“It wasn’t too long ago that if it didn’t moo or squeal, it wasn’t considered livestock around here,” said Tim Stevens, owner Stevens Metal and Boer Goats.
Stevens’ father, Bill, started raising South African Boer goats on the farm about 10 years ago after retiring from the military. Stevens said the expanding Muslim and Mexican populations in the United States have caused a demand for goat meat to increase drastically. According to the American Boer Goat Association’s Web site, Boer goats are now ranked seventh in meat-producing livestock registration in the country. Despite this boom, Stevens said the U. S. still imports about 70 percent of its goats from outside the country.
Stevens said his father used to have as many as 500 goats at one time, but that he has scaled back the operation considerably since Bill died about 3 ½ years ago. He now keeps about 200 kids on the farm, a third of which are used for breeding. Most of them weigh between 60 and 80 pounds. Still, that many goats require a good deal of care. The goats are vaccinated once a year and wormed every 30 to 60 days. Their hooves sometimes have to be trimmed too. This is because the terrain of the hills in Kentucky is so different from their native South Africa or Australia, where they are also common. There are many rocks and sandstones in those regions for the goats to tread on, making hoof-trimming unnecessary.
Because of this required work, Stevens said he is grateful for the help of Connie Ramsey and Ronnie Cunningham. After Bill died, they started coming to the farm for a couple of hours a day to help take care of the animals. They help feed and worm the goats, Stevens said.
Despite what sounds like a lot of hard work, Stevens said that goats are some of the easiest livestock to handle. They are friendly and low-maintenance. They are grain-fed once a day, but they spend most of their days whatever vegetation is growing on the farm. Stevens has planted orchard grass clover and lespedeza. There are also mint plants, which they don’t touch until the weather starts to turn cold. Boer goats will eat just about anything Stevens said. That is, almost.
For the rest of this story, read this week's Cadiz Record.