Where are all the goats?


From: Dick Gallien

Where are the goats? It’s a long story. When I came back to the farm in 1970, Barb and our four young kids stayed in N.J. There were a lot of small dairy farms then, some of which would run a beef bull with their heifers for easier calving. I bought 32 cross heifer calves at sales barns and 10 old Swiss cows at a farm auction. The old barn had burned, so Nadine and I would tie the cows to a hay feeder twice a day and they raised the heifer calves. In a few years we had 55 beef cows, 110 total, but concluded beef cow/calf was expensive exercise, so switched to milking 40. As with the first two boys and two girls, we soon had two more of each, Kirstin milking 20 cows every third milking at age 6. Kirst, John and Glenn had bottle raised the calves since birth and I warned them, especially Kirst, not to become too attached to a cow, because they’ll eventually become hamburger. That happened before anyone could’ve imagined to all of our dairy animals. On December 18, 1986, after 7.5 years of milking, we were among 36 Winona County dairy farmers who were paid on the Federal Dairy Herd Buyout, to have all of our female dairy animals slaughtered and not have another on the farm for five years. The thousands of dairy farmers being forced to leave this once healthy family lifestyle, have no such financial cushion today. A recent cover photo in a Wisconsin farm paper is of a farm woman and her cat in her empty milking area. Her husband had committed suicide.

A few years ago I heard Sue and her daughter Maddy talking about A2 A2 milk — I had never heard of it. It seems human and goat milk is all A2 A2 and Guernseys have the highest percentage of A2 A2 dairy cows. Then I read about the Spanish madre (mothering) method of raising a calf. Few milk cows have any chance to mother their calves, unlike beef cows, whose calves start exploring their grassy, edible world at birth with friends, always within calling distance of mother.

So there was an A2 A2 Guernsey cow, and supposedly an A2 A2 heifer calf 100 miles over in Wisconsin. When I saw the cow, days from calving, I felt sorry for her. She and her calf were here only six weeks, separate from the herd, but up grade from two push up ponds, which a veterinarian called “poop soup.” I had read about Johnes (similar to Crones in humans), which most large dairies have. It will take at least two years without ruminants to hopefully break the cycle. Of course there’ll be hay burners, chickens, ducks and geese on the farm, but most of us kids will miss the goats and cows.


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