Yoder discusses changes in the goat industry

By Molly Roberts
Posted 6/23/21

Victor Yoder said that within a 10-mile radius of his goat farm, there are probably about 50 other goat farms.

“This is the largest pool of goat farmers in the world,” Yoder said. …

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Yoder discusses changes in the goat industry

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Victor Yoder said that within a 10-mile radius of his goat farm, there are probably about 50 other goat farms.

“This is the largest pool of goat farmers in the world,” Yoder said. “My dad and my uncle and a few others were some of the first people that started with goats. They launched it in this area and it grew from there.”

Yoder, who also owns and operates Creekside Ebikes, has a 320-head goat farm in rural Kalona.

“I grew up farming goats and I enjoy it,” Yoder said. “There are hectic times. There are times, like during kidding season, when you’re just like, ‘The last thing I want to see is another goat.’ Especially when you only see a couple hours of sleep a night. But what it all comes down to is that I love working with the goats, especially when they’re young. I enjoy working with the kids.”

Yoder’s goats are fed hay in the bunks, then grain when they’re moved into the milking parlor. Right now, grain prices are high. Yoder said his feed costs are about 50% higher than they were a year ago.

Other things have changed in the goat industry, as well.

“There used to be two main companies and they both got bought out by the same company, so now we’re not really under competition,” Yoder said. “I was little disappointed when that happened because it cut out the competition, plus the new company is very large. The hold the fourth largest share in the cow’s milk industry, so they’re corporate. We don’t see the field support that we would at one time.”

Fluid goat milk is hard to find in the grocery store; everything Yoder produces, and everything else from the company, is made into cheese or yogurt. But Yoder drinks goat milk at home.

“I grew up drinking goat milk and part of the reason our family started with it in the first place is that my mom is intolerant to cow’s milk,” Yoder said. “My uncle wanted to have a dairy but he wanted something more manageable. He had Jerseys before that. For myself, I grew up with it, with the taste of it, I think it’s better quality and it’s more digestible. A lot of it is what you get used to.”

Yoder said that even if he goes to visit his parents in his childhood home, the goat milk he drinks there will taste different than the milk he produces on his own farm.

“When I moved from my home over to here, I didn’t have goats for about half a year and when I went back to drinking goat milk I was like ‘Wow, this stuff tastes goaty.’”

Yoder’s busiest times are during kidding season, near the end of January, when about 200 of his goats are having kids at the same time. Milk production peaks around mid-April. And right now, mid-June, is probably one of the smoothest times of the year, Yoder said.

Milking and chores take about two and a half hours in the morning and evening. During the hot, dry summers, Yoder only has to clean the bedding for the goats about once a week; when it’s cooler and wetter in the spring he sometimes has to bed every other day. In between chores, Yoder also spends the days vaccinating kids, maintaining equipment and keeping fences maintained.

Raising goats is what Yoder has known nearly his entire life.

“All in all, goats in the community have been a blessing,” Yoder said. “Economically it’s been a big benefit for the community. We’re lucky to raise goats.”

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