Leaning Tree Boer Goats - Leslie Bader-Robinson & David Robinson
1. How did you get started in the Boer goat industry? I initially got into goats for 2 reasons: (1) because my husband David has a grandson who had problems digesting cow’s milk, and (2) because we started an alpaca herd that I wanted a bank of frozen colostrum to give cria, if needed. We wanted goats and goat milk/colostrum. We purchased 4 nice 75% Boer does from a breeder near Othello, WA (Tina Meyette). These does had Capriole breeding, and they were a great start to a productive herd! After a very short time, both David and I got hooked on Boer goats, and I started purchasing full bloods from a herd dispersal in southern Idaho. In 1 weekend I purchased 7 fullblood yearling doelings, and the next weekend David went back to pick up a full blood buck named Basil, who had Chalk Creek genetics.
2. What does your operation look like today? Our herd grew via reproduction and very key purchases over the years to around 100 does and up to 9 adult bucks, as well as up to 7 Nubian does to support our bottle babies. At one point, during kidding season, we had about 450 goats on our farm! While that 450 number would drop drastically when most of the kids were sold in the spring and summer, it was a HUGE job to care for that number! Then, a close call with an ovarian cancer diagnosis with 80 does coming due to kid made me rethink the numbers that I want to run here! We made it through that experience very well, but only through the extremely hard work of my husband and son! In 2016, I drastically reduced the herd, but still retained some of my absolute favorites, and a few old girls that were (and still are) key foundation animals to my show string. In 2016 and 2017, I stayed home from the shows, and enjoyed a nice garden and added some chickens! Currently, we have a herd of about 30 does in production, 6 breeding bucks, about 25 replacements (some of who will be offered in 2018 production sales), and a couple retirees that have earned their good life. We find our herd size easy to manage to my standards, yet life is still bustling during kidding! The balance is there… Many of our does produce quads, but that’s not a problem, as we have tested dairy does for colostrum/milk, and Workaway volunteers to help feed to bottle babies once they are on full feedings. I also like to pick the best kid as a bottle baby, so that I can retain and show them. Bottle babies, if taught manners early on, are so easy to catch and manage as adults! I’m not much of a “goat wrangler” these days, so I appreciate a mellow Boer goat!
3. What do you enjoy the most about the Boer goat industry? I love everything about raising goats, including genetics, herd husbandry (maybe that is an old term; I mean reproduction), ruminant nutrition, health, recordkeeping, finance, marketing, emergency owner or veterinary care, fencing, shelters, and of course showing to see how the goats look compared to all the other breeders’ best! It is all fun to me!!
4. Who was an inspiration to you or assisted you in improving your herd and how did they help you? There were 2 equally key people that were very helpful to me when I was developing my herd: (1) Dr. Robert Dressler of 2DOX Boers in TX was a great early inspiration to me. I was shopping for 1 buck kid from him, and I ended up buying 3: 1 Tarzan son, 1 Bingo son & 1 Aflac son! They were the best goat purchase I ever made, as the 3 incredible quality buck kids were complementary to each other in the kids they produced as breeding bucks! While this was years ago, and I’m not well-known today to Dr. Dressler, I did use him as a sounding board for some breeding and management questions, and found him to be a wonderful source of good information! I remember and very much appreciate the knowledge and quality buck kids that Dr. Dressler provided to me. (2) Another key person that was an incredible help to me was Terry Brown. I so appreciate the quality of Terry Brown’s Capriole goats, her absolute honesty, her competitiveness yet grace, and her friendship; back then and today!
5. What has been your biggest challenge as a producer? As a producer, my biggest challenge has been to make it an honestly profitable business; in the black. Back in the days when I worked as a Systems Analyst, I had a great amount of “extra funds” to sink into the purchase of any goat I wanted, new and expensive shelters, unlimited showing, etc. These days, I’m forcing the herd to pay for it’s feed, supplies, and any unexpected vet bills. In 2018, I plan to try showing at least once or twice again, and plan to make goat sales pay for that, as well… We’ll see how it goes! It’s hard and not fun, but I believe that with proper planning and management, it’s possible. 6. What are you most excited about in the coming year? Every day to me is a gift, so even day-to-day life is exciting! I can’t wait to see the new kids produced this season, and look forward to returning as an exhibitor, if possible, to the April Fools Show where I get to visit with old and new friends and see their incredible Boer goats.