Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sheep and Goats On The Radar....

During the last few weeks Nicole and I have had conversations about sheep and goat breeds. In order for us to be sustainable, creating a meat source and a milk source are imperative. We would offer this over time to our CSA program, allowing customers to pick and choose options as needed. This will further expand our offerings and give us much more diversity.

Picture Source:http://www.ansi.okstate.edu

The biggest problem with sheep in a natural, southern environment is parasite management. We are looking at two breeds that have traditionally done well in hot, humid areas - The Katahdin and Barbados Blackbelly sheep. Both are good meat breeds and are haired sheep with coats that require little management.

                                      Picture Source: http://uvalde.tamu.edu                                       

Having been on a few farms in Georgia over the last year that has Katahdin sheep, the one recurring problem seems to be parasites. Nature's Harmony Farm had a blog post about it, maybe a year ago, that they had lost several sheep in the heard due to parasites and that the ones that survived would seemingly be the more resistant therefore leading to a stronger, more resistant overall flock. With us, de-worming and antibiotics are out of the question. If we need to treat a problem, it will be a holistic approach. So enter in the Barbados Blackbelly sheep to the equation. From everything I have read and heard, Barbados Blackbelly sheep are even better at parasite resistance than the Katahdin though not as good at weight gain. Crossing the two and getting a flock that would have the qualities of both would be ideal. The fun will be in the challenge of producing a breed that works for us..


The one thing that always comes to mind when thinking about goats is containment, first and foremost. How do you keep the Houdini of the animal world fenced in and still be able to rotate their pasture? That is something we will be thinking about long and hard over the next few weeks.

We are looking at two different goat breeds for milk production and demeanor - the Nubian and Alpine. We will probably start with two does and one buck. This should give us a good starter flock and soften the learning curve just a bit. Learning the whole milking process from sanitation to milk storage will be another step to sustainability and one less thing we will need to buy from the grocery store.

Producing high quality milk that our customers will enjoy will be one of our top priorities. This will be something that would be included in a CSA down the road and would include some value added milk products such as yogurt, butter and cheese. I love the idea of having goats’ milk butter. Very healthy! So many options, just takes some time to learn.

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