Q&A with Shaun and Mallory Kaiser, Owners of the The Goat Patch

FROM LEFT: Four-year-old Kaz, six-month-old Zak and Mallory Kaiser

How long have you been raising goats in Saddle Hills County?
We initially started raising goats in 2014, in Hines Creek, where we purchased a small cross trip (trip is the goat meaning for herd) of miniature cross dairy goats from our neighbour. In 2015, we got serious and purchased our first 12 Kiko goats. We moved to the Saddle Hills County in 2017 to grain farm with my (Mallory) family and continue our Kiko goat breeding program.

How did you get interested in goats?
I (Mallory) was driving home from work listening to CBC Radio, when Alberta Goat President Association Laurie Fries was discussing the benefits of goats. My interest peaked, and Shaun and I started attending conferences. The evidence that convinced us that goats were the way to go was Canada does not have enough goat meat to supply the demand. Currently, Canada imports most of its goat meat from New Zealand. Goat meat is the main red meat consumption of 60% of the world’s population, and new Canadians have increased that demand. We were willing to fill that demand.

It says on your website that you practice “closed herd”. What does this mean to those of us who are not familiar with that term?
A closed herd program does not allow animals or people to freely come and go into the corrals or barn. We do this to protect our herd from getting disease that other herds could carry. When we purchase new stock, the animals must be healthy, go into quarantine for 60 days upon arrival at our farm and get tested for Johnes and Caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE). When people come to visit our barnyard, we will ask that they stay out of the corrals or put on booties. This stops the spread of disease from getting into our yard or something our farm may have from getting into their yard.

You specialize in Kikos. What is the difference between a Kiko and a “regular” goat?
There are around 300 distinct breeds of goats in the world. The New Zealand Kiko goat was a project in the 1980’s. Once New Zealand was discovered, people from all over the world came and brought goats with them. This eventually led to thousands of feral goats in New Zealand. In the 1980’s, a couple from New Zealand captured the feral goats and started to cull the ones that did not have the makings of a great goat. They kept the ones that were distinctive for their maternal instinct, parasite resistance, hoof care, meat gain, milking ability, survivability – everything you would want in a breed that does not require a lot of work. For us that was an attractive attribute.

Do you also have “regular goats”?
Most people view Boer goats as the main breed for meat. All goats could be used for meat. Since Kikos are new to the list of recognized breeds, people are starting to see the huge benefits of raising Kiko goats for meat.

Where did you get your first Kiko from?
Glorylane Farm, Tawatinaw, AB

How many Kiko producers are there in Canada?
There are some that are just commercial, but I would have to guess about 20 breeders.

With only a certain number of Kiko producers in Canada, I am assuming you cannot breed the same Kikos over and over again, so how do you go about breeding?
Finding new bloodlines in Canada is challenging. It is difficult to bring goats into Canada because of government restrictions. However, there are a few producers in the United States that can ship across the border. We bought two billy goats from a producer in Oregon last fall. It is an expensive and lengthy process, which has paid off. We have been getting calls from producers across Canada looking for new genetics.

How many Kiko kids do you have each year?
Our kidding rate is 2.4 kids per doe, on average. This spring we had 120 kids born from 55 does.

Do you breed Bokis as well?
A Boki is a papered Boer goat crossed with a Purebred or New Zealand Kiko. We do have some stock, but our focus is Purebred.

Do these different breeds require different care than the goats most producers have in Canada?
The Kikos were developed to be a low maintenance breed. They are proven to handle the cold winters of Canada. Goats are not native to Canada. Many of the breeds have a harder time with our climate and require more attention.

Is the interest in Kikos and Bokis in Canada growing?
Some meat producers are getting tired of the work of maintaining hooves and parasites in their meat herds. The Kiko breed is starting to be competitive with the Boer.

Are you able to use Kikos for 4-H? Would they have to be judged differently?
In Eastern Canada and throughout the USA, Kikos are starting to appear in more goat show competitions. Since Kikos are a meat goat, they can go into 4-H for showing.

What does kidding season look like for you?
Our kidding season does enjoy a winter of good grain, hay and supplement management. We spend March getting the barn and corrals prepared. We breed the goats to kid in the middle of April, but often will see does kidding a week prior. Those often are the ones who are having quadruplets; this year, live quintuplets! We do our checks every 2-3 hours. The does kid outside, and we bring them into our barn for surveillance for about 24 hours. We record the kids’ weight, sex, and tag numbers, make sure they are nursing and send them back outside into another group pen.

You have sires listed on your website? Do you sell them or “rent them out”?
Due to our biosecurity/closed herd policy, we do not rent out our sires. We list them so people can refer to who the sire is when looking at buying breeding stock from us.

What is the difference between a “100% New Zealand Kiko” and a “purebred Kiko”?
New Zealand Kiko means that the animal bloodlines can be traced to the original group from New Zealand, making the animal 100% New Zealand. Purebred means the animal has, at least, one outside influence that was not a New Zealand Kiko. The animal is then registered at 94%> Purebred Kiko. Even if you have a New Zealand buck and a Purebred doe, the offspring will only be able to register as 94% Purebred.

Where do you see your business in five years?
I see our business being a Western Canada leader in the Kiko meat breed and working closely with USA Kiko leaders to help expand the Kiko breed and influence in Canada.

When you are not working with goats, what do you enjoy as a family?
Pre-COVID-19, we would try to make a trip into town to go swimming or the Jump Park, spending time with our family, or at the hockey rink for hockey and public skating. Currently we enjoy spending time with our kids, Kaz and Zak. Kaz is four and has enthusiasm for all things farming and Ghostbusters. We spend a lot of time in the sandbox and chasing ghosts in our yard. Zak is currently six months old; he is just along for the ride for now.

At A Glance