by Robert Spencer
Whether you are an existing goat producer or a potential goat producer in Alabama, one of the biggest challenges you will face regarding goat production is finding viable information within the state; this includes health-care and other goat management concerns. The most readily available opportunity is to talk with existing goat producers. This source of information can vary with farm situations and accuracy. Opportunities to attend educational seminars, contact specialists, and locate printed materials exist, but inquiring minds must know how to access these resources, as they are not easily found.
In my situation, I worked in an educational/university environment and part of my job responsibilities included identifying resources of information that were commodity specific. During that time I was able to attend seminars specific to meat goat production; met numerous goat producers, visited their farms, and learned about several monthly publications that offer significant amounts of information for a reasonable annual subscription rate.
It was during that time I realized existing and potential producers had a significant need for information regarding various aspects of meat production, so I began "surfing" the Internet to see what sources of information were available in Cyberspace. I was overwhelmed with the amount of credible information made available on everything from worming to Alpines that can be found in Cyberspace. As time has progressed, so has the amount of information available; it is almost overwhelming.
I realize not everyone has access to the Internet, but they generally know someone who does. This provides an ideal opportunity to spend time with a friend or family member (including grandchildren), to sit down and search the Internet. It can be a valuable learning experience for everyone.
All states surrounding Alabama offer at least one goat specialist who will address relevant issues, return phone calls and e-mails, conduct frequent farm visits, and initiate seminars. Unfortunately, at this time Alabama lacks an agency or institution that readily offers a specialist specific to goat production. This is unfortunate considering that Alabama ranks eighth in states with a significant goat population. However, Cooperative Extension does deserve credit for having a web site that has some goat specific information. It can be found by visiting http://www.aces.edu/pubs/
, then type goat in the search box.
Some of my preferred web sites for goat specific information include, but not limited to:
As you can see from this article, there are sources for information on goat production; it is just a matter of knowing where to find them. For those of you who may not be aware, Tuskegee University has their annual goat workshop planned for later this spring; Auburn University is putting on a goat workshop April 1st, and the Goat and Sheep Producers of Alabama are putting on their second annual workshop May 13th.
I would like to thank several friends of mine in Alabama for encouraging me to continue writing articles on goats: Ray and Judy Cox in Athens and Edie Grover in Wetumpka–they have been a tremendous inspiration.
Robert Spencer is Agribition Center Facilities Manager at Alabama A&M University.