South Dakota’s 1st annual Meat and Dairy Goat Workshop was held in Brookings in July. Eighty-three participants from South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa attended the event featuring industry expert presentations and hands-on training.

The Value Added Agriculture Development Center (VAADC) along with collaborators South Dakota Specialty Producers Association (SDSPA) and South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension organized the workshop at South Dakota State University’s Alfred Dairy Science Hall.

“Interest was high for everyone there and information was well divided between meat and dairy producers,” said Tom Barnes, SDSPA Vice President and goat producer.  Six highly qualified speakers addressed goat production challenges and solutions for both meat and dairy goats.

Dr. Gerardo Caja, world renown small ruminant researcherof Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain, offered meat goat expertise during a hands-on session; Dr. Steve Hart, E (Kika) de la Garza Institute for Goat Research- Langston University of Oklahoma, discussedsmall ruminant nutrition, parasite control and marketing for goats; Dr. Alvaro Garcia, SDSU Extension Director of Agriculture and Natural Resources, spoke on raising a small goat dairy herd in South Dakota; Dr. Joe Klein, Veterinarian from White, SD, spoke on small ruminant veterinary protocol; Dr. Maristela Rovai, SDSU Assistant Professor & Extension Dairy Specialist, spoke on main aspects of milk quality and lactation physiology of dairy goats; and Dr. Ahmed Salama, SDSU Post-doctorate Associate in the Dairy and Food Science Department discussed heat and cold stress effects on goat performance.

“Goat and dairy producers were able to take away excellent knowledge on goat health, feeding, lactation and handling from some of the nation’s leading small ruminant experts,” said Dr. Maristela Rovai, SDSU Extension Dairy Specialist. Attendees gathered practical information, which they can incorporate, into their operations to grow better meat and dairy goats.

Vendors and sponsors were the American Goat Federation, Sioux Nation Ag Center and Pleasant Valley Goat Farm. SDSU Dairy and Food Science Department hosted the workshop and provided an area for the goats by Stargazer Stables and Farm, Parker, SD for the hands-on session.

A delicious goat taco meal was prepared and served by two SDSU Animal Science Graduate Student Association members and meat lab manager.  SDSPA gathered all the local food used for the meal, cookies and breaks. The attendees were also treated to goat cheese from Oklahoma and ice cream from the SDSU Dairy Bar.

“The inaugural workshop offered a platform to initiate value added potential discussions,” said Cheri Rath, Executive Director of the VAADC. She added, the VAADC will begin working with meat and dairy goat producers identified at the workshop, along with any other interested individuals, to explore prospect marketing opportunities.

Training and networking activities are anticipated for the future to help support this growing producer group. A 1-hour seminar on ‘Goat Production for Beginners’ is scheduled as part of the South Dakota Local Foods Conference, held Saturday, Nov. 3 in Brookings, SD. Tom Barnes of Pleasant Valley Goat Farm, Custer, SD will be one of the presenters.

If you have questions about the developing goat producers’ network, contact Tom Barnes. Visit the SDSPA website to watch for upcoming events.