Goats, like all other mammals, must be impregnated in order to lactate. That means that goat dairies produce not only milk but also baby goats. In a normal commercial operation, female kids are raised to replace their mothers in the milking herd, male kids are typically sold cheaply at auction for meat or otherwise disposed of, and mothers are sent to slaughter once their milk production declines. Slaughter is an essential element of the dairy model.
Of course, slaughter was not in the plans of the sanctuary/dairy operators, who wanted to shelter all of their goats for their entire natural lives. To keep the dairy business going, however, they still needed to breed the goats. The result was a very large herd indeed — too large for the operators to provide adequate individualized care to each goat. Recognizing this, they decided to phase out their dairy business and devote their operation entirely to sheltering.
What distinguishes a sanctuary from a farm, even a small farm run with the best intentions, is that a sanctuary’s operating principal is serving its animal residents — their well-being is the unassailable priority. When animals’ bodies are used as a source of profit, their needs will inevitably come into conflict with the needs of the business. Animals at sanctuary are never placed in that precarious position. Each animal receives the best possible care and is given the best possible life.
Both Farm Sanctuary and the operators of this sanctuary in transition wish that best life for every one of their goats, so we’re working to find wonderful adoptive homes for many of them. With a smaller herd, the sanctuary will be able to provide high-quality care and accommodations for each remaining resident in the long term.
Paul Harvey is still feeling out sanctuary life. There’s a lot to learn. And as he is discovering, there’s so much happiness ahead. Along with his goat buddies, our caring staff is here to guide him every step of the way.