MEEKER | The Willey family started raising goats six years ago when they got one goat for their son Matthew’s fourth birthday. Today they have 92 goats—39 kids, 5 bucks, 12 yearlings, 35 mature does, and one wether—and that first goat has turned into a full-fledged family business.
They started with cows on their Little Beaver farm, but soon realized cows were more than they wanted to handle.
“Ron was the only one who could feed the bull,” Beth said. Switching to goats made sense in more ways than one.
Boer goats, which are common around the world as a source of meat, and considered a delicacy in some cultures, were only introduced to the United States from South Africa in the early 1990s. A full-grown goat eats just one-fifth of the hay a cow requires, and requires far less space to raise and maintain. The meat is worth more at auction, too, but the Willeys sell most of their goats to 4-H kids.
“It’s hard to find goats,” Beth said. They’ve sold their goats to 4-Hrs around the state, including a brother/sister team from North Park: Quinten and Dally Fletcher, ages 12 and 10.
‘They called late spring last year asking for a market wether that they could show at their fair in 2017, and breeding stock, so that they could start raising their own goats. We didn’t really have any breeding animals for sale, but after listening and asking several questions, we were able to come up with three does that would fit their needs for breeding stock. They purchased one doeling, one 2-year-old and one 4-year-old,” Beth said via email.
“Throughout the summer they kept in touch with us, gleaning information and sharing updates on the goats. When they took their goats to the [Jackson County] fair they won Grand Champion Market Goat along with Grand and Reserve Champion Breeding animals.
Throughout the summer they were formulating their business plan and came up with DQ Goats, Psalm 34:8, ‘Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.’ They want to give anyone who buys a goat from them an ice cream bar. The interaction with Dally and Quinten, in person and via phone, was a true blessing for our entire family. Seeing their excitement and listening to them solidify their partnership and business warmed our hearts and validated our goals of helping others grow in the knowledge and excitement that surrounds the goat industry along with our desire to help others succeed.”
Willey Family goats have also won grand champion market goat in Adams County, as well as earning grand champion open class breeding animal, reserve champion carcass contest, grand champion breeding animal 4-H and open class, and grand champion open class breeding doe at the RBC fair between 2015 and 2017.
The latest crop of babies started coming in December, with 30 kids born between Dec. 19 and Christmas, four more on Dec. 26, one on Dec. 27, two on Dec. 30 and New Year’s Day twins: 39 new babies in two weeks.
With goat meat making great gains in popularity in the United States, it’s another option for ag producers looking for ways to get started in the business or to diversify.
More photos: https://rioblancoheraldtimes.smugmug.com/Willey-Family-Goats/