Is it possible to run HUMANE goat dairy?

Discussion in 'Goats' started by anigisditala, Sep 18, 2004.

  1. anigisditala

    anigisditala New Member

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    I guess the title asks it all. I would like to keep goats, sell their milk, make cheese, etc., but I do not want to cause them pain in any way or participate in the livestock auction process. I would like to advertise my dairy as humane in how the animals are treated. Is it possible to do?
     
  2. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    Welcome to the forum.

    I must admit, I'm a bit surprised at the question. Most people would be concerned about raising meat animals humanely. Dairy animals can of course be raised humanely, and often are. That said, a lot of factors make a difference.

    I grew up in the southeastern US, where pastured dairy cows are the norm. I never saw a feed lot dairy operation until we spent a year out west. That's the only thing that made me understand what you might mean...I think!

    You would have to research several things. Based on the breed of goat you wish to have, find out how much pasture each needs in your area, as it varies widely across the nation and across the globe. Find out if you need to supplement copper and selenium. Find out what your winter feed needs are, and your daily feed needs for pregnant and lactating animals.

    See if the amount of land you'd require for your operation is available...good land, with space to rotate browsing and grazing. Hopefully, already fenced for goats! See if you can buy it, unless you already have it!

    Research the state Dairy Laws, to find out what you'd need in the way of buildings, equipment, etc., then see if you can provide those.

    Actually milking the goats relieves pressure on them, takes nothing from them that you aren't replacing with a good diet, and does not harm their young, so nothing inhumane there. They learn the schedule rather quickly, and often will beat you to the barn, for food and udder relief!

    Disposition of your unneeded male kids is your biggest 'humane' obstacle as I see it (and someone will correct me if I'm overlooking something...won't you, guys?) Many people eat them, or sell them for meat. If that's not an option you wish to explore, you can wether them (castrate, by any of several methods, in case you're unfamiliar with the term, although you probably know it), then sell them as pets, as 4-H animals, to people who train pack goats, or as horse companions, to people who keep one lonely horse. Obviously, the best of the bunch can be sold as studs.

    Ah...another possible obstacle...disbudding. Disbudding causes pain to a young kid. However, those horns evolved for defense in the wild, and in domestic circumstances, are dangerous. Goats die becasue they get hung up in fences, get gored by another goat, etc. Choose which pain you prefer. You'll end up with one or the other.

    Oh, and you don't have to go near an auction to do this. You'll want to buy directly from breeders with CAE and CL free flocks!

    My two cents. Someone will be along shortly to set me straight on a point or two, and fill in any blanks I left! :D

    Meg :)
     

  3. geminigoats

    geminigoats Well-Known Member

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    Meg, Nope, no need to set you straight from my end of things. You coverd most of the issues.

    Its possible to run and operate and commercial dairy and do it in a humane fashion. When you decide to enter into raising any type of livestock, or animals, for that matter, you bring with you your ideas and own philosophy about how you want to be and raise you animals. The only problem I se is trying to do it on a large scale with very little help. The key to succesful dairies is herd management in my humble opinion. Its a tough getting started and very costly so I would suggest beginning small and slowly building as capitol permits. Have your barns and fences and milking area, etc already prepared and designed for ease of work and with animal comfort in kind. I guess thats about it in a nutshell. Hope this helps.

    Bernice
     
  4. Tana Mc

    Tana Mc Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Meg, I think that you covered it nicely and in a nut shell. The " Not cause them pain in any way" phrase strikes me ( and I could be wrong!)as terribly inexperienced with livestock. Sometimes basic livestock care and management is painful. I have neighbors that are horrified that I disbud and let their does grow magnificient sets of horns. These same does beat the ever living snot out of the younger stock and timid does. I cannot count the number of times they have asked me to look at does that have aborted their kids due to the terrific beating they took from the aggressive horned does. They have acres and acres of pasture but all their animals carry horn scars on their sides and flanks. I won't talk about the younger stock that have gotten their heads hung in the fence and made easy meals for the hordes of coyotes we have here in Kansas.
    Treating for mastitis, giving vaccinations or shots for sickness is painful but it would not be humane to allow them to suffer. Sometimes they get themselves in situations that require you to bite the bullet and do what it takes to help them. Some examples of what I am talking about is the silly yearling doe that INSISTS that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and keeps jumping over and finally got herself hung up and broke a leg that you have to set or the very stubborn doe that is determined to prune your roses and grape vines despite 4 strands of electric wire used to reinforce the 5 ft welded cattle panels you have put up to protect them. Every blessed day she tests that fence and begins crying out in pain BEFORE she touches it because she KNOWS it will hurt but she is gonna try anyway. Then there is the greedy doe that breaks into the feed room and hogs out. You have to tube her to relieve the bloat and give her treatment. Not fun or pleasant but necessary to keep her alive.
    I think that you should probably sit down and define exactly what humane and pain free means to you. Whether or not it will work is probably up to how hard you want to work at it. I rotational graze, disbud, tattoo, vaccinate, castrate, butcher, AI, sell at auction and still run a humane dairy.
    Tana Mc
     
  5. Shygal

    Shygal Unreality star Supporter

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    Tana, thanks for that information on disbudding. I was worried about whether I would be able to do it or not, because of the way they scream when you do...but you are right, the alternative is MUCH worse and much less humane.
     
  6. Vicki McGaugh TX Nubians

    Vicki McGaugh TX Nubians Well-Known Member

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    Meg's post was great!

    I will add (but of course) that everyone has their own comfort level, everyone deals with humane issues at their farms differently.

    Do you stake the goats out...in my way of thinking defiently inhumane.

    Do you take the babies away from mom....some would think this is inhumane, yet you would have no milk for sale or your own use if you do not.

    Do you disbud?

    Do you castrate your male kids, sell them for meat, or let them stay around intact breeding their little sisters? All three of those things are inhumane to most, and we all know selling into a pet market isn't happening. So how do you humanly deal with your male kids?

    Some folks think it is inhumane to milk, to breed, to keep goats in pens.

    You have to restrain animals in stanchions to milk, to trim feet, to give shots, to worm.

    What do you do with unproductive does (chronic masitis, a non-breeder, older bucks who go sterile, does who kill their kids)? If not a meat auction?

    Most deal with the inhumane issue by letting a vet deal with it while they cringe or cry in the waiting room :) Vicki
     
  7. anigisditala

    anigisditala New Member

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    I'm a vegetarion, so the butchering, meat market thing is out. As for the snide remark about people dealing with the inhumane issue by having the vet do the dirty work while they cry in the waiting room, that's a low blow, IMO. I'm humane, not a coward. I asked for information, not put downs. Why do people assume if others care about an animal's welfare that they're "fair game" for hostility. Really, it's not professional.

    I think I'll try to find an intelligent forum dedicated to animal husbandry, educated consumers and animal welfare. This forum obviously isn't what it claims to be: "Neighborly Help...."

    As for the person who stated I was new to livestock, you're wrong. I grew up in beef cattle country. I've seen the worst and I don't wish to mimic it. Also, I worked on a dairy and also saw a lot of things I prefer not to do.

    In my experience when people start to flame another person it's to justify to THEMSELVES their own practices that they're uncomfortable with.





     
  8. 65284

    65284 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Humane is a highly subjective term. Most goat keepers probably consider themselves to be humane. While most, if not all, animal rights kooks consider any use of any animal as exploitative and consider it at the very least inhumane, and much closer to evil. In order to be successful in any type of animal husbandry there are certain unpleasant things that must be done. Some of them could be construed, or misconstrued depending upon an individual's beliefs, as inhumane. You say " but I do not want to cause them pain in any way". If you sincerely, literally, mean that you can't run a dairy, if you don't mean it literally where are you willing to draw the line? The most fundamental fact of a dairy, there must be births before there is any milk. There is no doubt a certain amount of pain associated with the birth process, soooo...... if you allow a buck to breed a doe you are indirectly causing her pain. As some of the other posters have mentioned there are shots, disbudding, castrating, etc. to be considered. It is impossible to run any kind of farming/dairy operation in a totally, no pain in any way, manner. Sorry to sound disrespectful but by the nature of your question I suspect you have little to no real experience with animals, and without a change in beliefs/attitude/ideas, wouldn't do well in a livestock enterprise.
     
  9. debitaber

    debitaber Well-Known Member

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    I have goats, and I milk them . dairy goats, nubians, to be exact. they are treated very well. they run and play ,.they have toys, to jump on, and nice houses to go in to . they get fed 2 times a day, and treats. apples, chedder crackers, kool aid to drink when it is hot, and gator aid, to drink , when it is really hot. also, they get nice clean water to drink all the time, in the winter, i carry warm water to them to drink, they don;t like cold water in the winter months, so I hand carry hot water, by the time I get to the goat houses, it is the right tempature. I think you have never had animals, or been on a farm or homesteads. Most people that keep goats and animals, are like me, their animals come first, and are treated very well. My girls are milked twice a day. and I give them vitimans, and minerals. that is just the way it is.,
    If you are going to have goats, get two first. beause it is a lot of work. I love my girls, and they can be so sweet, until they go into heat, then look out, it becomes a mess. and they do come into heat. think about having 200 raging women on the place, well that is 200 female goats in heat. can you handle it. ? can you help with delivering babies, ? you have to think on your feet, if something goes wrong, you have to step in right then, other wise, it is to late, and you might loose your kids, and the doe.
    there is a lot to think about here. ndthen there is the disbudding of the horns , on the babies. it is smelly, and they cry, and it hurts them. so Like I said, there is alot to go into this.
     
  10. HilltopDaisy

    HilltopDaisy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I probably should just keep my mouth shut, but.............

    As a long-time vegetarian, I've had to find ways of incorperating farm animals into my life that cause me no guilt. My way wouldn't be your way. We're all different. I could never have any animal with the idea that it's purpose would be to make me money. Yet I couldn't imagine my life without lots of animals. I am very comfortable with my decisions. I own 3 wethers and I drink soymilk. Yes, as a "homesteader" I've fantasized about having a milkgoat, but I can't deal with all the conflicting emotions that go with it. To me, I've done what feels right to me; given a safe, loving home to 3 male goats, and I get all the snugs I could want. A win-win situation. No one but me needs to understand.

    I think the original poster is a bit defensive. It comes with the territory.
     
  11. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    It seems as though you are attempting to set yourself apart because you "care about an animal's welfare," and implying that the perhaps Vicki does not care about the welfare of her animals. The vast majority of us are on this board because we're rather obsessed with goats. I guess that probably means we care about their welfare.

    If you do manage to fine an "intelligent forum dedicated to animal husbandry, educated consumers and animal welfare" that has information that would allow you to run a goat dairy without causing the goats pain in any way, please be sure to let us know, won't you? I'm certain we'd all like to spare our animals unnecessary pain.

    The difference between not causing animals pain in any way and mimicing the worst of beef cattle country is large enough to encompass countless variations in management practice, all valid, all successful. Why don't you try to be a little reasonable (and a little realistic). Maybe then we could help.

    And great post, 65284!
     
  12. Karen

    Karen Well-Known Member Supporter

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    anigisditala, you completely misinterpreted what everyone meant. You have to understand that no one here know you. All anyone has to go on is your typewritten words. Your words "appeared" to be from someone has no experience with livestock. To encourage such a venture from someone who, it seemed as no experience at all with livestock, would be the ultimate in inhumane for a creature that these folks care about as much as they do for goats!

    I don't believe you were correct to be insulted. They gave you some very valuable information and were only trying you make you understand that what is humane to one, is not to another. They have no idea where you stand on those issues and what you personally consider to be "humane".

    It was only giving you different views of the topic that you asked about. They honest and truly were being friendly and trying to help you understand. It was not to insult you. In fact, if anyone should be insult it should be those who took the time to respond (many at length) and then, rather than having your tell them in a nice way you've been misunderstood, you slammed them. You don't go to someone's house; ask a question; then stomp your feet and say your going to go play with someone else because you didn't like the answer. That's childish. They didn't mean it nasty, condescending, nor to discourage you. It was meant to inform you and to encourage you to do some homework to get a better understanding of the process of raising goats and the dairy business. Your question was "can it be done humanely"; their answer was "yes, it can". Your post was interrupted that you knew nothing about the goats nor the dairy business; in fact, your post was almost a rather shocking question because if someone knew anything about either goats or dairy proceedures they would know the answer to that question -- which is why it appeared to be of extreme amature nature -- which is why the responses were as they were and were very appropriate based on that interpretation. If that interruptation of your question was incorrect, it is not the fault of those answering. They are only going based on the question presented; not what you "meant" it to mean or say.

    These are very good, kind, and caring people here who also happen to be top knotch in the area of caprine knowledge. You won't find better than right here anyway!
     
  13. poorme

    poorme Well-Known Member

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    it would seem that using your definition of humane, the answer would be no.
     
  14. Tana Mc

    Tana Mc Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thank you for your defence, Karen.
    I went waaaay out of my way NOT to write an insulting post even tho I felt that the original question was rather insulting to us already in the goat dairy world. I felt that she was assuming that we were all INHUMANE as a matter of course and it was a baited question. I chose to give my opinion nicely and felt that Vicki and the others who posted did too.
    If you consider honest answers (aka not the ones you wanted to hear) and opinions to be "slamming", you have really thin skin and will find yourself offended alot. Even so--- I hope that you find what you are looking for and most of all, I hope that you have wonderful experiences with goats.

    To the person who owns the wethers and drinks soy milk----- Good for you!!! You have found a way to have what you believe to be the best of both worlds. You have made your pesonal choice but appear to be willing to let the rest of us have ours as well. I can respect that.

    Good luck
    Tana Mc
     
  15. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    *laugh* I got a giggle out of using the vet to do the "inhumane" stuff. I use the husband. I am an utter wimp when it comes to injections. Really, I need to get over it, but as long as he's volunteering to do the "dirty work" I'm going to let him!
     
  16. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Your original question left room for interpretation, not only in what you meant by humane but in your level of experience. And honestly, there was no hostility in the educated replies you received. There is a lot of experience here. I am an ex-vegetarian who left that lifestyle after many many years to raise my own animals. Here's my take on a humane dairy goat farm. Humane definitely costs a lot of money.
    1) A humane dairy goat operation would have their goats on pasture. Pasture needs to be fenced (but not with barbed wire). In order to allow the pasture time to regenerate, rotational browsing should be employed- meaning more money on good fencing. A humane fence imo would have a hot wire to keep potential predators out. That means fencing maintenance and regular checks. If I remember correctly the ratio is one goat per half acre.
    2) Humane to me, means disbudding with a powerful iron. Fiasco Farms, a dairy run by vegetarians, disbuds their kids. Kids quickly overcome the procedure when done with knowledge.
    3) A humane operation would begin with top dairy quality CAE free stock and allow the kids to nurse from their own mother for a couple of weeks before the mother is milked for production. Then it would allow the kids to continue to nurse therefore getting only partial priduction out of each doe. (Twice as many does would be needed to have the same production as a dairy that didn't allow kids to nurse)
    4) Humane, to me, means all the goats are regularly groomed and handled to accustom them to contact and daily dairy operations. They will walk on leash, allow themselves to be milked, stay still while being trimmed etc. This takes time and patience.
    5) Humane shelter would provide a dry, comfortable temperature during all seasons when they need it. Lots of money to provide one large enough in all pastures.
    6) Humane does not mean organic or holistically raised to me so a standard vaccination and worming program suited to my geographic area would be imperative as well as regular ground treatment for flies, mosquitoes, lice, etc.
    7) By far the largest issue would be what to do with all the kids? To me, a humane operation would allow them to be weaned naturally from mother. The boys would be wethered. A market for pet wethers, companions, and pack animals would be sought but I really don't believe that many dairies can sell their excess kids completely to these markets. I think it is almost guaranteed that you will have to look at meat markets. To me, going about that is not necessarily inhumane. I killed my first wether this year. A good shot behind the ear when he was unsuspecting killed him instantly. Mother and sister did not notice. I would not sell at auctions or sell live animals to anyone who would then butcher them. I will do it myself. To me, it is of utmost importance that they are dispatched in familiar surroundings with no stress or any sort.
    So, is it possible? Only if you find the market to support it. It is possible if you find enough people with the same convictions you have, not only to buy your products but to work for you. I've no doubt that it can be done but I have no idea whether it would be feasible, let alone profitable on a major scale and in all areas. i hope this didn't sound consdescending. Humane treatment of animals and animal welfare is a very important issue to me- above my own health.
     
  17. TexCountryWoman

    TexCountryWoman Gig'em

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    I just love this thread! What a hoot! It has really given me a chuckle...basically everybody pretty much agreeing somewhat but not agreeing. My farm philosphy is "My farm animals live a very happy life then they die and that is better than most humans can say." I love my animals, care for them with respect, say a prayer for their little animal spirit prior to a merciful killing and thank them for feeding us." I thank them for their milk, meat and for their eggs. I say thanks for the food from the soil. I am a follower of Christ and I ask that he blesses my herd. And as my quirky son has always said: "If we aren't supposed to eat animals, then why are they made out of meat?"
     
  18. RoyalOaksRanch

    RoyalOaksRanch Royal Oaks Taxidermy

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    Just because you grew up in beef cattle country doesnt mean you know what your talking about....Ive got a rancher across the road from me that has 45+ cows, 55 acres, and STILL hasnt got a clue about raising cattle, all his are "Pets". And if you did work on a dairy then you should already have a real good idea about what to do and what not to do...
    Seems to me you are wanting to live in some fantasy world where everything is PERFECT. Its NOT, and then when everyone does respond you get on a soap box as if you know it all.. In which case why the heck did you bother asking if you have been there done that???
    Perhaps if you had stated your past experience, along with your questions for a more humane type dairy THEN maybe you wouldnt feel so "Put down" when everyone tried to answer. you yourself gave no indications that you are anything more than some person who woke up one day after seeing a movie the night before who now wants to have a goat diary and doesnt know where to start... meaning no experience....
    Your OWN words seem to sum you up pretty darn good.... Let me refresh your memory :: "In my experience when people start to flame another person it's to justify to THEMSELVES their own practices that they're uncomfortable with..."

    Perhaps you need to become more comfortable with asking questions....If you want a certain type answer then design your question to get the desired response... otherwise you may be UNCOMFORTBALE with our answers...
    And just so you will youll know I dont think anyone here flamed you for your questions. Cant say much for your response... talk about calling the kettle black..
     
  19. debitaber

    debitaber Well-Known Member

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    If you are drinking the soymilk, for the protien, you can get more of it, out of an 8 ounce bowl of pinto beans. it is true. soy milk, isn't all it is cracked up to be, and there isn't enough calcium in it for your body's needs. for teeth and bones.
    but if you are one of those veggie types of people, then you need to stay away from the dairy , and animals. there is a certain amount of pain involved, in breeding, kidding the young, [birthing],castrating, disbudding, . all of this causes pain. and milking, their teats get sore sometimes, until they get used to it. so, I think you need to leave the animal's alone. Not evdryone is cut out for it.
     
  20. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    My word! People are feeling DEFENSIVE today! Must be all of those silly PETA statements going around!

    Anigisditalis, your BEST bet is to sit down and decide for YOURSELF what is and is not humane. My OWN opinion of humane treatment will not do YOUR concience any good at all.

    Then figure out if you can make a profit at it.

    In my opinion, your biggest stumbling block will be what to do with the unwanted males. The market for pets and brush goats isn't big enough to take ALL of the males that a commercial dairy will produce.

    Of course, that holds true whether you are producing the milk OR consuming it.