Dairy Goat Seminars Improve Herd Management and Marketing Practices

milking goats

With 184 licensed goat dairies and approximately 30,000 head of dairy goats throughout the state, Iowa’s dairy goat industry represents an important part of the agricultural economy. However, herd management issues such as caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE), mastitis and udder inflammation can result in a loss of saleable milk, impacting profits as well as goat health.

Additionally, with no goat milk market in northwest Iowa, producers stood to benefit from developing a profitable milk marketing plan.

Recognizing these concerns, a series of dairy goat seminars was developed by the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach dairy team, bringing together experts on the topics of health, feeding and milk marketing to extension offices in northeast and northwest Iowa.

Program Outcomes

Between Orange City and Edgewood, a total of twenty dairy goat herd owners learned from presenters and discussed a range of topics regarding goat health and building a goat milk market.

100% of respondents declared an increase in understanding of the topics discussed, and 100% of respondents indicated that they were mostly or completely satisfied with the program.

When broken down by topic, 60% of respondents indicated that they would adopt better management practices for CAE positive animals, 90% of respondents indicated that they would adopt better management practices regarding mastitis and 71% indicated that they would implement a dry doe strategy.

Impacting Iowans

Most participants estimated that the information they learned during the seminar would provide an increase in economic value on an annual per milking goat basis. 16% of respondents indicated a benefit of $26 to $50 per head, with a further 16% predicting a benefit of over $50 per head. Based on attendee responses, an estimated 42 additional people will receive the information from those who attended the program.

“Along with health and feeding aspects of this program, the primary focus was on increasing the understanding of what it takes to develop a dairy goat fluid milk market,” said Fred Hall, dairy specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “This is especially relevant to dairy goat producers in northwest Iowa. The evaluation in northwest Iowa found that 62% of producers were planning on expanding their operations in the next five years, and an additional 25% would expand if a milk market was available.”