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Sustainable Table: Dairy Goats

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APPLEGATE, Ore. – Every time the economy takes a downturn, the interest in goats or other small farm skills rises, and that was no different this time around.

Maria Lehnhardt became interested in goats 24 years ago.

“We wanted to do as many food things as we could, as healthy and natural as we could,” Maria Lehnhardt said.

Her two female goats aren’t milking right now, as their kids wean. When they do, which is about 10 months a year, the Lehnhardts have fresh milk everyday; it’s pleasure that comes first as a chore.

“If you are going to have a milk goat you have to be very committed to being a homebody or developing a friend that will milk for you,” Lehnhardt explained. “It takes longer to get the supplies together and clean the dishes afterward, than it does to milk a goat; it takes five minutes or less to milk a goat.”

5 minutes twice a day per goat, because you almost always have to have more than one. Besides occasional supervision, and the milking, goats don’t need much. They could be happy grazing on spare land, or munching on hay, alfalfa and grain, and a small place to keep them dry warm and safe.

“The people who seem to enjoy it the most are the people who maybe buy a goat that’s already bred, that’s due to kid within a few months,” said Lehnhardt, “and then they get to experience that whole scenario, and train the goat the way they want.”

Ledhardt explained she gives the goats food and love and that’s exactly what they give her in return. These Nubians are more than just livestock, making sure potential goat owners know all of this is one of the duties of the Rogue Valley Dairy Goat Association, which has been around for 35 years.

“We always have new people every month who want to know more about goats,” Lehnhardt said.

To reach even more people the association pairs with the OSU Extension Office offering “Get Yer Goat” Educational Day this weekend; it’s sold out each year.

“All day cheese making class and this year we have how to pick a good dairy goat, we have soap-making, we have a milking 101 class,” said Lehnhardt. “It’s pretty in-depth and people get to ask their questions.”

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  1. Linda Wilmoth says:

    Great story, we need more stories like this to enrich the lives of those who have these remarkable animals, people anticipating purchase, and for the goats themselves. They are not something to be tied to a stake in a yard to mow your grass or weeds. Dedicated goat breeders rarely sell any dairy goats without asking questions of those who plan to purchase from them. Humane care and appropriate housing are on top of the list for goats of all breeds, as well as minerals, good clean feed, plenty of fresh water, and love.

    Goats also need protection from predators. You will find that many serious goat people have some other type of animal used as a goat guard which may include llamas, donkeys, or special dogs called livestock guarding dogs. The most used dog is probably the Great Pyreneese, followed by Maremma, Anatolian, and Akbash, or cross breed dogs from these major breeds. They are invaluable in protecting livestock, farm, and family . They are all ancient breads used for centuries in the mountainous areas of the countries they come from.

    Having dairy goats is a big commitment for a person or family, be sure you are up to the challenge before you bring them home.

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