My love and respect for animals has, and will continue to be, the foundation for my practices and the reason I work extra hard to give these creatures the best lives possible. All of my goats have big personalities and I consider them to be members of my family.
My herd is a mixture of Boer, Nubian and the Antiguan Creole goat (a mixture of breeds imported in to Antigua over the years). The Boer is the most common goat in Antigua and despite being a meat goat has a very high percentage of butterfat in their milk. I am working on strengthening the Nubian bloodlines in the herd but I have bred some lovely milk goats on the farm with great milking qualities by crossing Boer with Nubian.
I am very fortunate here to be surrounded by a vast wooded area, which makes for perfect browsing for the goats. The majority of the goats are left to roam freely for the most of the day, playing amongst the trees and eating whatever is in reach; returning to their pen willingly each night to be locked in.
While in milking season, the dairy girls will spend most of the day in the paddock where I can control their feed intake a little better. I do not cut out browsing completely at any time; they feed the best while left to their own devices and I believe the free time they have to just be goats is imperative to their health and happiness and of course to the great tasting milk they provide me with. Hay in Antigua is generally poor quality or unavailable, while imported Alfalfa and Timothy hay is incredibly expensive, so the girls are fed with their favourite, naturally grown greens sourced fresh each day, this includes Wild Tamarind and Guinea grass which are high protein plants commonly seen in Antigua. I also work with my non-GMO, local farmers who provide me with much of their farm waste for the goats. Their favourites are corn plants and potato vines. Sustainable and humane animal husbandry is very important to me and I take a special interest in sourcing high quality sustainable produce for my goats.
Any medications are given with extreme caution to milk production. My goats are on Verm-X all natural wormer, with a chemical wormer only given when necessary and with care to dump the milk for over the recommended period. I only use antibiotics for injury or illness, and again, make sure the milk is discarded for longer than the recommended period.
I do not remove the kids from their mothers. This is not typically standard practice for a goat dairy but for me personally, I believe the does deserve to know their kids and to care for them, as long as mothers and kids are healthy. Everyone is different and I respect other farms’ practices but after witnessing what a loving, family bond goats can have I don’t have the heart to unnecessarily remove them. I start milking when the kids are one month old, separating the kids and mothers for part of the day and by three months old the kids are weaned and I am milking twice a day.
My goats have been the most exciting adventure in farm life and I have high hopes and great optimism for my caprine filled future.