is more than just goats...
Wholesome Hill is both our farm and our lifestyle choice. We believe in stewardship. We believe that people, young and old, benefit from having livestock as part of their lives regardless of whether that's a few chickens in the backyard or a full time cattle operation. There is value in the ups and downs that come with the caring for and tending to of animals. There's also value in having goals, determining a plan for those goals and the positive esteem that results from achieving goals.
Our goals are about producing a quality goat, a goat who fulfills its purpose. There are different goats for different purposes. Our main focus here is show stock but not all goats are designed for show. Our production goats are selected for different qualities and different functions than a show goat. We label these types for clarity of our customer base: show stock versus production stock. This will become easier as we are cordoning off our production oriented herd into Progressive Boers in which Jason is the primary owner and Wholesome Hill (owned by Tabatha) will retain show type.
Our herd consists of 35-40 females who range from brood does to top shelf, grand champion, donor does. Tabatha got her start in goats with dairy crosses ; our management of the program today carries with it much of the influence of the "dairy way". Our breeding stock is evaluated carefully. Our animals are hand bred. Our animals are reared with human interaction, parasite control, and every opportunity to reach their genetic potential. Record keeping is important to us, it is the key to making sound selections and pairings. For example: we track parasite susceptibility and tolerance, this allows us to know which animals would be a good fit for people looking for a working goat to turn out and produce offspring for market sales (production goat). We also track temperament from generation to generation. Temperament influences whether an animal is easy to train, this is important to the young showman who does not have extra time to waste "taming down" an animal.
We also track fertility, kidding, mothering, and less obvious traits such as hoof growth, content of milk (casein, butterfat), and scrapie resistance.
We maintain a completely clean tested herd. All adult animals here are tested free of "the big 3". This means we test for CAE, CL, and Johne's annually and have a protocol we follow that includes quarantine until worm free with clean biosecuirty tests of ALL newly arriving animals.
We have 4 true types of goats here:
Show Type - these are bred for the shape, conformity, and correctness that is required to show in ABGA shows
Production Type - these are bred for high fertility, easy kidding, quality mothering, and weight maintaining
White Mafia - these are bred for size, productivity, temperament, type and yes, white coloration, all of these can trace their blood back to Skittles herself
Nubian - these are dairy does we have culled very hard and put together a group with superior milking AND size. All test single gene high casein with the goal of all breeding Nubians having a minimum 1 copy scrapie resistant status as well as double high casein by end of 2023.
We do not grade our goats based on color. There are traditionals and colored goats in both Production and Show Types.
Our “show type" is a fairly small group. These are the animals that are likely to produce competitive offspring or are competitive themselves. The focus in this group is not just show correct but also “show competitive”. We cull from this group excruciatingly hard; show correct is only the beginning. We also select for a temperament that means "easy to train to the show ring". These animals range greatly in the investment required to attain them, because much more than just show correctness, size, and temperament influence their value. Amongst this group, pedigree, and the fame or ennoblements in their relatives also plays a role. All of our bucks are show correct and selected for a specific trait set.
The heaviest working group here is the "production type". These are commonly called brood does. On some farms these are unregistered animals but here we have some that are commercial, some that are percentages and some that are fullbloods. They are selected for a handful of traits that take priority over show traits: kidding ability, mothering ability, parasite resistance, overall health, hoof growth and personality are the most important factors. Why does personality matter in a goat that is not a show goat? Because its easier to deal with goats who are docile and easy to handle. An oft neglected fact is that mothers teach their young how to behave: a mother who teaches her young to run whenever people need to catch them is a mother who makes the herd harder to work. We are not a goat ranch where it benefits the herd to run from people to stay safe, we are a breed stock farm in which the animals need to be docile, manageable, and safe for children to handle.
The "White Mafia" herd have a special coding in their registration. Skittles original tag number was B257, if you look at the herd identifiers on ABGA's "blue screen" and put our name in, you will see some that have an identifier WH257. That designation here means the animal has the signs at registration that we require for them to be considered White Mafia - size (we are able to make a pretty accurate predicition on size potential even when they are VERY young kids), their direct mother or father must be a Skittles descendant, their mother must be top score on mothering as whole, and they must have shown the temperament as kids that indicate to us they will be gentle, manageable animals if grown out properly. This means we are sometimes slower to register these goats and not all Skittles descendants get the label WH257, only those that qualify here at these standards.
Our Nubian herd is in the most exciting culling and growth cycle there is at Wholesome Hill. We are removing does who do not cut the standard of volume production or crossing them with bucks who have volume as a primary feature. We do not show our Nubians though they hail from show lines. Several people have gotten a Wholesome Hill Nubian and are getting wins with them but that is not the main purpose. Ours must be big big goats who have both milk volume and desire to milk. We are nearly complete on casein testing of this entire herd. We do offer kids from these does as bottle babies but these are usually spoken for before they are born.