A Different Breed of Feeding Operation
When Preferred Livestock of Marion, Ky., needs goats, they call Bud Hansen. In a trailer he customized with a double deck, he hauls 175 to 180 goats to the yards in Kentucky, where they are loaded on bigger trucks and distributed to packing houses.
Bud deals with large numbers of goats on a daily basis, but said, “I usually gather up for the end of the year ethnic holidays. We feed from 700 up to 1,400 head at a time, and usually feed some lambs, too.”
Eighty acres in Wright County near Grovespring, Mo., is home to Bud and Betty Hansen, and a large number of goats. For an exact number, Bud said you would have to talk to his son, Buzz, who is now helping with the operation.
The Hansens don’t breed and raise goats. Bud said, “We feed goats. We buy light feeders.” He buys at the local sale barns, with local being up to 100 miles away. The goats weigh between 20 to 40 pounds when he buys, and 50-plus when he sells.
When it comes to breeds, Bud has a variety, but said, “I lean to the Boers. I stay away from the Kinkos because they don’t gain good. They grow a lot of horns and can’t get their heads in the feeders right.”
Bud’s goats dine on a grain mix with high fiber content. “MFA mixes it and delivers it in the bulk.” He doesn’t feed hay.
The biggest wintertime problem for goats is “pneumonia and change of weather. Change of weather is really hard on them.” Problems start when the weather gets from 30 to 40 degrees at night and 75 to 80 degrees during the day, he said. "The big weather change is what gets them sick. It’s a big shock to their system. The goats are outside all the time. They will go to a shed, but you’ve got to have good shelter for them.”
Even with good shelter, goats need a watchful eye. Bud said, “Make sure you watch your goats, and when they get sick, doctor them.”
Bud stressed the importance of separating the goats according to size. If all the goats in one lot are close to the same size, they grow better. He compared putting a small goat in with larger ones to “putting a Kindergartener in with high-schoolers. It just wouldn’t work.”
As with most things, the goat market is unpredictable. Bud said, “You never know from one day to the next what it’s going to be. At the start of Ramadan, back in October, we had a dollar and a quarter, and within four days it went to 85 cents.” He sells goats for meat and explained, “There are a lot of nannies on the market this year, so people are eating the nannies instead of the good kid goats because the nannies are cheaper. They’re so cheap it’s unreal.” The reason for the high number of nannies on the market is “everybody’s getting out of the goat business.”
Not everybody. Bud Hansen hauls two or three loads a month to Kentucky, year round. Sometimes he will take five loads in a month. He said, “We handle between five and six thousand goats a year.”
Bud Hansen is showing what it takes to have a successful goat business.