2017 - Volume #41, Issue #4, Page #07[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Young Producer Builds Up A Big Dairy Goat Farm
Those are a few of the lessons Tony Garcia Jr., has learned in 4 years since moving from his parents’ 800-cattle dairy farm to start up Paradise Goat Dairy in Modesto, Calif. His reason for switching from cattle to goats was simple – market stability. With demand for goat milk for yogurt, cheese and kefir, local creameries pay a year-round average of $3.70/gal.
At 22, Garcia has expanded from 75 goats to 1,800 goats, averaging 1,300 milked at a time.
In 2013, he rented his grandmother’s farm and remodeled the dairy barn to accommodate goats. The special milking equipment was expensive, so Garcia says he built up slowly. Fortunately, the goats he started with were about half the current price, and he has been able to build his herd by breeding with bucks and AI (artificial insemination).
“I’m the first big goat dairy using a lot of AI, for better breeding and genetics and less disease, which can be transmitted by bucks,” he says.
His herd includes a variety of dairy breeds, but his favorite is the Alpine breed.
“The average goat lasts about seven years and produces 3/4-gal. of milk a day,” Garcia says. “I am now shipping to two creameries and have a little room to expand.”
There are many similarities milking cows and goats, such as chores and putting up alfalfa hay. The goats are housed in dry pens with shades.
But goats have some unique challenges.
“The raising of babies is so much harder with goats. They are super sensitive and really finicky,” Garcia says. They need to be monitored carefully, so he adds a few employees during kidding season, and he works closely with a veterinarian to use the right vaccination program.
He adds that goats are more wasteful and only pick out their favorite feeds in a TMR (total mixed ration).
As he continues to learn and set goals for higher milk production, Garcia says he is satisfied with his decision to switch from cows to goats.
“It was a wise choice to go this way,” he says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Tony Garcia Jr., 6455 California Ave., Modesto, Calif. 95358 (ph 209 818-9696; firstname.lastname@example.org).
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