We are now officially burned up here in the central Shenandoah Valley and there is no rain in sight for the next 10 days! We have been in this situation before in NC. The biggest difference is that in NC our goats were primarily on pasture that was burned up. Here in VA with our focus on invasive plant foraging they are largely unaffected by this drought.
Our solution in NC was to take our goats out of the pasture twice a day and walk them along the highway/utility right of way to forage on all of the invasive plants that are deeply rooted and largely unaffected by the drought and heat. Here we only have to make sure they have fresh water and minerals daily! In fact you will find the Boer Bok eating during the middle hours of the day when other livestock is holed up in the shade or in the streams and ponds causing a mess that carries all the way to the Bay.
Isn't it amazing how you can look in a field that is burned up and yet still see lush green plants. Those green plants are usually invasive species and they seem to thrive no matter what the weather forecast is. Our Boer Bok are doing the same. They are thriving while eating the invasive plant species in this terrible heat. The light-bulb went off for us in the drought of 2007, like "duh,,,,,,, no one else is doing it, but why not concentrate on the invasives and paddle downstream for a change"????????
We know first hand the stress of farmers who are going to have to start feeding hay in July while at the same time wondering if they will get another cutting of hay. Been there and done that. We also know about the next dilemma the small ruminant producers are going to experience when the rain does come. Those intestinal parasite eggs that are laying dormant on the pasture love to hatch in the warm moist heat. I will never forget the year this happened to us. It ruined a whole kid crop. We protect our Boer Bok from this severe situation by keeping them on invasives and off pasture. They are designed for woody forage. By eating off the ground with their heads up and they don't ingest the parasite eggs. It sounds simple, but most producers don't or haven't come to that place yet.
Unfortunately the Universities continue to teach the failed pasture rotation model. We took all of those classes about raising goats and that is the model they teach over and over. On fresh ground it will work for a few years, but it will eventually catch up with you and bring you to ruin. The intestinal parasite problem continues to be the greatest challenge to raising goats. So far, so good for us right now. This current weather pattern will bring the rotational pasture managers to the crossroads of success and failure. We hope that our example will be one they can learn from and adopt. There certainly seems to be enough invasives to go around and the sight of healthy goats is one that never gets old.
South African Boer Bok
Autumn Olive Farms is a family based operation in Augusta County. We have a dual focus model with a singular commitment to the health and wellness of the land, animal and the consumer. We raise the beautiful South African Boer Bok as an environmentally sound method to combat the invasive plant species problem while producing one of the finest and healthiest meats in the world right here in the Shenandoah Valley. The combination of the worlds premier, purpose bred and standardized meat goat with the fantastic forage base of invasive species here in the Valley provides a win-win situation for the land, its owner and the consumer.