Iowa currently ranks third in total milk goats, with the inventory up three percent from January 2018 standing at 32,000 dairy goats and 217 licensed dairies.
The Iowa State University Extension Dairy Team has recently completed a survey of the licensed goat dairies in Iowa and is processing the data. However, to start the conversations with dairy goat producers, the dairy team held its first program with concurrent programs in Orange City and Elkader on December 14.
With 60 in attendance, the topics included financial and tax issues, herd health, forages, milk quality and colostrum plus each location had a producer panel discussing the challenges of managing dairy goats. In Orange City the speakers included: Tom Thaden, NW Iowa Farm Business Association, Sheldon, IA; Dr. Chris Duemler, Brodhead Veterinary Medical Center, Brodhead, WI; Daniel Olson, Forage Innovations, Lena, WI; Leo Timms, Iowa State University, Ames, IA; and Shanna DeHough, Big Red Barn Soaps & Lotion, Sheldon, IA. Producer panelist included; Rod Van Wyk, Tim Schmidt, Mary Larson and Shanna DeHough.
The program was evaluated with a pre-post retrospective tool at the conclusion of the day. From those responding, 57 percent identified as producers and 34 percent as hobbyist. Those respondents represented 2,395 milking goats averaging 7.3 pounds of milk per day, raising 1,220 kids plus farmed 2811 acres raising feed. The average length of time those producers have been milking goats was 13 years with over 55 percent planning on expanding their business in the next five years.
From the same survey, we evaluated the increase in the level of understanding for all nine topics and found for both locations the average increase was .7 with 52 percent showing an increase in all areas. The highest change was for how changes in tax law effects their dairy business.
Plans to adopt a practice or technology as the result of a program is the truest measure of success for Extension programs. From each presentation we noted the seven primary issues and asked attendees their intention to adopt or recommend making that change to their clients. The average committed to change was 85 percent with the highest commitments in using standard body condition score for does and Famacha scoring.
To evaluate the economic impact this program had for attendees we asked them to estimate the benefit on an annual per milking goat basis, the range was from no benefit to over $50. The aggregate benefit for the program was $68,976.
Finally, we asked if respondents experienced or have seen indications of personal stress in farm families; 64 percent indicated they had, and 14 percent had been prompted to take some action or intervention.
At the Orange City location, all producers who responded indicated that they would like to have a field day in 2020. Several topics hands-on demonstrations were suggested including cheese making, hoof trimming and breeding/AI programs. Look for a field day in 2020. If you are interested in hosting at your farm, give me a call to begin making plans!