Questions about our Farm and Creamery

Do you separate the goat kids from their mothers after birth?

Best practices for raising goat kids at Redwood Hill Farm

A LaMancha & Nubian dairy goat kid at Redwood Hill Farm

LaMancha & Nubian dairy goat kids at Redwood Hill Farm

During the kidding season in the spring, our farm staff checks on the pregnant goats all the time. We have a special night shift from 2-3 am in the morning to make sure someone can assist a goat giving birth even in the middle of the night.

Dairy goats typically give birth to 2-3 kids and begin giving milk. Many of these kids remain on our farm to be raised as the next generation. When the kids are born, they are immediately whisked away from their mother. This is very important, because there is a disease goats can contract called Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis Virus (CAEV). This virus, which is specific to goats and does not affect any other species, is passed through fluids such as milk, saliva and blood.

Symptoms include swelling of the knees, arthritis, seizures, and scar tissue in the udder. CAEV is a serious infection that severely limits a goat’s life span, because it eventually destroys the immune system. It also reduces milk production by about half.

Our program for a CAEV-free herd

Nubian dairy goat kid at Redwood Hill Farm

A Nubian dairy goat kid

When CAEV was discovered 25 years ago, it was estimated that 80% of goats worldwide were infected. We work very hard to keep our herd free of CAEV with our eradication program, which includes the separation of kids right after birth, feeding with only heat-treated colostrum and milk, annual CAEV testing and best practices in vaccinations.  We work closely with the other goat dairy farmers that supply milk to our creamery to help them with their CAEV eradication programs.

After birth the kids are placed in a special barn with the other kids and are fed their mothers’ colostrum, which has been heated up to make it safe for them. Each feeding is measured to make sure they eat enough. After a few days they are fed pasteurized goat milk and yogurt – we never use any kind of milk replacer. They stay in the barn with the other kids where they have plenty of space to play and roam. As they grow, they are eventually re-united with the rest of the herd.

Do you use artificial insemination with our goats?
Champion line-up at the Sonoma County Fair

Redwood Hill Farm owner Jennifer Bice (on right) showing her champion dairy goat “Rima”

Dairy goats, unlike dairy cows, do not need to be bred every year. After a goat has a kid, the doe can be milked for 2-3 years without having another one. We do this with approximately 30% of the milking herd.

At Redwood Hill Farm we breed the vast majority of our goats naturally. We have an award-winning herd of Alpine, LaMancha, Nubian and Saanen goats and are known internationally for the excellence in our breeding genetics program.

A small percentage of our goats (less than 5%) are bred artificially to match them with top bucks across the country. We do this to bring in new, outstanding genetics and to continue improving our herd.

What happens to the buck kids?

Improving dairy goat herds across the United States and beyond

BuckyBoyJarvis_pstcrdAt Redwood Hill Farm we have an award-winning herd of Alpine, LaMancha, Nubian and Saanen dairy goats and are known internationally for the excellence in our breeding genetics program. Therefore, a high percentage of our buck kids (approximately 50-60%) are sold for breeding all over the United States as well as to Canada, Taiwan, Venezuela and many other countries.

Dairy goats typically give birth to 2-3 kids. All of the doe kids and some of the buck kids  remain on our farm to be raised as the next generation. We also give a number of our buck kids to the other goat dairy farms who supply milk to our creamery to improve their herds. This not only helps them improve the health and quality of their herd, but also the quality of the milk as improved genetics can increase the amount of butterfat and other components in the milk.

Other buck kids are sold to families as pets or to organizations that train them to be horse companions or to transport supplies for backpackers. Only a very few are sold to local farmers who raise them for meat.  There is no veal-type meat production in goat and the animals are not confined to small areas.

What is Certified Humane®?

Driving consumer demand for kinder and more responsible
farm animal practices

Certified Humane® is a food product label awarded by an organization called Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC), an independent, third-party certification organization based in Virginia. Founded in 1998, Humane Farm Animal Care set out to improve the lives of millions of farm animals enduring inhumane treatment on factory farms across the country.

The program is designed to empower consumers to buy food products with the confidence that they came from a farm with high standards for animal welfare.  By certifying products with the Certified Humane® logo, consumers are given a choice. The goal is to improve the lives of farm animals in food production by driving consumer demand for kinder and more responsible farm animal practices.

The animal welfare standards for Certified Humane® were created by a Scientific Committee comprised of 36 scientists and veterinarians from all over the world.  For goats, requirements include:

  • Animals must receive a nutritious diet free of antibiotics or hormones. They must be raised with shelter, resting areas and space that are sufficient to support their natural behavior.
    Goats, unlike sheep or cattle, do not tolerate rain or wind. Therefore, adequate shelter must be provided at all times to protect them from inclement weather.
  • Being social and gregarious animals, goats must be housed within sight or sound of goats or other animals.
  • Milking, shearing or and clipping procedures must meet HFAC standard.

If you are interested in reading the complete standard for dairy goats, click here.

When we first learned about this program, we realized that the farm practices we had been using for decades were already in compliance with the Certified Humane® standard. To give our consumers the additional confidence of a third-party certification, we became the first goat dairy in the United States to become Certified Humane® in 2005.

What do your goats eat? Is the feed non-GMO?

At Redwood Hill Farm we believe in a natural approach to animal husbandry and our dairy goats have access to pasture and are Certified Humane raised and handled. The goats have access to free space outside at all times, where they can play and engage in their natural behaviors.  During days of heavy rain in the winter, they prefer to remain in their open barn, as goats don’t tolerate wind or wetness very well.

By nature, goats are browsers (like deer) and not grazers like cows and sheep. Our dairy goats are fed a balanced diet, which is full of nutrients, and free of antibiotics and hormones. Their diet consists of about 70% fibers, which includes brush, leaves, almond hulls and hay, such as oat or alfalfa hay. The other 30% of their diet consists of a variety of grains, which may include barley, cottonseed, corn, and soy depending on the mix.

At this time, we cannot guarantee that the goat feed is always free of GMOs. We are actively working towards becoming organic and non-GMO in the future for the benefit of all.

To learn more about our farm, click the link to view our new video.

Can we visit your farm or creamery?

We are a working farm and creamery and cannot offer tours at all times. We do offer tours of the farm in the spring at our annual Farm Tours, usually in May and/or June. This years Farm Tour dates have been set and we hope you join us! Click here for the details and check back as we get closer to the date for any updates. Until then, click here and enjoy this “virtual tour” of our farm with Farm Manager, Scott Bice.

To learn about different activities which happen year-round in Sonoma County visit FarmTrails.org. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and sign up for our newsletter which comes out six times per year for our spring tour dates, specials, and great goat photos and recipes!