They’re small, social, easy to handle, and some would argue, cute. They can provide you with meat, milk and clothing, or you can show them, play with them or even put them to work for you. All they ask in return is some shelter from the elements and plenty of weeds to eat. Yes, weeds!
These hard working, hearty and versatile animals are goats! And while they’re the most popular red meat in the rest of the world, Americans are discovering that these small ruminants can be exploited in myriad ways beyond just meat to bring added value to under-utilized and otherwise unusable land. In tough economic times, that can put money in your pocket.
It’s been said there’s money in goats. But it takes more than just buying a herd to make it work. Raising goats efficiently and economically used to mean years of trial and error, reading books, traveling great distances to seminars and finding successful breeders and producers with the time and inclination to pass along their wisdom.
Until now. The Southern Virginia Meat Goat Association (SVMGA) located in Halifax County is sponsoring the first annual Goats Galore Field Day and breeding stock sale on Saturday, September, 15 at the Halifax County Agricultural Marketing Center, 1001 Farmway Lane, Scottsburg, VA from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Pre-registration by e-mailing SVMGA1@gmail.com or calling 434-476-3066 is preferred, but not required. Last-minute attendees are welcome.
Goats Galore Field Day is the first of its kind, soup-to-nuts goat-specific event in the region designed to answer any and all questions about buying and owning goats. It could be an invaluable asset to anyone thinking of raising goats, as well as current producers who want to learn more about turning weeds into money.
Goats Galore will feature:
- Goat buying advice and a breeding stock sale where you can pick up quality herd stock.
- A Producers Panel where some of the most successful local producers will impart wisdom and answer all your questions about profitable goat production.
- Lectures by Va. Tech’s Dr. Kevin Pelzer and N.C. State’s Dr. Jeannette Moore on herd health and nutrition.
- A herding dog demo by Richard Whorton that is guaranteed to educate, amaze and entertain.
- A demonstration by goat Judge Elizabeth Riley on the ins and outs of showing goats in 4H or county livestock shows.
- A hands-on milking display where adults and children can learn how to milk a goat.
- Dairy Corner, where you can get info on raising dairy goats as well as sample goat cheese and purchase goat milk soap.
- Samples of meat goat chili for those who have never tasted the world’s most popular meat.
- Vendors and concessions to fuel your hunger for Amish treats as well as farm supplies.
Check SVMGA.org for a schedule of events.
Goats thrive in areas unsuited for, or under-utilized by, other livestock. Halifax County goat producers Leslie and Alan Keck of Soleil Farm, use a small herd of meat goats to slowly clear uneven cut-over that can’t be used for regular pasture or crops.
“The goats thrive on what the horses won’t eat and land we can’t use for anything else,” Alan Keck said.
Soleil Farm’s goats gladly clear blackberry vine, pokeberry, poison ivy, honeysuckle, lespedeza (Japanese clover) and many other invasive species as though they were eating candy.
“We even graze the goats for a few days behind the horses in each of our three horse pastures,” Keck said. “The goats eat-down the weeds the horses won’t touch while naturally fertilizing the ground. The symbiosis of horses and goats eating on the same land keeps down parasites for both and allows us to reclaim once tobacco-depleted land without chemical herbicides or fertilizers.”
Goats aren’t for everyone, but can be a value-added commodity for rural land of almost any size. If you’re thinking of raising goats, or want to know how to use your goats more effectively, Goats Galore Field day is the must-attend, one-of-a-kind event of the year.