By Mary Nichols

Happy GoatsSouth Bruce Tourism Group had an extremely interesting tour of Henry and Anja VanderVlies dairy goat operation on Tuesday June 7, 2016.

Henry and Anja welcomed the group to their dairy goat operation where we were able to see the milking rotary parlour in operation. It has the ability to milk 60 goats at one time. They milk 1200 goats with milking occurring twice a day, and each milking takes approximately 4 hours. They average just over 3000 litres a day of production from their 1200 goats. The goats are separated into groups and a moving squeeze fence pushes each group towards the parlour. It was a massive wave of multi coloured goats being gently guided to the milking parlour where they entered each individual stall . While being milked they received some pellets , all the time that the carousel was turning. When they finished milking and came around to the exit the head gate lifted up, releasing each goat, one at a time , and they exited off the carousel and the next batch came it.

Good explanations!Henry explained that the kids are taken from the mother right after birth, and washed by hand, tube fed the first time with colostrum milk from newly kidded mothers . Feeding of the new born kids is Anja’s job, and can take all day if there are a lot of kids being born that day . They use the old milking parlour to milk the newly kidded moms and keep their milk for feeding the newborn kids. The baby kids are kept in a heated floor pen until they are put into the “kids” barn with a group of similar aged kids. Kidding occurs three times a year, and they can have between 20 to up to 70 kids arrive a day. Almost all of the kids arrive during the daylight hours. Once they are moved to the “kids” barn they are offered milk replacer through nipple feeders 24 hours a day, until they are weaned at approximately 8 weeks of age.

Milk is picked up by a tanker truck three times a week, and goes to Teeswater to be distributed from there.

It was an awesome tour of a goat dairy operation with lots of questions asked. You could certainly tell this family takes great pride in their dairy goat operation. Just about the cleanest barn you would ever see! , and lots of healthy, happy looking goats.

After the tour the tourism group met at the Municipal office for a business meeting. Plans were finalized for the tractor tour on Father’s Day , June 18th. Our tractor tour appreciation night is scheduled for Tuesday, July 12th, 2016 at Formosa Lions Park at 7:30 pm .