Friday, 30 May 2014

National Goat Expo Report - Part 1

This is the first part of my report on the 2013 National Goat Expo which took place in Bloomington, Illinois, USA last September.  This first part will cover the seminars I attended over the few days; part two will cover the shows and breeds and the final part will cover the other demonstrations and any other items of interest.  The whole report will be available for download next week from the Teagasc Goat Page.
Part 1 - Seminars

+Deborah Niemann is a homesteader, writer and self-sufficiency expert who has been raising livestock and making goats’ cheese for over 10 years. She conducted 3 seminars on the first day based on her experience and expertise. These primarily focussed on the range of value-added products that can be made from dairy goats. Deborah outlined the basics of making cheese from goats’ milk and the equipment required. She also detailed the equipment, process and ingredients for soap making. Goats’ milk and caprillic acid are extremely good for your skin and are used in the treatment of skin conditions such as eczema. Many things can be added to goats’ milk soap and Deborah described many of these and their uses. These include essential oils, herbs, clays and oatmeal. Finally, Deborah covered the production of meat, the tanning of hides and production of leather goods. There was also reference made to the whey left over from cheese production and its use as a feed for pigs and as a fertiliser.

Dr. Steve Hart has spent over 20 years in the E (Kika) de la Garza American Institute for Goat Research located at +Langston University in Oklahoma. He made a number of presentations over the three days of seminars; the first of which was a basic introduction to goats dubbed ‘Goats 101’. This was an excellent introduction to goat farming and covered all important aspects to be considered when beginning a goat enterprise.  He also covered topics such as parasites; nutrition and minerals; nutrition for high-yielding dairy does and pasture management and grazing. 

Dr. Frank Pinkerton retired in 1993 after a 40-year university career, the last 15 of which focussed on goats for milk, meat and fibre. He still works as a private consultant in goat management and marketing and writes articles for Goat Rancher magazine. He also presented a number of seminars over the 3 days, primarily based on meat goats such as was Management Influences Affecting Net Farm Income and Meat Goat Producer Problems and Constraints.
Dr. Donald Bliss is the owner and operator of Mid America Ag Research, an agricultural and research management consultant company. They specialise in drug development and applied research with primary emphasis on parasitology investigations. Dr. Bliss gave an excellent presentation on parasites in goats, how they pick up parasites and how treatments might differ from other farm animals. He also discussed parasite life cycles, control programmes and strategic deworming programmes.

Leslie Cooperband of Prairie Fruits Farm gave two presentations on setting up a farmstead creamery and cheese making. She gave a detailed seminar on her own experience in setting up a dairy and cheese production unit, from 4 goats up to their present number in excess of 70. They currently make 8 different cheeses on the farm and Leslie went through the process of making some of these. She was also kind enough to bring some of the cheeses with her for a tasting at the end of the seminars.

The final speaker at the Expo was Dr +Noah Litherland of the +University of Minnesota. He gave two very detailed seminars, the first of which was on Successful Kid Rearing Practices. This was an excellent presentation with a huge amount of information covering the different phases of rearing up to weaning, the importance of colostrum and feeding. The final seminar was again very detailed and was on Managing Nutrition of Does during Late Pregnancy and Early Lactation. Dr. Litherland covered topics such as effects of prepartum feeding on postpartum performance, ketosis, rumen health, milk fever and uterine health.

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