Grit Blogs > Terra Dei Farm - A Life of Stewardship

Rabbits and Chickens and Meat Goats, Oh My!

Commercial Meat Goat Herd

Terra Dei is Latin for "Land of God."  We are a small family farm tucked into the rolling fields and pastures of rural Northeast Missouri.  We raise mostly for our own consumption - chickens, feeder pigs, meat rabbits, garden, etc.  And children, we have 4 of them, aged 6 months to 5 years old.  But we don't consume them.  Of course, there is also the general farmyard collection of dogs and barn cats, which we also do not consume.  Yet ...  (That was a joke, please do not send HSUS after me!)

 Executive Meeting
I also run our farm's online shops: www.TerraDeiFarm.etsy.com and www.WhiteBarnArt.etsy.com.  However, our main venture for the past five years or so has been meat goats.  We maintain a small, average of about 20 to 25 breeding head, herd of commercial Boer and Boer x Kiko goats.  We breed selectively and cull heavily in order to maintain our herd of easy keepers who thrive on pasture and loose mineral alone (and hay in the winter), need worming no more often than 2 times a year, kid twins without assistance and raise those kids to market weight by weaning.  Lofty standards, I know, but that is where the heavy culling comes in to play.  The goat herd is a considerable element of our farm's profitability, which is important to us, so we aim to run it in a profitable manner.

We are constantly reading, researching, brainstorming and trying new ideas to increase our sustainability and profitability. In a lot of ways we aim to run our farm in a very business-like manner (because that is what it is, a business).  Which means that some people are surprised to learn that all of our animals have names.  All of them.  Every kitten, goat kid, chicken and pig.

 Jones
Seriously, before I write another post I just have to get that out in the open!  Of course, our human kids like it, but I won't kid myself and think that it wouldn't be the case if we didn't have kids.  No, I'll take the blame. 

In a lot of ways, it just seems like good business.  I appreciate knowing our animals on an individual basis.  (Most of them aren't pets, and while none of our goats are wild, there are only a couple who will allow a human touch.)  But marking them individually with a name allows me to tune into their personal quirks and temperaments, which leads to an understanding of what "normal" is for that animal, which then leads to a quick notice of anything being "off." 

We ear tag too, which should serve the same purpose, but without running out to the barn I have a hard time remembering which ear tag goes to which goat.  Unless they have a name.  Then it is easy for me to remember, "Oh yes, #45, that's Martha."

 Martha 
And, in a herd of white goats with dark heads, it is important to be able to distinguish.  Especially since the current ages of our children often prevent Matt (my husband) and I from being out in the barn at the same time.  If we didn't have names for the animals, our conversations might go something like this:

Matt: I was just out in the barn, a goat was acting funny.

Me: Buck or doe?

Matt: Doe

Me: Which one?

Matt: #45

Me: Ummm...what does she look like?

Matt: White, brown head.

Me: Umm...dark brown or light brown?

Matt:  Medium??

Me: Blaze?

Matt:  I think so.

Me: Wide blaze or skinny blaze?

Matt: I'm not sure ... it might just be a spot on her forehead ...

You get the idea.  It is no time to be playing 20 questions when lives are at stake.  Therefore, it is good business for our animals to have names.  So now, if you ever read another post of mine you will know that we do not just have a plethora of pets.  All of our animals earn their keep.  They have jobs.  And they have names too.