Like most Alberta ranchers we started out in the cattle industry. We ran a herd of pure-bred Horned Herefords with our family’s farm. After having 4 kids in 4.5 years we realized that we wanted for them to be more engaged in farming alongside us. We looked at our options and realized we would need significantly more cattle, land, and capital to make mixed farming viable for a family our size; however, being a young family with 4 kids this wasn't an option.
We did hours of research and multiple farm tours and decided to try our hand at raising goats. Our land was perfectly suited for goats rather than cattle due to its thick brush and rugged terrain. In 2009 we started out with 9 goats to see if we liked them and to test our fencing ability. We soon came to realize that we enjoyed raising goats and that they are moderately easy to care for, making them the perfect fit for our family. Through the years and lots of trials and error, we expanded on our handling systems and shelters and have grown to approximately 350 head of Boer goats.
Our biggest obstacles have been veterinarian support, nutrition, and fencing. Even though goat operations have been around Central Alberta for years, finding a small ruminant vet close to home proved difficult. To produce the healthiest stock we can and to provide the best value to our clients we have found the need to educate ourselves on every aspect of goat husbandry we could learn about.
Many hours have been spent online and pouring through the same textbooks studied out of the University of Saskatchewan's Western College of Veterinary Medicine. We have developed a strong knowledge base to best support our herd's health with a focus on handling and nutrition.
Patience and hard work have paid off as and we have built a great working relationship through the years with a local veterinarian clinic to the benefit of our herd. We have our veterinarian onsite throughout the year to assist us in supporting the health and well being of our animals. The welfare of our stock is of utmost importance on Big Timber Ranch. Finding and building a relationship with a nutritionist has been such an asset to our farm. By working with a nutritionist we modify our feed program to compensate for the quality of feed available due to poor harvests, assuring that we always provide our clients with the best stock possible.
One of the more interesting aspects of running 350 head of goats over some very interesting landscape is the fencing issues that arise. Over the years we have experimented with different fencing manufacturers. We have found one that stands out, Red Brand. We have been so impressed with Red Brand Fencing that we became a Red Brand dealer. Anyone that has fenced for goats knows the challenges associated with them. Red Brand has surpassed all the other wire we have tried on Big Timber Ranch. For more information on Red Brand Fence click here