A Little About Us...
Wholesome Hill means more than just goats...
Wholesome Hill is both our farm and our lifestyle choice. We believe in stewardship. We believe livestock to be an added value to human lives. We believe that people, young and old, benefit from having livestock as part of their lives regardless of whether thats a few chickens in the backyard or a full time 500 head cattle operation. In our case that added value is goats. There is value in practicing stewardship. There is value in the ups and downs that come with that 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. And there are different goats for different purposes. Our main focus here is show stock but not all goats are best at show and our production herd, selected for different qualities are better at different functions than a show goat.
Our breeding 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 a few grade milk crosses and our Boer herd today carries with it much of the influence of the dairy goat world. While that influence is not necessarily genetic, its present in the way we manage our herds. Our breeding stock are evaluated carefully. Record keeping is a huge part of being able to make decisions that pair the traits we are selecting for. For example: we track parasite susceptibility as well as parasite tolerance, this allows us to know which animals would be a good option for people looking for a working herd to turn out and make them offspring for market sale.
On the other end of the scale we also track weekly gains in kids and young goats, this allows us to know which show lines have kids that will be show competitive earlier as opposed to which show lines will have kids who are later developing.
We think of our herd as three herds: colored, show, and functional. Our colored breeders are bred for their beautiful appearance and striking colors. While we seek to improve each new generation here, it’s a well known fact in genetics you must select one characteristic to “set” at a time. In our colored herd, the 2 characteristics that get priority are: color and functionality.
Our “show” herd is another group. These are the animals that are likely to produce competitive offspring and selection is quite different for this group. This is a small group of animals, the focus in this group is more on what is “show ring competitive”. We cull from this group excruciatingly hard, favoring clean teat structures, early development of pigment, and a physique that is correct. We also select for a temperament that means "easy to train to the show ring".
The third and possibly most important herd at Wholesome Hill is the functional herd. These are commonly called brood does. On some farms these are unregistered animals but here we have some that are grade, some that are percentages and some that are fullbloods. They are selected for a handful of traits that take priority over show traits: mothering ability, kidding ability, parasite resistance, hoof growth and personality are the most important factors. Why does personality matter? Because its easier to deal with goats who are of good temperament. Additionally, an oft neglected fact is that moms teach their young how to behave: a mother who teaches her young to run whenever humans 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, we are a breed stock farm in which the animals need to be docile, manageable, and safe for children to handle. The other reason this herd is so important is that when we utilize reproductive technologies such as flushing, embryo transfer, or IVF, these does are the mothers who raise those genetically superior babies. These females that can be counted on to birth their kids on their own, feed them on their own, and care for their young while teaching them how to behave are very important to us.
We also have a small group of Nubians that live amongst our Boers and are striking long legged beauties who are mild mannered and live for the time that people are giving them attention. They do not get nearly enough limelight for the incredible animals they are but they are integral here as we prize their milk rich in butterfat and their willingness to take on extra kids should the need arise. We're very proud of our Nubian girls, they hail from some of the very best Kastdemur, Tamris, and Pruittville lines and are the milkers one would expect from their heritage. These does are production oriented and selected for volume and quality of milk. We are nearly complete on casein testing of this entire herd.