Managing for Healthy Goats
When Frank and Linda Mallory decided to leave their home in southern California and to retire in the Ozarks five years ago, they moved more than just their household belongings. Linda moved 30 goats (15 pygmies and 15 Saanen dairy goats) from California to their 38-acre farm in Marion County. Today she has 12 Saanens and 13 pygmy goats and two Anatolian Shepherd/Komondor/Great Pyrenees mix dogs that keep watchful eyes on the herd.
The Mallorys are no strangers to farm animals. On their small acreage in California, they kept goats, a couple of steers, pigs, ducks, chickens and geese. Their four adult children were involved in FFA and showed LaMancha dairy goats as youngsters. “I got my first pygmy in California by trading two weaner pigs,” said Linda.
Linda’s pygmy goats are out of champion stock. She is very proud of their success in shows. “I have progeny tested 10 or 11 pygmies over the years. They all made it,” said Linda. In the future, she plans to sell out her pygmy herd and concentrate on the dairy goats because there are not as many shows scheduled close to her home.
Although Linda has her dairy goats dried up now and is in the middle of breeding season, she still follows a very stringent health program. “I am on a CAE (Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis) Prevention program. This means I take the newborns away from the dam as soon as they are born and I pasteurize the milk before it is bottle fed to the kids,” said Linda. She also vaccinates her animals every three months, provides baking soda and loose trace minerals free choice, alternates Safeguard and Ivomec wormers and gives copper capsules to help prevent worms. “I notice I don’t have quite the worms that others do. I think they are healthier altogether,” said Linda.
When it comes to breeding, Linda doesn’t like to breed anything before it is one year old. “I like them to get their growth for two reasons: I like them to be able to support their babies and I like them to have the growth they need to do their job better,” said Linda.
One of Linda’s top priorities is to continue to improve her herd through genetics and progressive farming practices. When her husband built their pole barn, he designed a feeder that allows the goats to be fed hay directly off of a trailer. The dairy goats’ udders are clipped after freshening and washed prior to milking with a bleach water solution to prevent infections and mastitis. A special spray is used as a post dip to prevent bacteria from getting into the teat ends after milking. Cleanliness is very important to Linda. She makes every effort to do her own vet work. It is not unusual to see Linda clipping hooves, dehorning, medicating or just anything that needs to be done.
Linda advertises in local markets to sell her milk and has several regular customers who come to her home to buy raw goat milk. She also makes a soft cheese for their own consumption. “I was on milk test last year and one of my girls came in the top 10 in quantity and she was fourth in protein,” said Linda.
When it comes to marketing her goats, Linda advertises in Caprine News, Dairy Goat Journal and on-line at Saanen Talk. One person drove from Illinois to purchase one of Linda’s animals. She also relies on her success at goat shows to build her reputation for good animals. During the past year, Linda has taken some of her “girls” to shows in Little Rock, Ark., and Springfield, Mo. At one show, she took five does and three of them came home as champions in their classes.
When Linda’s goats start to freshen in five months, they will be milked in the new milk barn Frank is busy building for them. It will contain a milking machine, a refrigerator and water. The barn is another step the Mallorys are taking to provide a great environment for their goats, as well as provide a quality product for their customers.