A visit to a goat farm in Bennekom
I come from a very agriculture-rich province in India, where we see many cattle, buffalo, sheep, and goat farms. Goats are primarily kept for their meat in India. It is usually a climate-dependant business and shifts sites from one place to another at the whim of the herd owner. However, recently, I had an opportunity to visit a goat farm in The Netherlands. Thanks to the study association of Animal Science Group, de Veetelars, I got a chance to visit a goat farm in nearby village of Bennekom. It was a very enlightening experience for me.
Goats are reared for milk in The Netherlands. Their milk can be consumed as such or as cheese which is very expensive. Although Dutch folks don’t like this cheese much, it is marketed extensively in Italy, Spain, France, etc. It is softer in body than cow milk cheese and has numerous dishes in the Mediterranean cuisine attributed to it.
This particular farm was a medium-sized one with total herd population of 2100 goats out of which 1250 were producing milk. The goats were of Saanen-Alpine cross breed. The average milk yield per goat was upto 1100 litres every year. Each goat is mated twice in its lifetime, once when its weight reaches 40 kilos (7 months age) and once when it is 2.5-3 years old. The farmer also maintains a buck population of 21 on rotating basis of each breed as well as crossbred.
Goats are milked thrice a day with a rotary milking parlour which can accommodate 72 goats at a time. The total milking session lasts for about 3 hours. Each teat tube is cleaned prior and after use and records are kept per the groups. Each goat is ear-tagged at the age of 2 months and then kept in herd.
The whole visit took us around three hours and it was a mesmerizing experience for me.
The daily ration of goats consists of silage grass beetroot husk (after sugar is removed) and pellets of supplements. Concentrates are provided at the rate of 2-3kilos/goat/day. essay about my job experienceSeparate ration is formulated for pregnant does and consists of more concentrate and silage grass.
The goats are vaccinated with Clostridium and Q-fever vaccine. The recent outbreak of Q-fever in 2008-10 had a very negative impact on goat production and hence farmers don’t take this disease lightly. The local veterinarian from Veenendaal is responsible for the immunization as well as bi-yearly check-up and is also expected to be available on call whenever required. Mastitis is not a very rampant issue, but if found, the goats are first quarantined and then culled. Penicillin treatment is not advisable in milk businesses.
The farmer himself is responsible for pregnancy diagnosis and parturition of goats. The young ones are weaned immediately and provided with milk until they reach the body weight of 12 kilos. Colostrum of young mothers (7 months of age) is used for kid whereas the colostrum of the older batch of mothers is not used since it is poor in consistency and quality.
The whole farm is of indoor intensive type with 2 rearing barns and 1kid/ special barn 2 mating barns. Mating is carried out in ad-havoc system with 8 bucks per 200-400 goats. The barns are not temperature controlled although most of them have heating lights and east-west facing ventilators. essay on ireland's cultureThe floors are covered in litter that is changed twice a month. The goat droppings also have a great market value and this particular farmer ships it to orchids and vegetable farms nearby. Bigger barns have automatic trolley system with feeding scaffolds whereas smaller ones requires manual spread of feed along with chaffing machines/ feeders.
The farmer, along with his son work on this farm and is involved in all the feeding, milking, monitoring activities. He also owns a magnificent beast of a St.Bernard dog that keeps a wary eye on the whole site.
The farmer, along with his son work on this farm and is involved in all the feeding, milking, monitoring activities.
The whole visit took us around three hours and it was a mesmerizing experience for me. Such visits open your eyes to the prospect of novel businesses in the agriculture and animal husbandry sector. Various places in the world have various uses of different livestock animals and it provides us with a great insight to observe such differences. I am thankful to the international team of de Veetelars association and hope that they plan many more of such excursions. I am also thankful to the very energetic and cooperative farmer who owns this farm (I am sorry I forgot to ask you for your name, sir!).