Goat farming grows more popular and Glenanore Farms leads the way
By Cheryl Petersen
Donna and Mike Noonan, owners of Glenanore Farms, hosted a farm visit last week, offered through the Delaware County Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Watershed Agricultural Council. A dozen interested attendees networked and shared tricks of the meat-goat trade that is on the rise.
Glenanore Farms rests on 135 acres in the Town of Bovina. “We also rent about 40 nearby acres,” said Mike, who grew up on the farm. “The meat-goat project began in year 2004, when my wife and I decided raising goats is what we’d like to do during our retirement.”
Donna told the audience, “Working on the farm with the animals gives us exercise, allows us to show our grandchildren that they can know where their food comes from, and always gives us something to do.” The last “benefit” was said with a grin as Donna pointed out, “One season, we had 13 kids born within a 24-hour period of time.”
30 goats in herd
Glenanore Farms is home to 30 goats, all having an exquisite view of the Town of Bovina. Generally, 15-25 kids are born each year. “We haven’t had to market actively because buyers come looking for all the goat meat we can produce,” said Donna Noonan. “However, if you’re thinking of getting into the meat-goat business, it helps to know how to market the meat.”
A few ideas were shared such as selling the meat goats on Craigslist or entering the market for meat specially cut for religious requirements. A farmer visiting from Sullivan County mentioned breeding the goats to supply meat for Easter.
Most of the goats birth twins. “One mother had quads a few years back and that was too much for her. She was frantic,” said Donna Noonan who at the time, made every attempt possible to help the mother adjust. “We used paddock panels to pen off the mother to give her a private area. I warmed towels in the microwave to keep the kids warm, but it was still too much and we ended up bringing the babies into the house.”
Bottle-feeding is a common practice when raising animals. Colostrum is an important food element for newborns. Donna Noonan spoke on recipes for milk, saying, “Because Mike and I have recently started raising Dexter cows, we tried Dexter milk and found it effective when bottle feeding. But there are many milk formulas out on the market. The University of Alabama has a good website with this kind of information, however, the best information is shared by farmers like all of us. It’s to our benefit to keep in touch with other farmers and share our practical applications.”
Glenanore Farms utilizes electrical fencing. “After birthing, we want the mothers to nurse the kids for two to three months,” said Donna Noonan. “We start weaning according to the size and age of the kids,” said Noonan. “I look at their muscle and aim for the kids to weigh more than 30 pounds before weaning.”
Goats are ruminants, able to digest and manufacture a variety of nutrients. They are also good browsers with an abundance of green forage on Glenanore Farms. Huge rocks were placed in the pasture for the goats to climb on. The rough rocks naturally file down their hooves.
Meat goat is sold from the farm for about $3/live weight pound. As for selling breeding stock, “The cost is relative to what the buyer wants,” said Donna Noonan. “If the buyer wants blood tests results, the cost can run another $70. Breeding papers can also cost an extra $25.”
Glenanore Farms works with the Watershed Agricultural Council to ensure water quality and facility effectiveness. “The Watershed planner helps. The basic requirements for goat farming are adequate pasture, paddocks, run in sheds, and water sources,” said Donna. “We like the heated water stations to use during our upstate winters.”
“The calf hutches have proven well,” said Donna. “They keep the Dexter babies warm.”
The new adventure of raising Dexter cows was started one year ago. “The breed intrigues me,” said Mike.
As a means to diversify, Glenanore Farms brought Dexter cows to the farm. These bovines are native to Ireland and reach a height measuring between 36 to 42 inches. “Our cow, Martha, stands 37-inches tall and is a register Red,” said Mike. “The milk of Dexter cows is high in butterfat.”
Dexter fertility is high and calves are dropped in the field without difficulty. They are dual purpose, being raised for both milk and meat. Dexters are also the perfect old-fashioned family cow. Pound for pound, Dexters cost less to get to the table, economically turning forage into rich milk and quality, lean meat.