Growing popularity: Wyoming ranchers expand use of dairy goats
Sundance – What started as a solution for an abnormal number of twins born to heifers, has turned into a full-fledged goat operation for Crooke County rancher Tanja Miller, owner of Alpenthals Dairy Goats.
“I always wanted to have dairy goats but my husband wasn’t on board,” she explains. “Then we had six heifers give birth to twins and we needed a lot of extra milk to care for these bum calves and I finally got my goats.”
She notes the calves raised on goat milk did not receive the usual discount associated with bum calves, as they had gained ample weight consuming goat milk.
“We made the transition from commercial to registered Alpine goats in 2015 by buying our first registered milking doe from Dawnwind Dairy Goats in South Dakota,” says Miller. “Since then, we acquired more goats to our breeding program, striving to breed a correct and well-producing animal, which would be as much at home in the show ring as in the milking parlor.”
According to her website, “Alpine goats are a medium to large size breed. Their hair is short to medium length and they come in all colors and combinations of colors.”
She continues, “They have erect ears and a straight profile, and are described as being ‘alertly graceful,’ with the ability to adapt to any climate thanks to their hardy nature.”
She notes Alpines are wellknown for their rich and plentiful dairy production and have a very docile temperament.
Miller notes dairy goats are a great way for students to get started with raising animals, as it is inexpensive and goats are easier to manage for younger kids as opposed to showing cattle.
“Unlike most projects, with dairy goats they can be shown again because it’s a breeding show,” says Miller. “With showmanship and breeding animals there’s just so much more for a person and they are not confined to a single fair.”
“At our sanctioned show, we had over 30 youth showmen and twice as many local kids as we had last year,” Miller explains. “Except for showmanship classes, classes are divided based on the animals’ age and not the age of the exhibitor.”
She continues, “We had kids who had never shown before in the same class with people who have shown their entire lives.”
She notes its hard to find sanctioned shows in the area, but she, along with the Black Hills Dairy Goat Association have made it a point to bring sanctioned shows to Wyoming locals.
“This year we also had a costume class to make things more fun for the exhibitors,” says Miller. “I want these kids to know this is something that’s not only fun but can be a serious business if they work hard at it.”
American Dairy Goat Association
The American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA) began in 1904. Their mission begins with collecting, recording and preserving the pedigrees of dairy goats by maintaining herd books and issuing certificates of registration and recordation of dairy goats.
ADGA continues, “We look to provide management, genetic and other related services to members and the dairy goat industry, including the supervision and publication of official milk production records of dairy goats and issuing certificates of production and to promote and regulate matters pertaining to the history, publicity, breeding, exhibition and improvement of dairy goats.”
ADGA keeps records on over two million goats and 19,000 members. There are 1,200 sanctioned shows per year, such as those put on by the Black Hills Dairy Goat Association.
For more information or assistance with starting out with dairy goats, contact Tanja Miller at 307-290-2324 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Callie Hanson is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.