NZ Dairy Winter 2022

| 9 nzdairy Sue Russell DAIRY PEOPLE » Stone Goats Their goats are the breed called Saanen, known for their ability to produce large volumes. Stone Goats Saanen breed keep on climbing 029 888 1955 nutrition and provided with a happy environment to live in they are a good animal to milk. “Another reason we shifted to New Image Group Nutritionals is that they’re a company that thinks outside the square in terms of uses for goat milk, beyond just the infant formula market.” Their goats are the breed called Saanen, known for their ability to produce large volumes. The goats are milked all year and Sharon says, if well cared for, can milk up to 12 years old. The farm is set up with an indoor/outdoor ow for the goats, who enjoy being inside in an environment where they are less susceptible to worms, but with open access to outside paddocks where they can enjoy doing what goats do – climbing on platforms and rocks. Working on the farm in a six on thre off roster are three milkers. At any one time, two milkers operate the plant. “Our son also does all our farm tractor and machinery maintenance and Kevin is Mr Fixit, also harvesting silage grown and spraying. I do a bit of everything to keep the business ticking over.” Pasture and lucerne silage are harvested and the total mixed ration is fed to the goats in the housing barns via drive through feed lanes. Another blend of whole maize and DDG blend is fed in the dairy shed while they are milked. Kevin says its surprising how similar goat and cow milk are. “The nutritional value far surpasses cow milk and there’s a big difference in taste between sheep and goat milk with sheep milk much stronger in smell,” he says. Looking back ont the journey so far the couple feel the business has evolved well. “There was plenty for us to learn as we came into the dairy goat sector knowing very little, but we found when we just had to get stuck in and do it, that was our best way of learning,” says Sharon. Nestled on 60ha of land in northern Waikato at Rangiriri is a dairy goat milking farm, home to 815 milking does and a further 125 kids growing old enough to join the herd as replacements in time. For Sharon and Kevin Stone, the decision to get into goal milking was a prudent one. Prior to establishing nearly a decade ago, Sharon had worked in real-estate while Kevin was a digger contractor. When it felt like the right time to take on a new path in life and do something together they looked at their plot of land and thought about how best to farm it. When the idea of milking goats arose, the couple talked to other suppliers and learnt as much as they could about all that’s involved in running a full-scale dairy goat farm. Much of the learning though, Sharon concedes, was from getting stuck in and just experiencing it. Developing the plot of land meant purchasing a milking parlour and fortunately, one retired sheep milking plant became available in the South Island. “We ew down to check it out and to organise how best to transport it up here. The company that built the milking plant disassembled it for us and the whole thing was freighted up to us here. We were on a tight budget and it came at a very good price. The shed itself, we built,” Sharon explains. The Stones rst milked for Hamilton-based Dairy Goat Co-operative, as shareholders, however in time the decision was made to supply a different processing plant, given constraints on being able to purchase more Dairy Goat Co-operative shares to better re ect the volume of goat milk the farm was producing. “We now supply New Image Group Nutritionals in Paerata,” Sharon explains. Asked whether goats take a lot of managing, Sharon says when properly looked after with good