Holiday Ranch
Breeder of South Poll Grass Cattle

National Goat Conference

Guess what? My girlfriend, Terry (she owns the twin colts I wrote about recently) and I attended the National Goat Conference at Florida A&M University September 12-15, 2010.  

You might ask why did I, a cattle rancher, attend a goat conference? Several reasons. First, the conference also covered sheep and we now graze Florida Gulf Coast Native Sheep and St. Croix sheep. Second, goats are infamous browsers and I wanted to learn if I could run goats with the sheep to aid in weed control on Holiday Ranch, and third, my friend is exploring the possibility of raising goats on her Pines and Pastures ranch.  

I really must hand it to FAMU, they did a marvelous job of presenting this conference. Every detail seemed to be handled with every i dotted and t crossed. Their presentations were quite informative and thorough.  

Silvopasture at FAMU research center

 

If I had to find any fault with the conference, it would be the lack of information on forages and grazing, a critical component of raising livestock (more than just a backyard flock) if you don’t want to go broke buying feed. Next time this conference is presented, I suggest they include an in-depth session on grass-fed, rotational grazing, a how to achieve a year-round forage chain of pasture grazing, silvopasture, and a multi-species grazing system. Optional tours of farms actually engaged in these practices would be invaluable.  

There were attendees, like myself, that did not have any goats. Yet, there were no breed associations present. I would have liked the opportunity to interview the different breed representatives to learn as much as I could to decide which breed is right for me and my location.  

One enjoyable aspect of the conference was the meals. Each meal included goat. I am a typical  American who has never been exposed to goat meat, except at Teddy Gentry’s Grazefest. To my complete and total surprise, it is very tasty! Goat was served in numerous ways and it was delicious. The meat has a depth of flavor that is incredible. I always thought it would be musty and wild-flavored. It is definitely the “other red meat”. The goat was served roasted, grilled, barbecued, baked, spicy, and probably many other ways I don’t recall. By far my favorites were goat curry and goat chili – both were incredible!  

As far as my favorite part of the conference, it was the hands-on training we received at the research station. We got a tour of their 300+ acre farm, learned to evaluate for parasites using the FAMACHA method, prepare a fecal sample including seeing the parasites through a microscope, trim feet, give injections and castrate. 

All-in-all, I would rate the conference as excellent. Job well done, FAMU. 

At Holiday Ranch we pride ourselves in our ability to raise grass-fed beef utilizing nothing but forage and a little hay.  The key is the right kind of cattle.  Please visit our website to learn more.  And while you are there, click over and visit our Missouri partner, Bruce Shanks of Sassafras Valley Ranch who specializes in low-input sustainable ranching.

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