The Lucky Boys

20130507-IMG_9615Every spring kids are born.  Every spring I have to deal with the issue of what to do with the bucklings.  This is an issue every dairy goat owner has to deal with and for me, having only a small number of goats, it’s emotionally pretty hard.  Obviously we can’t keep them all, we just don’t have the pasture to support pet animals.  We don’t really eat goat meat, although we’re not opposed to it, but dairy goats just aren’t that meaty.  The thought of taking them to the sale barn breaks my heart, they’re scared and would be handled roughly and I just don’t want that for them.  I’ve posted ads on craigslist before with some success, but I’m a little leery of that now too.  They have to be priced high enough to filter out those would buy and end up mistreating them, and low enough for others who might want them for pets or meat.  We toured a goat cheese dairy a while back and they dispose of most all the bucklings upon birth.  They just suffocate them as soon as they’re born.  I know this sounds harsh, but there isn’t a big market for bucklings out there, so what do you do?  I don’t think I could go that route, but it makes sense for them.

20150116-IMG_4793But I’m happy to say last year’s boys have caught a huge break and will be going to live in their own little goat paradise in another month.  Let me explain…

20131226-IMG_3773 I grew up on a dairy farm in Iowa, at a time when small farms were very diverse.  We sold milk from the 30 Holsteins we milked, farrowed sows and raised feeder pigs to sell, raised meat chickens for ourselves, and of course grew corn, beans, hay and oats.  So we always had animals around; we enjoyed them and earned an income from them.  But over time these small, diverse farms got squeezed out by factory farms.  First our pigs went, we just weren’t big enough to compete with the hog confinement operations.  Then the cows went for the same reason (and my dad’s back couldn’t take it anymore and I had grown up and moved away so there was no one to help), and as they got older my parents stopped raising chickens too.  But my dad always said a farm isn’t a farm without animals and so he kept a few steers to raise and sell every year.  That ended last year when feeder cattle got so high it didn’t make sense to buy any.  Enter the goats…

20140630-IMG_7968My parents visit every year at Thanksgiving.  They were talking about how they missed having animals,  and as I hadn’t been able to sell my wethers yet I jokingly suggested the boys would be great little animals to have on their farm and fill the animal void they have now… and they agreed!  And they said they’d be happy to have them!  And they’re coming to get them next month!  Are they lucky boys or what?  It’s been so fun hearing about all the preparations my parents are making to get ready for their new additions.  They were having a new shed built anyway, so part of that is going to be the goat shelter, and my mom wants a little patio built on the end so she can sit and watch the boys play.  They’re getting some things for them to climb on too.  So the boys will be traveling 840 miles north to live happily ever after, being spoiled rotten I”m sure by my mom.  I love happy endings.

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6 thoughts on “The Lucky Boys

  1. Happy goats and happy people. I’m glad for the happy ending. 🙂

    We raise Boer (meat) goats. We usually keep the females or place them with another farm. That is very difficult with the males of course, so they usually end up as food (after a few months of happy life tended with love). Sometimes when people hear that they are horrified and ask why we don’t raise dairy goats instead. It shows how disconnected people are from food these days. They have no idea what happens to male kids on most dairy goat farms.

    1. You are right, most people have no idea. It’s sad but part of the process, and we just have to raise them well and do the best we can by them.

  2. We’ve made the crazy decision to not only be a humane goat dairy, but a no-kill one. In a nutshell, I’ll be keeping all our boys until a suitable pet or working home is found for them. So far I have been really lucky placing them as pets with hobby farmers, but who knows how long that will last. I actually check in on them during the first year they’re gone, much like you would do with a dog rescue (which I also do). I ask for a donation to be made to my preferred goat sanctuary rather than sell them for money to me and that seems to pull in a good quality of prospective owner. Good luck with your farm and I’m so happy to read about this happy ending this year.

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