As rancher Kelly Allen prepares to start his new dairy goat farm on his 102-acre spread in the Saturn area, he says he expects it to be a top-notch facility that will hopefully see a lot of business.
Ideally, Allen would like to have milk as well as three different cheeses available for the market, including chèvre, feta and possibly ricotta.
“There’s no other goat dairy in the area,” Allen said during a tour of the farm. “There used to be one near Flatonia, but it’s been gone for a while now.”
Allen will be farming Saanen goats, which takes its name from the Saanental in the Bernese Oberland, in the southern part of the Canton of Bern, in western Switzerland. It is a highly productive dairy goat and is distributed in more than 80 countries worldwide.
“These goats are originally from Switzerland, and were acquired from a breeder in North Texas,” Allen said. “We have some bucks that have a cheese gene in them. I didn’t even know there was such a thing! So their babies will be able to make better milk than a regular goat can.”
When asked how long will it be before Allen and co. can start “churning out” a product, he said, “We won’t have any milk until February when the doelings get here, and we won’t have cheese until March 1, when our licenses go into effect. We will start our goat breeding this fall.”
The goats live on a steady supply of alfalfa, goat feed, weeds and mesquite leaves, and are quite happy to get acquainted with humans who offer to hand-feed them.
“We have this high-protein feed that will help get the nutrients in their bodies so they can keep producing milk,” Allen said. “Lots of vitamins and minerals — it’s the best feed we could find on the market.”
One problem goat farmers run into is goats getting parasites, or worms — an obstacle that can hinder production and even kill the animals. But Allen says this isn’t going to stop him from maintaining a healthy herd.
“Our long-term goal is to put in more pastures so we can rotate the goats,” he said. “The lifespan of the worm is 21 days, so we can move ‘em to another pasture for 21 days, and move ‘em again. By then we’ve interrupted the worms’ life cycle. We’ll also have a veterinarian help us with different types of de-wormers.”
Allen says he’s very thankful for local craftsmen who helped build his facility, including Dick Goss, Roland Escobedo, Rick Gonzales and Calub Boscamp.