By Frank J. Buchman
Goats could be a major footstep forward in providing highly nutritious protein to the still expanding, often hungry and starving world population.
“Sixty percent of the world eats goat meat. Goats are so efficient and prolific while providing low cholesterol, low fat meat that is second only to chicken as a healthy diet,” stated Carol Ann Bachofer of Brookville.
“The ethnic market for goat meat is rapidly increasing in this country, such that much of the meat goat consumed must be imported. I’ve even heard that meat goat production could never keep up with the demand,” she added.
“Meat goats are a profitable livestock business to be in today due to the market prices and low maintenance and facility requirements, especially compared to a cowherd, or major swine operation,” added Art Howell.
“That’s the reason we’re raising Boer goats here at the Mulberry Meadows Ranch,” surmised Bachofer, life mate and partner with Howell, in the business together for the past seven years.
“I’ve actually had goats for more than ten years, after some Nigerian dwarf goats wandered here from my neighbors. I raised them for a couple of years then did my goat research, and decided Boer goats were the direction to go, if I wanted to make this a profitable venture,” Bachofer said.
A top Texas Boer operation, one of the leading breeders in the country, offered a few select Boer goats at an auction in Oklahoma, where Bachofer bought her foundation herd. “I used my income tax return and bought five head of the best Boer goats sold that day. I definitely wanted to start with the finest seed stock available,” Bachofer insisted.
Importance of profitability firsthand in the Boer venture, Bachofer stated, “I decided from the beginning that raising Boer goats was going to be a cash business, and it has been. All of the feed, truck, trailer, additional purchases, breeding expenses, facilities everything to do with the Boer operation has been done with cash from the business.”
Before detailing Boer management, seemingly appropriate to reveal more about the Mulberry Meadows Boer Goat partners. Bachofer and Howell are individually known throughout the Midwest from previous and continuing endeavors.
Raised as a 4-H club member on a Saline County farm, Bachofer graduated from hometown Marymount College, taught several years, before serving in the Extension Service as a 4-H agent and home economist in western Kansas for eight years.
Continuing her education at other colleges, procuring advanced education degrees, Bachofer taught at several locations and is now an instructor for “48 identified-gifted 10th, 11th, 12th-grade students” at Manhattan West High School.
It’s a three-hour daily commute from Mulberry Meadows to and from her classroom, where Bachofer’s is in her 44th year as a teacher, combining Extension and education careers.
A Pennsylvania-correspondence-educated career professional civil engineer, Howell retired early, and is often recognized for his years as a leading Simmental breeder and seed stock producer.
Annually selling elite Simmental breeding cattle privately, and in consignment auctions, Howell stills holds the record for having the highest selling female of all breeds at the Kansas Beef Expo in Wichita.
Serving in a number of leadership roles, Howell was a member of both the Kansas Board of Agriculture and the Kansas State Fair Board for a number of years. After his wife of 48 years passed away in 2002, Howell dispersed his 80-cow purebred Simmental operation about five years later.
Howell still owns, but rents out the 240-acre Lincoln County farm homesteaded by his family in the 1860s.
Owned by Bachofer 15 years, Mulberry Meadows Ranch, named for the Mulberry trees in the yard and the nearby meadows, is a quarter section Saline County operation with Boer goats and one horse.
Ninety-five acres are rented to produce mostly soybeans, while the remaining acreage is goat grazing land. Intentions are to sow some cropland to alfalfa for goat hay.
“We were up to 120 Boer does at a peak, but we decided to reduce the size of the herd to have 50 of the best Boer goats in the state,” Howell said.
“Goats are kind of like rabbits; they’re quite prolific, so numbers increase rapidly. We’ve sold forty does in the past several months. Our Boers are all over the Midwest, North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, throughout Kansas and even other states,” Bachofer stated.
Diligent in quality healthy production, the Boers largely graze the farm with high tensile electric fencing and are noted for helping control intruding brush and noxious weeds.
“We feed very little concentrate and only give a couple of vaccinations to our goats. Our intent is to produce the highest quality goat meat possible,” Bachofer said.
Contrasting disease problems experienced by some goat breeders, there are no major issues at Mulberry Meadows. “We have a closed herd. No Boer goats have been brought onto the farm in nearly three years,” Bachofer noted.
While a stud buck, called O W, has produced highly demanded Mulberry Meadows seed stock, the operation heavily utilizes both artificial insemination and embryo transplanting. “Art and I have been trained to do A.I., but we’ve neither one done any. A veterinarian at Manhattan does the breeding work for us,” Bachofer said.
Boer semen from their best Mulberry Meadows bucks is in storage at the Kansas Artificial Breeding Service Unit (KABSU), Manhattan, in tanks previously used by Howell for Simmental semen.
Howell was on the ground level of embryo transplanting in his Simmental herd. “I use my experience gained in the cattle business with our goats, but there are differences. All of the embryo work with goats is done surgically, yet we’ve been very good successful,” Howell said.
“Of course, our does are some of the best in the breed, and we outcross to the highest quality Boer bucks in the country, always hoping to get an even a better buck to use naturally in our herd,” Bachofer said.
With a five-month gestation, Boer goat does typically produce twins. “Sometimes they’ll have triplets, and occasionally, there’ll be quads. But, we expect at least twins for a 200 percent kid crop,” Bachofer said.
Kids weigh nearly 40 pounds when weaned at two months, and then are ready for slaughter in another two months, weighing 80 to 100 pounds. “The goats need to weigh about that much, because nearly one third of a carcass is bone and waste,” Bachofer said.
“While most of our production is sold as seed stock, there is high demand by ethnic groups to buy the young goats for the meat, yet it must be processed at a federally inspected plant. Other Boer breeders do sell meat for production, but there has to be an approved label on the package.
“We’ve been eating our own locally-processed Boer goat meat out of the freezer for about three years. Of course, being a home economist, I’m quite aware of various preparation methods. Goat meat can be prepared in a variety of ways, and the tender meat readily separates from the fat,” Bachofer continued.
Does typically cycle within a few days after weaning their kids. “Condition of the does at mating seems to determine how many kids they’ll produce,” according to Howell.
With correct management, a doe will kid three times in 18 months, and would be expected to produce a total of six offspring, with exceptions being up to twice that many.
“Goat meat is in most demand as fresh cuts on the east coast, where there are custom plants specializing in goat processing,” Bachofer said.
“The goat meat imported to this country is likely used in prepared sausages and the like, because ethnic groups seem to prefer fresh cuts,” Howell inserted.
“Our goal at Mulberry Meadows is to produce the best Boer seed stock in the country,” Howell contended.
Mulberry Meadows Boer goats have collected show ring championship awards on all levels, from local and county youth events to state competitions to national exhibitions.
Cash market today for a meat goat weighing 40 to 60 pounds, would range from $2.30 a pound to $3.50 a pound, with $3, likely being the average, according to Howell’s speculation.
Marketing through special consignment sales and association sponsored events, Mulberry Meadows now hosts an annual Boer goat production and 4-H/FFA sale.
This spring’s sale is Saturday, March 21, at Mulberry Farms, 1657 North Wyman Road, Brookville, Kansas,
“I’ll start serving my famous Boer goat chili as a complimentary lunch at 11 o’clock, then we’ll preview the offering at noon, and the auction begins at 1 o’clock,” Bachofer said.
Sale sheet shows the offering to include nine bucklings/wether prospects, nine show doelings, nine short yearling does, five long yearling does and three breeding bucks.