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