For the Love of Goats
If you are still trying to decide which breed of goat to raise, or if you’re looking to add another breed to your farm, you might consider kinder goats. They were originally a cross between a pygmy and a Nubian, but today they are their own breed with their own breeder’s association. In this episode, I’m talking to Sue Beck, president of the Kinder Goat Breeders Association, who has been raising kinders for 12 years.
She talks about the milk, the meat, the myths, and the misconceptions that people have, and we also talk about the lure of getting goats from lines that tend to throw quadruplets or quintuplets.
And if you’ve ever said that you couldn’t eat meat from an animal that you knew when it was alive, Sue has a solution for you!
For more information on kinder goats
Kinders: A Dual-Purpose Goat Breed — a guest post written by Sue Beck
Today’s show was sponsored by Standlee Premium Western Forage, whose alfalfa pellets I have been using and loving for more than 10 years.
You can also listen and subscribe to the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, and iHeart.
For The Love Of Goats. We are talking about everything goat. Whether you’re a goat owner, a breeder or just a fan of these wonderful creatures we’ve got you covered.
This episode is brought to you by Standlee Premium Western Forage. And now here’s Deborah Neiman.
Hello, everyone and welcome back to another episode. Today I’m really excited that I am talking with Sue Beck of the Kinder Goat Breeders Association and we’re gonna be talking about these wonderful goats that she raises. I first met her in Wisconsin at a Mother Earth news fair several years ago, like 4 or 5 years ago and that is the first time I actually got to meet kinders in person. And I think that I might actually be a kinder breeder if I had discovered them before discovering Nigerians. But don’t tell my goats that, because they’re just so cute and I love the smaller size.
Deborah – So welcome, Sue.
Sue – Thank you so much. I’m thrilled to be here.
Deborah – So I’m sure the first question on everybody’s mind is what exactly is a kinder goat? I know a lot of people have not heard of them. So what is a kinder and why did you decide to breed them instead of something else?
Sue – Um, that’s a fantastic question. Kinder goats are a dual purpose, medium sized goat. Many people think of them as kind of a cross bred goat. That’s a cross between a Nubian and a pygmy, and that is actually what they began as. But they are considered their own breed. Now we have our own association. Um, and we’ve been around since 1986. Our goats are really just a perfect dual goat. They’re mid sized, they average about 115 to 135 lb at maturity. But that weight is in a short body. So they’re really short and stocky, which equates to good meat conversion. They grow fast and they only reach at maturity around 24 to 26 inches for the does. Our maximum height for bucks is 28 inches. Basically they’ve got a body that’s about … I would say their body is just a compact, full sized goat. So they’re easier for people to handle if you’re doing things on your own. And that’s actually what really got me interested in them is that I had small children at home and wanted a goat that I could handle myself and bucks that I could handle myself, that I could throw into my car if I had to and take to the vet without special equipment. And that weren’t going to be dangerous for my children if they were out helping me with things. So that was my biggest draw to the kinder goat. The thing that made me look into kinder goats in the first place was that I wanted to milk goats. I was concerned about the health of my children, I tried to do everything as naturally as possible, and I wanted to give my children as much natural food as I could and the easiest way for me to do that was to know what was going into our food in the first place while it was growing. So I was raising chickens, turkeys, and I got the goats to add milk and meat to that equation. And then when I first started researching the goats, I initially was looking for the milk aspect, but then realized that if I wanted milk, I was going to have extra babies. And in reality, there aren’t enough pet homes for all the little baby boy goats out there. And a lot of people that want pet goats aren’t really the greatest option for them. So I chose a goat that I could give a short, happy life, to, and then use for meat purposes as well.
4:32 Deborah – Mmm. How old were your children when you got the goats?
Sue – My oldest son was four. And my daughter was two so they were very little. My oldest one, the first 2 goats that we got, he sat out there every day to get them tame because they were a little bit wild when we got them. And they were really great. He could handle them. My oldest son was four years old, and I spent lots of time with them when he was little. And had no problem handling them. He never got hurt. He played with the babies. They really ended up being a great experience for all the kids.
5:25 Deborah – That’s awesome. Yeah, especially if they were that small because that would be easy for them to get hurt if the goats were big and not super friendly.
5:34 Sue – Yeah, I had horses when … Well, I’ve had horses throughout my kids’ lives. But when my kids were little, I had to move them from my home to a boarding facility because it just seems so dangerous if one of the kids got out into the field, they are so far below their line of vision that it scared me. So the goats were perfect. They were able to keep the grass and weeds and growth from taking over in the field and also gave us something in return.
6:07 Deborah – Awesome. So let’s talk about the milk a little bit, since that was the first thing that drew you to them. Exactly how much milk do they average? And I know there’s a curve. So, you know, people always try to get a number, but if so, feel free to, really nerd out on us here and talk about, like, where do they peak? And then where do they level off? And, you know, feel free to just get really detailed on this.
6:31 Sue – Okay. Perfect. So most goats if you’ve never had goats before, there is a period where goats increase in milk quantity and production, and their milk production is also based on how many babies they have. Some people now believe it is also based on the buck that they are bred, too. But I think the most important aspects there, how many freshinings they’ve had, how many babies they have and what they’re fed, their basic care. If they’re healthy, they’re gonna produce more milk. If they’re fed well, they’re obviously gonna produce more milk. One of the misconceptions about kinder goats is that you, as a homesteading goat, you can put these goats out in your field and that they will make a ton of milk and feed babies and lots of meat. The babies will grow very quickly and give you lots of meat, and you don’t really have to feed them that much. And that’s not really true. So I do like to tell people that you get out what you put in. First fresheners usually make less than they will in following years. So as a first freshener, which is the first time that they kid, you can generally expect if you’re milking twice a day to get between 3 and 4 pounds of milk. So that’s about a little bit under 2 half a gallons of milk, per goat, per day, milking twice today. Then in their second freshening, they will produce more, and they continue to produce more every freshening for the first 3 or 4 freshenings, and then they kind of level off. But by the second freshening, you should be able to expect between 4 and 8 lb of milk. So anywhere from half a gallon to a gallon of milk is the expectation from a kinder goat. The nice thing about that is that, although you do have to feed them, they don’t eat as much as, say, a full size milking goat. So, most people do grain their goats, but not nearly as much as a full sized goat. And they do get almost as much milk as you would get from an average full sized milking goat like a Nubian or possibly an Alpine. Saanens make more, I think but they do take a lot more resources to make that milk. The benefit to kinder goat milk is like Nigerians their milk is extremely high in butter fat, so it tastes much more like cows milk that people are accustomed to then some of the higher producing dairy goats like Saanens. When people do taste test between the two milks certainly the bigger full sized dairy goats that produce quite a bit of milk tend to have more of a goat-y flavor to their milk whereas kinder goat milk really is very sweet and creamy and you can barely taste the difference between that and whole cow milk. So that was certainly a benefit to me. I tell people the story that I got my goats sight unseen from someone in Missouri and had them scheduled to arrive after they were old enough to leave their moms. And in the meantime, I went to Whole Foods and got some milk to try because I have never had goats milk before. And it was the worst milk I ever had and I was really scared that that’s what I had signed up for. And when I finally did milk my goats, I was very, very surprised at how good it is. It’s nothing like store bought goat milk I can say.
10:40 Deborah – Yeah, I’ve never tried store bought go milk because I have heard from so many people that it tastes terrible. And people like you who said that they almost didn’t get goats because they thought it was going to taste like the store bought milk and then they heard something like, a lot people have gotten Nigerians to because they’ve got the higher butterfat, you know that, like, well, I heard that it would taste better, so I figured, well, just take a shot and see what happens. And then they’re so excited that it tastes really good.
11:15 Sue – Yeah, it is. It’s really surprising. And we drink our goat milk raw so it’s super easy, but it’s surprising how long it stays tasting good, too. I mean, people say that it will start tasting goat-y after a while, but it takes quite a while. We never have a problem, and we, with our family, we go through all the milk that we get, no matter how many goats we have in milk because we make cheese and ice cream. And soap, and yogurt. So we’ve always got a use for it. So it’s wonderful.
11:53 Deborah – You butcher them. And then about how much meat do you get from one?
12:00 Sue – That’s a great question. Again, this is one of those things that when you look at the numbers online and you hear about numbers from people it’s a little bit confusing, because when people talk about dress out numbers or final numbers, they give you a percentage. And, for example, kinder goats have a dress out weight of between 60 and 70%. But that’s not 60 to 70lb from a 100 lb goat. And I think some people are very surprised by that. So one of the biggest things that I tried to do is educate people and make sure that their expectations are realistic when they get any kind of goat. And realistically speaking with goats, you certainly aren’t going to get the hundreds of pounds that you get with a cow because they’re only 100lb to start out with. Basically, with our goats, we expect them to reach 70% of their full size by the time they’re about a year old. So you can expect because they average 115 to 135 at full size, you could expect a year old goat to be close to 100lb certainly. And with that size, if you take a 100lb goat, the actual weight of what you get back does depend on the cuts. So some people like to butcher goats and leave bones in like, leg of lamb. Or, you know, leg of goat in this case, and other big roasts. Other people just take them in and have everything made into ground meat, like sausages. If you took everything out and just got it back as ground meat, I think you could realistically expect to get about anywhere from 35 to 40lb of meat off of a goat. Which doesn’t doesn’t seem like a lot. But when you actually do the math, it’s quite good. It’s quite a good conversion rate. And the cost when you figure out the cost compared to buying the equivalent in the store quality meat, you come out ahead.
14:31 Deborah – Yeah, One of the things I always think about to, when I’m thinking about how much I get is like if you’ve got 35 to 40lb if you have it once a week, then that’s enough to last you for, you know, about 2/3 of a year. So that’s a lot of goat meat.
14:49 Sue – Yeah, it’s a really good point and depending on what your goals are if you’re selling it, I know quite a few people in the US are now getting interested in using more goat meat. There are a lot of restaurants here near where I live. I live between Milwaukee and Chicago, and there’s some fantastic restaurants that are based on meals made by goats. Not made by goats, made with goat. Using you know, they incorporate the cheese and the meat into the products, and they’re paying a premium price for goat meat right now. So it’s not just what you can use yourself. But really, the market has increased so much in the last few years that we’re sometimes getting, I’m not sure exactly what it is right now, but I know people have been getting between $3 and $4 a pound for live goats. Which means you can get, you know, between $300 and $400 for a goat that is a year old, and that is with really no advertising. It’s just taking it to a sale barn. Very little work once, you know, once they’re born and then you basically you’re just taking care of him the way with the rest of your herd.
16:18 Deborah – I think we charge $6 a pound hanging weight for goats, which, of course, is gonna be less because you’re talking about the weight as 60-70%. So it sounds cheaper, but really, it comes out to about the same thing. You know, the same thing you were saying about, like, $4 a pound live weight.
16:37 Sue – Yeah. There are people who are now actually starting to breed kinders just for meat. They really did start out as a homesteading goat that people were using as backyard goats to feed their family and to supply the family with milk and soap and cheese and ice cream. But with the influx in interest in goat meat we have had a few people begin to use them strictly as meat goats and get basically build big herds just for that. We’ve also had quite a few people contact us and purchase kinder bucks to use with their boer herds to increase the production of babies, because what they’ve been seeing is that using kinder bucks and then keeping the kinder boer crosses they can maintain the larger size because they don’t want the smaller size that we have, but they can maintain the larger size. They can maintain the muscling, but they increase milk production in their does which helps the baby’s grow faster.
17:54 Deborah – Oh, that sounds fascinating,
17:57 Sue – So we really are expanding into the meat side of the market quite a bit more now, and people are really happy with the growth. They’re, generally speaking,I would say this is a huge stereotype or generalization, but from what I’ve heard and the feedback I’ve had they do tend to be better mothers than boer goats, they do make more milk than a lot of boer goats, not that I have anything against boers, but just as a comparison they don’t make, as you know, they’re not as big when they’re full grown, but they are easier for a lot of people to handle. So the people that we’re seeing get into these kinder goats as meat goat herds tend to be more women that are interested in doing this as a full time job, or as something that they do on the side until they retire and then move into It is a full time retirement option, and it’s working really well for them because of their smaller size, ease of care, they can feed themselves they’re not goats that have to be dewormed every six or eight weeks, as a rule, they are pretty hardy, and they’re really great moms. Most of my goats have triplets regularly and they take care of all of them without me having to supplement. I have girls that do have quads on a regular basis that I don’t need to supplement. I have supplemented one. One of my does had five babies a few years ago, and I supplemented those babies because she just couldn’t keep up. But as long as they have good feed they can take care of quite a few babies and do a good job of it. And I’ve never had a baby lost, not one. And I leave them with moms all the time. So I think that says something about their care?
20:03 Deborah – And now a quick word about today’s sponsor, Standlee Premium Western Forage. They make alfalfa pellets and timothy hay pellets, which we use whenever we can’t get excellent alfalfa or grass hay locally. For more than 10 years I’ve been using and recommending Standlee Premium Western Forage.
Deborah – You’ve mentioned quite a few misconceptions and myths already that you hear from people that you’ve corrected in the podcast so far, which is great. Are there any other misconceptions people call or email you with some idea about kinders that just turns out to be completely wrong, that you’d want to correct?
20:49 Sue – The big things are just that yeah, people want goats that they don’t have to care for basically. That is sometimes I’m sure across the board. You know, every breed probably has people looking for goats, so they don’t have to deworm or feed or, you know, basically take care of. And that’s not ever gonna be the case with any animal, but people in general I hear the feedback and I get that people are really surprised by how friendly kinder goats are. How not aggressive they are, how well they get along in a herd. In fact, just this year I’ve had a number of people call me, and in our conversations they’ve asked me how I handle integrating bucks with one another because my bucks all live together. And I just put them in together. I mean, I put my 10 week old babies when I separate them from moms they go in with the big boys and everybody’s nice. And people are really surprised at that. At their personality. That we can just go out and get a buck and take him out on a leash and they’re really well behaved. I’ve never had a problem with an aggressive buck at my farm. And I’ve been doing this for 12 years. So yeah, and the same thing with the girls. I think people are surprised by their personalities. They really have quirky little personalities, and they really do end up being almost more like dogs than like livestock in a lot of ways.
22:23 Deborah – Yeah, I said for years that I could never eat a goat because they were so much like dogs. I just kind of felt like I had these vegetarian pet dogs that I happened to be able to milk. And, then one year we wound up with 29 bucklings, and as you said, you can’t always sell all of them as pets. And that is exactly what happened when we had 29 bucklings.
22:52 Sue – Yeah, it’s hard.
22:55 Deborah – So I think we were eight or nine years into it when that happened.
23:00 Sue – Oh, and it doesn’t get easier does it? I think we’ve been in it years and years and years, and it’s still the most difficult thing.
23:10 Deborah – Yeah, and it’s funny. I think I had a buck that was born. He’s three years old now. He’s a wether now it’s really funny because I think he knew that the extras got eaten because he was insanely friendly. Like he always walked up to me and, like, looked up at me like you love me, don’t you? And I, and I still have him he’s three years old, 3-4 years old now. Basically, his job is like the new wether of the herd. He’s out there. He’s my heat detector. Lets me know when the girls were in heat and things like that. I have a fence jumping buck right now who I keep catching. I caught him out there with a doe that’s like 10 years old and shouldn’t be bred again. And she’s flagging. And I’m like, No! And it’s like, all right, you are getting locked in the barn for an indeterminate amount of time. So the wether is in there is his companion.
24:19 Sue – It’s really nice having one or two miscellaneous goat. I’ve got some girls that are retired, my girls that have worked for me for years. Same thing. They just get to hang out and relax. If I can find him a pet home, great. But finding pet homes that are going to keep goats for their lifetime and actually want to spend time with them after their kids get older, I think it’s hard. There’s a balance where you have to find people that understand livestock so I can understand that they are livestock. They’re not gonna be, although they act like dogs, they’re not dogs. They’re not gonna be happy in your house or by themselves in a doghouse in your backyard. And at the same time you want them to be loved like a dog so it’s hard. I’ve had really good luck finding people that want weed eaters so they have a job. They’ve got a purpose out there eating all the underbrush and the stuff these people don’t want, but they’re also treated as pets, and that’s been the best option for finding homes for wethers. It’s hard but what I found a little bit easier, I’m lucky enough to have a few other people nearby that raise kinders as well as me, and one really nice thing to do is find somebody that’s willing to swap with you at the end of the summer. So you don’t have your goats. It’s easier if I don’t know the goat, it’s easier than putting a face to it.
26:08 Deborah – Ah, I’ve never thought about that before, but that is an interesting idea to be able to do that.
26:15 Sue – Yeah, I mean, I have a friend and my friend and I send them together and take the other person’s because we raised them the same way. And we’ve got the same, general ideas about how we want the fed, how we want them taken care of, what’s going into them and so then when they come back, yes, we just swap.
26:41 Deborah – Okay, so that is an option for those people who say that they could never eat an animal that they knew when it was alive. Because I know people say that
26:53 Sue – I think the other things that people are interested in knowing about kinders or the things that people ask the most about are how they do in various climates. Yeah, I think people are always worried about where they live. I can say that goats in general do great in any climate. The hardest thing for goats, I think, is wet climates because of the parasites and their feet. If you’re in an area that gets a lot of rain, make sure you have a nice dry spot for your goats to go all the time. But as far as cold weather, they do fantastic as long as they have good shelter. The one thing that I tell anyone that’s interested in getting goats is find a good mentor. Find someone that lives near you that can help you if you have a question, have a concern. I’ve been really lucky with the person that I originally got goats from giving me tons of good advice and always being run on hand for me. And I’ve also met some great goat people around me that have different breeds of goats but they’re so willing to help with any questions or concerns I have. And it’s probably saved some of my goats’ lives at times. That’s one of my first recommendations to people. And the other things, kind of general things, like stay on top of your health. It’s easier to keep a goat healthy than to make it healthy once it’s sick. So I always remind people to just look at your goats every day. If there’s something that seems a little bit off figure it out right away, instead of waiting until your goat is really sick, And then as far as kinders go, I mean, I think that the things that people are usually most interested in besides, how well they do is how many babies they have. People love the idea of having lots of babies, but getting goats that have four or five babies on a regular basis isn’t always a blessing. And sometimes you do have to end up having to help feed babies, they grow more slowly than if you have two or three and it’s just harder on your doe. So trying to find goats that have a whole litter might not be the best idea,
29:33 Deborah – Yeah, we used to think that and like everybody, I think everybody thinks the idea of having 4-5 babies is just so exciting. And, we thought it was really cool in the beginning, too. And now that we’ve had five sets of quintuplets and I don’t even know how many quads we’ve had, I’m over it. Yeah, so over it. And I’m just like, please, no. Like five times there. I have thought a doe looked very pregnant when she was only two months after being bred and all five times it’s because she had quintuplets, because normally they don’t look even remotely, they don’t look like they are pregnant at all until 3-4 months, maybe even five, like some of them could hide it really well. And now I’m just, like no. But you do figure out it is genetic. And so, like every single one of my goats that has ever had quintuplets all goes back to this one buck. When I bought him his mom had never had more than four. However, a couple years after I bought him, she had six.
30:41 Sue – Oh, my gosh.
30:42 Deborah – So that’s where it comes from. It all goes back to him. And, at this point, I have basically retired all but one doe that has him, within the last couple of generations. Because one time it was actually a great granddaughter of his. I’m like, What are you doing having 5!
31:10 Sue – Oh my gosh. I know. Well it takes a lot out of your girls, too.
31:14 Deborah – Yes, it does.
31:17 Sue – They can do that but if you’re breeding every year or even every other year you have to figure after four freshinnings, they’ve already had 20 babies. Even the best goat is going to start breaking down at some point, right?
31:36 Deborah – Yeah. And two of the does that had the quints did it twice.
31:42 Sue – Oh, my gosh.
31:43 Deborah – And it was a mother/daughter and the mother, the second time she had quints because she was having quads in between her quints. The second time she had quints she actually died from a ruptured uterus.
Sue – Oh, because it’s just so stretched out.
32:00 Deborah – Yeah, and she was nine years old when she did that, Which normally breeding a nine year old, is not a big deal. Like I usually breed until they’re 10 and they’re fine. Her daughter had quintuplets, when she was 4-5 and I was not going to breed her the following year because I’m like, Okay, I cannot trust you. She already had quads a couple times, and then she had quints, and like, okay, I’m giving you a year off. And unfortunately, I was traveling and because of mistakes made when I was out of town, she wound up pregnant again and had five again. And her body condition just plummeted. I just took two of them at birth and was like, you are being bottle fed. So she only has to feed three. But her body condition, I mean, I just retired her.
Sue – Yeah, because at that point, I mean, you take babies after they’re born but they’ve spent the time growing five babies in their belly for five months. So it’s going to be hard on them no matter what. I have one that had quads almost every single time. And even quads took a lot of her. She’s a big old girl, has beautiful babies, but I think she’s coming nine years old. And I decided you had more babies than most of my other girls have,you have to retire because it is. It’s just a lot on their body. So yeah. So that’s one of the things that I definitely don’t encourage. Yeah, we’ll try to find lines that have tons of babies. And don’t try to buy the spottiest goats. Our goats come in all different colors so you’ll see a lot of moon spots. But the most colorful goats always have plain babies. So don’t base your decision on that. It’s fun seeing different colors. But go for good confirmation and good udders. One other thing I did want to mention before we go is the benefit of having goats like ours. I know Nigerians and kinder goats have really high butterfat, and one of the things that that translates into is really good cheese. So cheese makers buy our goats. I know I have a friend that has Nubians and Kinders and her Nubians produce about half the amount of cheese per pound that her kinders do.
34:32 Deborah – So yeah, I noticed the same thing when I had, LaManchas, was that, my Nigerians, if I would make cheese with pure LaMancha milk that I would get half as much cheese as I did if I used a gallon of the Nigerian milk. And I’ve heard people, I know somebody that raised Nigerians and Alpine’s. And she said the same thing.
34:57 Sue – Yeah so, really, I mean, if you’re in it for the cheese, the quantities of milk don’t matter. I mean, if you’re getting this same amount with half the milk and your goats produce half the milk, but also cost only half the amount to feed you’re winning in the end. Because you’re coming out with the same amount of cheese at the end of the process for half of everything. It is really a good deal. Yeah. So you know, I think if people are interested in finding out more information about kinder goats, they can go to our website. It’s kindergoatbreeders.com. We also have evaluation programs, we have quite a few goats on milk tests. You can see our milk test results there and see the butterfat protein amounts on our website. We do have sanctioned shows throughout the country, and we just got a great bunch of people that own kinder goats. Goat people are the best people in the world, and kinder goat owners are so encouraging. They’re so helpful to one another and it feels like a big family. So you’re not just getting goats, you’re getting a whole community of support and friendship. We’ve got a classified page and we do on our website have a link to breeders that choose to be advertised on our website. There’s a map and you can click on the various breeders and go to their web sites. And we also have a link to shows. We do an online show every year, which is really fun. And it’s a great way for people to learn about conformation and to compare, you know, kinder goats to the breed standard and learn more about them that way.
36:53 Deborah – Well, this has been so much fun talking about these goats, and like I said, I’d probably have kinders if I discovered them first because I love the ears. The ears, they’re so cute, and then you get all the benefits that you get with the Nigerians, plus the cute ears. So, like the ears are just the icing on the cake. Yes. I think that they
37:14 Sue – Yes, I think that they are a really fun goat. I mean, they definitely are the perfect goat for me. I feel like they’re the best of both worlds. Between the full size goats, the mini goats they are yeah, the perfect combination. And like I said in the past, when you’re ready for babies, I am gonna load up my car and make you a true believer in kinder goats.
37:42 Deborah – And this is truly dangerous because I know you live, like, right up the road in Wisconsin from me..
37:51 Sue – If you find some in your yard at some point, don’t be surprised.
37:58 Deborah – Well, thank you so much. This has been a lot of fun, and maybe we’ll do it again sometime..
38:03 Sue – Awesome! That would be great. Thank you. I love the podcast and can’t wait to see what comes next.
38:07 Deborah – Okay, Great. Thanks!
And that’s it for today. If you haven’t already subscribed, be sure to do that so that you don’t miss another episode. And it would be great if you could leave a review for us because that would help other people to find us. Thanks again to today’s sponsor Standlee Premium Western Forage. And be sure to join us next week when we talk to a meat goat breeder who raises her goats exclusively on grass. See you then. Bye.
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