“Goats rule, cattle drool.”
Say that in cattle country, and better watch the backside.
Admittedly, the Greenwood County cowboys arch a bit with the heckle, but they’ve softened in recent years.
“We really don’t dwell on it here in the Flint Hills, especially since Greg’s in the feed business. Of course, the comment’s always said tongue-in-cheek anyway, but it’s really been fun seeing how the interest in meat goats has grown since we moved here and developed our breeding program,” clarified Carla Davis at Davis Prairie Star Show Goats near Madison.
“Meat goats offer so many opportunities, especially as a learning experience for young people any age, any ability. They’re a great family project. Meat goats have really been good for our family. It’s a team effort for me, my husband Greg and our son Sam,” Davis said. “
“We started our herd as a project for Sam when he was seven. He’s 19, now, and goats have developed into a business,” continued Davis.
“I grew up in Comanche County, just north of the Texas Hill Country, raising Angora goats. We had 500 nannies,” Davis said.
“Goats were my Mom’s primary job. She kept us six kids busy, raising (goat) kids. But, with the high Mohair market, goats were what paid the bills. Even with all of the hard work, I really liked the goats; and showed goats, and also pigs, lambs, heifers. Such great memories.”
Angora goats are “hard to find” nowadays, since Mohair “markets crashed,” so Davis’ Texas family transitioned their business to remain profitable.
Boer meat goats didn’t arrive in this country until the early ’90s, but have become a major industry.
“My sister and dad raise Boer goats, and have great herd. So, we got our start with some older top producing does and a buck from them,” Davis said.
Husband Greg interjected. “We set out to raise show goats for Sam, and then started selling to some of the neighbor kids. They had success, and more youth wanted to buy our goats, so we invested in seed stock to keep improving the quality.”
Such was the demand, that the family hosts an annual show goat sale on the farm. “We’ll have our fifth auction on April 2,” Greg said.
. “Selecting for our seed stock is different from the registered purebred show ring. We produce wether and doe kids made to be shown in the market meat goat classes. These are all Boer goats sold in our sale, but nothing’s registered.”
All mating is done naturally, and as with all breeding programs, seed stock search is constant to keep ahead of the competition.
“We were at a meat goat seminar in Manhattan when I saw a buck that I really liked and was able to buy in partnership with Joseph Hubbard, who has a show goat herd at Olsburg,” Carla reflected.
That buck advanced the Prairie Star herd and was the start for more joint show goat developments with Hubbard. “All of Joseph’s does are here now. I kidded them out with my does during December and January, because Joseph was so busy lambing out his hair sheep,” Carla said.
With 48 does, Carla had a busy kidding season. “I love it, but most people really don’t understand the work involved, checking does at midnight, again at 2:30, then at five, and throughout the day,” Carla noted.
But, reward is worth the effort. “There are 72 kids (exactly 150 percent). That’s about normal. I had a lot of singles, not as many triplets, which is fine with me,” she added.
Showing home raised goats took Sam to many local championships as well as higher level competition class wins. “Showmanship has always really been important to Sam, so winning the showmanship division at the Arizona National was very special to him,” Mom admitted.
With a goal of learning production knowledge, Sam, a leader in the Madison Pacesetters 4-H Club, and other club members have formed the Greenwood County team that’s competed in the Kansas 4-H Livestock Sweepstakes, with livestock and meats judging divisions, in addition to skillathon and quiz bowl competitions.
“Our team won the state skillathon, and qualified for the National Quiz Bowl,” credited Carla, instrumental with Greg, and Jeanna Beeman in coaching the youth.
A freshman at K-State, Sam is still eligible to show in 4-H events this year, but Mom insisted, “I’m not going to do the work, so his youth show career ended at the Arizona National in December,” Mom said.
With a third of the chore crew away much of the year, Davis Prairie Star Show Goats looks to downsize. “We’re going to cutback; 45 ‘does’ total is a good number. Keep the best and breed to the best, to keep improving,” Carla said.
Sam looks to emphasize college meat judging like his parents both did while attending Tarleton State in Stephenville, Texas.
Carla works for Farm Bureau Financial Services, while she and Greg own Ranchland Feed, in addition to both serving numerous leadership roles for agriculture and youth in the industry.
“We’re always busy, but it’s exciting, trying to produce that next special project for a 4-H club member,” Carla said.