Erica Quinlan, Field Editor
Saturday, May 02, 2015 4:00 PM
Erica Hopkins stands surrounded by her herd of Nigerian Dwarf goats. After a long day at work, Hopkins enjoys lying in the grass and spending time with her animals.
LOGANSPORT, Ind. – Erica Hopkins’ goat farm sits on six acres of rolling hills, pastures and lakes in northern Indiana.Goats and turkeys graze on the fields in Hopkins' backyard. From her bedroom window, she has a perfect view of Twin Willows Farm.
Hopkins started the farm with husband, Brandon, and parents, Larry and Kathleen McCarter, in May of 2011. Since then, the goat herd has grown significantly, from three to more than 30 Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats.
How long have you raised goats?
We bought our first goats in May 2011, so we are celebrating our four-year anniversary.
What’s the demand like for goats?
The demand is very good if you can consistently produce high quality animals that excel in conformation with the ability to produce a lot of good quality, high butterfat milk. We sell many does and wethers to 4-H kids for projects.
Our animals have started or helped to start many other herds, and we have seen a very high demand for pet wethers. We castrate 99 percent of bucks born, and we sell out of them very quickly. We usually have a waitlist for wethers, so many times they are spoken for as soon as they are born.
What do you like about raising goats?
They are so loving and so very smart. They can learn their names and you can teach them to respond to what you want them to do. You really can build relationships with them and teach them to trust you.
Has it been a challenge to learn how to raise goats?
I really enjoy the challenge of striving to consistently produce better animals with each generation. It’s a lot harder than it looks. Raising them well is a lot harder than it looks, too.
It’s been a huge learning experience for all of us. It is mostly joyous, but there is a lot of heartbreak, too. Every day I learn something new that I didn’t know yesterday, and every incident is a learning experience.
Do you show your goats?
When we first started with Nigerians, we went to many (American Dairy Goat Association) shows, and our animals won many championships in the ring. We still love to show our goats, but we have recently cut way back on the number of shows we attend.
Last year, we entered our herd on the 305-day Standard DHI milk test, and six out of the eight does that were tested earned their milk stars, including three homegrown first fresheners. Since then, we have been focusing more on the production aspect of farming.
What do you want for the future of your farm?
We have an ADGA Linear Appraisal scheduled this June so that we can better learn the strengths and weaknesses of each animal and help us plan the future direction for our herd.
Erica Quinlan can be reached at 317-726-5391, ext. 4, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at: @AgNews_Quinlan.