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At this year’s Spring Conference, we at OGS decided to set up a handful of volunteers with pen, paper, and the directive to go home after the event and write a post on each class they attended for us to share on the OGS Blog in a series we’re calling the Conference Blog!

In this series, we bring together the diverse perspectives of our audience and hear experiences from dozens of different voices–commercial farmers, backyard growers, conscientious consumers, and everything in between!

On a beautiful March morning, a dairy goat on Chris Owen’s farm started her morning early – around 5:30 AM! As Chris started her morning getting ready to head off to UNCA to teach at OGS, she checked in on her goats to find one ready to kid. She left a little later than expected so that she could follow her own advice – having goats is a significant commitment and you have to be there! Chris stayed for the kidding, made sure all was well with mammy and baby, and still started her class on time!!

The Owen family started with dairy goats in 1999 as part of a 4H project. She had wanted dairy goats for some time, but sometimes life gets in the way, so 1999 was the beginning of her journey into the world of goats. Her son received a doeling as part of a 4H trade where you receive a doeling, raise it, then pass on one of its doelings to a
fellow 4Her. !

If you are looking to get into goats, you probably know many reasons why, but you should also know they require a level of commitment, a high level of maintenance to be healthy and productive, and they do not thrive on benign neglect. And, when it comes time to choose a goat, get to know the breeds! Each breed has different milk, different production, and different temperament. Choose the breed based on what you like – what makes you happy!!

It is important when raising goats to understand what they need. They must be dewormed! Although some have had success with herbal dewormers, Chris is wary of them. It is important to not let a goat’s worm load get out of control and that can happen quickly and kill a goat. Certain chemical dewormers are very effective and can save a goat’s life! Also, fencing is important – both for the goats’ health and safety and for your relationship with your neighbor. Avoid anything labeled for sheep or goats – it is not going to be good for either animal. Finally, remember, bucks are not pets! They get stinky in the fall (so stinky that Chris won’t do farm tours in the fall), can be aggressive, and will try to mate with anything standing still!!

Jenn Cloke

Author: Jenn Cloke

Jenn Cloke, originally from Atlanta, has lived in Western North Carolina for since 2006 and wears her Appalachian mantle proudly. Jenn was the Communications Coordinator for Organic Growers School from 2012 to 2014. She and her family run a small farm at the foot of Cold Mountain.

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