Who’s that trip-trapping over my land?
By LAURA CARLSON
NEVADA – The familiar nursery story comes to mind as kids leaped around the yard on a recent sunny spring afternoon. Some kids were even standing on their moms’ backs before leaping off to run laps and head-butt each other.
These aren’t human kids; they’re goat kids.
“Those aren’t even her kids on her back,” said Aaron Steele, co-owner of Goats on the Go, LC. “The Kiko breed are patient and good moms. That’s why we often choose them for our breeding herd. Kikos are strong and hearty and produce healthy kids.”
Goats on the Go, located north of Nevada, is a targeted grazing business that Steele and his business partner Chad Steenhoek, of Ames, started in 2012 as a response to their belief in conservation and sustainable agriculture.
Steele’s herd includes breeding bucks as well as does, raising over 70 kids.
He said the goats have taken on many different types of jobs.
“We were hired by the Friends of Ada Hayden to clear out invasive vegetation on the south lake shore at Ada Hayden (Heritage Park) in Story County,” Steele said. “It takes 40 goats grazing for about three to five days to clear one acre. The job was two and a half acres, so they were finished with the job in about three weeks.”
And the goats are always protected while working.
“We put up temporary electric fencing to protect the herd on job sites from predators, both animal and human, provide water tanks and check them frequently,” he said.
Dozens of kids and does fill the pen on the Steele farm.
Following a five-month gestation period, Kiko does birth and nurse their single, twin or triplet kids for several months. Then it is time to go to work with the herd.
Goats on the Go has grown to include 14 affiliates in Ohio, Missouri, Oklahoma, Iowa and Texas.
While the business started as a specialized grazing option for customers needing vegetation removed without chemicals, the goat meat industry will be part of the business this year.
“The sky’s the limit for the goat industry in the United States,” said Steele. “Goat meat is the most popular red meat purchased in America and half of the goat meat eaten is imported from other countries. Goats can be used for targeted grazing jobs to reduce or eliminate the use of herbicides.”
“Goats can also go where a tractor cannot safely be used,” he added. “Then they can be harvested for meat. That is good sustainable agriculture. It is a win-win for the producer and the consumer.”
With plans to expand to online meat sales, Steele said they use the Colfax Locker for processing.
“They’ve done a good job for us,” he said. “There’s a lot of room for growth in the goat industry and we plan to be a part of that market.”
Steele went on to say that Goats on the Go believes “there is no other domestic livestock animal that effectively converts low-quality feed like weeds into red meat. Goats extract nutrition from plants that other animals will not eat, on land that is not or cannot be used for crop production.”
“Meat goats add to the overall nutrition available to feed a growing world population that is asking for this red meat.”
Goats on the Go can be reached through its website, goatsonthego.com, or by calling Steele at (515) 257-6846.
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