The interest in Goat’s milk in the UK is growing and so consequently over recent years the numbers of nannies (female goats) being milked has increased dramatically. Sadly, nearly all the dairy farms in the UK view Billy Kids as a waste by-product with little or no value or use. With a growing dairy industry there is the inevitable growing issue of the fate of the male Kids. Naturally the female Kids are kept for milking but, as what was historically seen in the cattle dairy industry the male offspring are simply dispatched at birth. In order for the Billy Kid not to continue in being an unappreciated by product they must be seen as an asset in their own right and be given a use. I was once told a very simple saying ‘everything that is born is dead’ and we are not changing the ultimate fate of the Billy Kids but we are giving them a purpose and a use and providing a sustainable source of red meat.
Although Kid Meat may not be a staple on the British menu it is a tasty, healthy and sustainable red meat. It is becoming more popular and those who have tried it are converted, many describing it as being very similar to spring lamb. Goat Meat is the most widely eaten meat in the world.
All the Billies that we raise on the farm arrive from one High Health Status dairy farm. They arrive often at a week old and we keep them on milk for six weeks. We try and keep them as naturally as possible they are not routinely treated for anything and most will only be vaccinated. As soon as the Billies are weaned (off milk) they are moved to a new building that allows them access to pasture. At this stage – unless it is very cold – they are completely free range and come and go as they please. Goats in general are rather mischievous and very inquisitive but Kids are even worse so they simply love playing and getting into trouble. We give them plenty to climb on and play with and try to keep them from getting bored!
The Billies we have tend to be British Saanen, British Alpine or British Toggenburg as pictured below.