Weddings and other Events at Khimaira Farm!
Excerpts in part from The Whole Goat Catalog
- by Linda S. Campbell ©1981.
Historians tell us that the goat may very well
have been one of the first animals ever to be domesticated, even before the dog, according
to some historians. The goat is extremely social and responds well to human
attention. Unfortunately, many misconceptions exist concerning the goat. Some
have heard that all goats have an offensive odor. This misconception stems from the
"musky" odor of the buck during breeding season (much like a buck deer).
The doe certainly has no offensive odor. The doe is a very clean animal, and like
the buck, she is quite fastidious in her eating habits. Dirty food is readily rejected,
unless the goat is near starvation. The goat's curiosity may entice it to sample the
paper from a can (the source of yet another misconception), but surely will not EAT the
CAN! After all, paper is nothing more than processed wood fiber, which is often a
natural portion of the goat's diet in the form of browse from trees and shrubs.
Not only can a goat produce substantial quantities of milk (which in itself offers a tremendously varied list of products), but it can offer so much more. Goats are an excellent source of meat (chevon). The protein is higher than most other meats, and the fat content is lower than beef or pork. It is lean and tasty and may be prepared in numerous ways. Many persons, who for religious or other reasons restrain from consuming other meats, depend heavily on goat meat. The milk-fed kids bring premium prices at Easter and other special markets. Although at present, chevon appears only on menus of select eating establishments, the potential for a larger commercial usage is being explored. On a worldwide basis, goat meat is considered an important food source, with high consumption rates for many cultures.
Goats are also valued for their excellent skins. For instance, millions of dry goat skins are used in the United States and around the world.
Fiber has also been of importance. The Angora and breeds selected for cashmere production have been bred for their coats, which provide the mohair/cashmere for use in a wide range of products worldwide. The current trend toward usage of natural fibers has stimulated an renewed interest especially in the hand spinning market.
Another important aspect of goatkeeping is the production of manure, which can be very beneficial to the gardener or farmer. An average animal can produce over a ton within a year's time. As the feces are in pellet form, they can be easily collected and distributed. As a fertilizer, goat manure is a good source of nitrogen, phosphate, potash, and other minerals depending upon the diet fed. In some countries, goats used for commercial dairies also provide substantial income in sale of composted manure products.
Not only are goats valued for what they produce, they can also be used for clearing brush, when properly managed. Large counties and cities are finding that "hiring" a herd of goats to clear unwanted vegetation can be both cost effective as well as environmentally much more acceptable. A reduction in the use of herbicides has an economic as well as health-concern benefit. State and National Parks are using goats to clear hiking paths. They can quickly eliminate undergrowth and can reach head high to create an ideal walkway for hikers.
Also, goats can even offer a source of transportation! Wethers (castrated males) are sometimes taught to pull carts, and thereby assist with farm chores. Years ago, young children and goat carts were a fairly common sight. We're seeing that return today.
The pack goat industry is also growing steadily. Goats are ideal for carrying supplies, and can handle any terrain with great agility. They also offer a much less invasive impact on the environment than horses or mules. .
Although it is difficult to determine the actual number of goats around the world, here is a statistic from 1977 (we're attempting to gather more current information). The world population of goats was estimated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to be around 410 million. They also projected the number to reach over 920 million by now. This compares to 205 million dairy cows in the same year. On a worldwide basis, statistics report that more of the "milk drinking population" drink goat milk than cow milk.
As more people are realizing the benefits of owning goats, we shall continue to see a rise in numbers. We feel there will continue to be increases in small backyard herds, as well as commercial dairies. The small farmstead owners realize the economics of having a dairy goat for home milk and meat supply (with the side dividend of fertilizer). The commercial dairies are striving to meet the continuing demand for goat milk products. The commercial meat operations are increasing quickly.
The U.S. goat genetics are in demand worldwide. Export sales continue to grow, as other countries seek to develop the goat industry. The U.S. provides high quality dairy goats to buyers around the world. The American Dairy Goat Association has some 12,000 members, and has averaged registering 30,000-40,000 goats a year the past 10 years. It has been estimated that this is a fraction of the total goats born each year in the U.S. alone.
In summary, the goat is unique, fascinating,
resourceful, hardy, intelligent, inquisitive, entertaining, sociable and extremely
useful! In view of the current state of the world economy and concern for healthy
foods, it seems that the small ruminants, sheep and goats, have a great deal to
offer mankind in the years ahead. We must, however, plan now and more completely
research the nutritional needs of goats and also the nutrition of the food products they
offer. We must interest researchers and technologists in studying the goat
and its products.
Goats also must be properly managed so there must continue to be research into diseases
and related health care. We believe that the goat will offer a valuable contribution
to mankind in the years to come. The general public must be educated, and goat
owners must accept this challenge.
So, a goat can offer all of these things in addition to being a good companion and family pet. These are some of the reasons why I feel so strongly about promoting that delightful creature, the goat!
Linda S. Campbell