I Have a Great Team in My Corner!
Eric Speltz, Milking Dairy Goat Business – Altura, MN
All American Co-op has a strong partnership with Shawn Quinn and RCS, Inc. Because of that partnership we get to share a story about a unique, growing milking goat herd in SE Minnesota. In 2007 Eric Speltz decided to modify the Dairy Cow parlor on his family farm over to a milking goat double 12 parlor. Since 2007 Eric has increased his herd and this year he will have 700 milking goats. With one person in the parlor, Eric can milk 120 goats per hour. Milking happens twice a day at 4:30 AM & PM. Currently milk production for the herd is averaging 6 lb/hd/day on a 305 day lactation with a 60 day dry period. Eric gets a SCC premium from the creamery, Saputo Cheese at Lancaster, Wisconsin; for having a low SCC. Receiving this SCC premium is not an easy task since Goats Milk is typically a high somatic cell count product. Eric is pleased with his production and attributes some of that success to the partnership he has with Shawn Quinn at RCS, Inc and Kate Brown at All American Co-op. Nutritionist Shawn Quinn has carved out a solid feeding plan for the milking and young stock herds. The milking herd gets a 16% mini pellet manufactured by All American Co-op and free choice baleage. The kid program begins with a Quality Kid Colostrum Replacer, then a Kid Goat Milk Replacer formulated to meet the needs of new goat kids. Kid goats are introduced to a Kid Goat Grower pellet and eventually, at about 6-8 weeks of age they are weaned and transitioned to a yearling ration that will prepare them for breeding.
Goats are seasonal (photo-sensitive) breeders. Ideal breeding season would be during the Fall Equinox period from Late September to Mid-December. Gestation period for goats is 150 days. Breeds that Eric has in his herd include Saanen, Alpine, and Lamancha. All breeding is done naturally, placing quality Buck’s with the herd during the optimum breeding season. Breeding is timed so that kidding begins in February and completed by June. This allows for a year round milking season with the lowest number of head in production during the early winter months of December and January. Since most goats birth multiple kids at a time (2-3 is typical) the kidding season can get quite hectic for Eric and his staff. Eric keeps all doelings to be replacements for the growth and expansion of his herd. Buckling’s are sold to a buyer in Wisconsin.
Eric employs 3 full-time people that are instrumental to the success of the milking and kid herd. When we are in full kidding season it is priceless for me to know that my help and my son are all on the same page caring for the babies we are feeding. We can have as many as 50 new kids a day that need a minimum of two feedings of a Quality Kid Colostrum Replacer. Kids need to be dried off, warmed, fed, and monitored for any signs of scours. After 2-3 days, kids are penned into groups of four and moved to kid barns. These kid barns are refurbished trailer homes that have been gutted and made into pens with radiant heat and fresh air returns. Eric has found that these retired mobile homes are a very cost effective use of old trailer homes. They are the perfect dimensions for kid pens, they are already insulated and with a few modifications, they become easy to clean and care for environments for as many as 144 kids to a building. After 4 weeks, kids are then moved to a hoop barn where they are transitioned to bigger groups and by the time they are 10-12 months old they will be bred to become part of the milking herd the following year.
Eric has been doing business with All American Co-op since 2010 and is happy to say that it has been a “great experience!” He adds, “The service that I get from everyone at All American Co-op is friendly and courteous. The central feed orders team at Stewartville is so easy to work with.” Goats prefer a smaller pellet called a ‘mini pellet’. Eric’s 16% ration mini pellet is manufactured right at the Stewartville feedmill. There are certain times that these mini pellets are made in order to fit into the production schedule at the Stewartville Feedmill. “The central feed order staff sends me a text message or postcard reminder about when orders are due.” Eric says. “The mini pellet reminders and manufacturing schedule helps me place my orders so that I always have the minis in the bin.” Eric appreciates the communication he receives thru the entire feed order process. “The delivery drivers are friendly and understanding of my time. I appreciate that they take time to ask questions to be sure that feed is unloaded where I need it to be. If there is ever a question or concern I know that I will get a call to let me know ahead of time. The up-front approach that the entire Feed Team at All American Co-op brings to my farm is a great peace of mind for me.” Eric speaks of the added value he sees by having a great team supporting him and his business. “I appreciate the collaboration between the production and central feed orders staff, along with my nutritionist Shawn Quinn at RCS, Inc. Kate is the hub to make sure that my kid care products are on hand and ready for delivery when I place my order. She has taken the initiative to learn about Milking Goat Care and Nutrition and has been a great resource for me to address unique challenges that I have on my farm.” Eric ends the conversation by saying that “I feel that I have a great support team in my corner including Kate Brown, All American Co-op, Shawn Quinn, RCS, Inc, Dr. Lorch at Lewiston Vet, as well as my employees, and my family. I am excited to see where the future takes us with our milking goat business!”