HOME GROWN: Neighbours share their love of dairy goats
WHEN YOU think milk, you normally think of a dairy cow. But what about goats?
In this edition of The Homegrown Series, The Morning Bulletin took a trip to not one, but two goat farms on the outskirts of Rockhampton around Glenlee.
Arriving bright and early, it was milking time for the goats at both properties.
At Desley Golightly's property, Calliandra Stud, she has 50 goats, 20 of which are little kids (baby goats).
Ms Golightly hand milks 10 goats in the morning and 12 at night. Two does (female goats) are a bit older and only need milking once a day.
With Toggenburg and British Alpine Dairy breed goats, the does produce three litres or more a day. One doe in particular is producing six litres at the moment.
The milk is kept for personal use.
"We feed it back to the babies... drink it ourselves... dabble around with making cheese... occasionally get poddy calves to give the excess milk to... the dogs are in very good condition,” Ms Golightly said.
Personally, Ms Golightly said goat's milk tastes no different to cow's milk.
She says it tastes best when it is fresh.
"I think the tastes change once you go through the factory process and it's been pasteurised,” she said.
While it can be fairly limiting, needing to be home morning and night to milk the goats, Ms Golightly says it is a lifestyle choice and she wouldn't have it any other way.
"You can go away, it just takes a bit of planning and organising a farm sitter or someone to help with the animals while you are away... which is really no different than when you have dogs and you have to organise a pet sitter or put them in a kennel, there is just more of them,” she said.
"Everyone has some sort of thing or hobby they are into.. and this is what I like spending my money on.”
If the goats aren't milked, they can get extremely sore udders and develop conditions such as mastitis, which can be very damaging and make them very sick.
"They do require care... a lot of people just buy goats and chuck them out the back and think that's it but ... they need to be looked after.... the same as every other animal,” she said.
Ms Golightly first began breeding goats in 2007.
She had always wanted goats and when she bought acreages some years ago, she opted for goats instead of cattle.
"I have always liked goats, when I was a child I had a friend who's parents bred goats and we used to spend a lot of time playing with them as kids,” she said.
In Central Queensland, Ms Golightly said she often gets some "weird looks” because it is predominantly a horse and cattle region.
Ms Golightly and her fellow neighbour and goat breeder, Kylie Hopkins spend a lot of time doing displays at shows and farming events.
CQ DAIRY GOATS:
Find them on Facebook:
- Desley Golightly: Calliandra Dairy Goats
- Kylie Hopkins: Datadoo Anglo Nubians
- Join: Capricorn Goat Breeders group
"Just getting the word about goats out there....people come over and they can pat the goats, the kids can get up close with them because they are really quite friendly animals,” she said.
"People are quite surprised at how easy they are to handle...they are a good quality livestock animal.
"I think they are very underrated.”
Down the road on Belmont Road, is Kylie Hopkins and her partner, Leo Thompson's, Datadoo Anglo Nubian Stud.
Their stud has 35 adults and some fresh kids that were only born some days ago.
But the new kids are an exciting addition with personally selected elite American genetics.
A couple of years ago, the couple were looking at improving their breeding qualities and imported semen from an American Anglo Newbian buck (male goat).
The whole process was lengthy, taking 12 months to find the animal, have them tested, quarantine and then eventually, getting the semen collected.
Ms Hopkins then learnt how to perform artificial insemination (AI) to insert the American semen into her goats.
Performing AI on goats is a lot harder than cattle as they are much smaller but she learnt by practising on other animals, watching other breeders and watching YouTube videos.
The first year, her strike rate was 20 per cent for conception but this year as she gathered practice, it was a 60 per cent strike rate.
In looking for stronger genetics, they looked at improving the udder of the goats in terms of the attachment, ligaments and size of teats and to help with the animal's milk production.
"We've got some of those first daughters from the AI in the dairy now and they are everything we hoped they would be,” Ms Hopkins said.
"It is exciting as well, we knew the animals we would get would have the improvements we were looking for but still do all the same great things our goats already had.
"As a whole they really kept the good stuff we already had, we already had good feet and legs in our goats, good body capacity.
"I know because the semen is unique, there is not many people who have it... the resulting progeny would be worth more money because of the quality of them.”
The couple have been involved with the dairy goats for just over 10 years.
At first it was Leo's idea to get the goats but given he works away most of the time, Ms Hopkins is left with all the work.
"I had to learn how to help them birth, what to feed, how to milk them.... lots of talking with other breeders and reading books,” she said.
And it has worked out very well. The stud goats are scored each year for their structure (teats, legs, length of rump), with their annual review last week.
They were scored "excellent” of which very few across the country are handed out.
"The dairy goats do well living in Central Queensland. The biggest issue is parasites,” Ms Hopkins said.
"The animals are very susceptible to worms and other external itching and biting insects.”
"It is warm and the rainfall is high, things like worms are a bigger problem here than what they are in say Longreach,” she said.
A common misconception is that goats eat everything, according to Ms Hopkins they in fact are "incredibly fussy” - even with their water, especially if they are in town for shows and the water has too much chlorine.
A good diet is also important if you are milking them.
"If you are going to be milking them, you need to give them a really good energy and protein source in so it comes out the other end,” she said.
Sharing their gained knowledge with others, Ms Hopkins and Ms Golightly created a group "Capricorn Goat Breeders”.
"We realised that there were heaps of people in the area that had goats and they don t know who to ask for when they need help caring for them... trim feet dehorn them, best vets in the area,” Ms Hopkins said.