RHAM senior develops thriving goat-breeding business
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Hebron - posted Wed., Sep. 21, 2011
Nate Baribault acquired his first Boer goat when he was 8 years old. At that time, he was living in Georgia with his family. “My dad’s friend had Boer goats,” said Baribault. “I purchased my first goat from him.”
Lammy was the result of an embryo transfer. An egg is taken from a superior animal and the resulting embryo implanted in a surrogate. “A superior animal can produce many more offspring that way,” said Baribault. Despite her superior genes, Lammy had an underbite. “She was flawed,” said Baribault. “She ran up to me. She was this tiny little thing, less than one month old. I was 8, so I liked her.”
Now a senior at RHAM High School, Baribault has parlayed Lammy into a successful business. His herd has grown to nearly 60 goats, and he sells his animals regularly. Lammy passed away of milk fever at the age of 7, after delivering quadruplets. “The Boer goats, in particular, are very fertile,” said Baribault. Dot, one of Lammy’s daughters, still lives on the family farm in Hebron. “She’s the one offspring that I still have,” said Baribault.
Boer goats are a stocky breed, with neat, backward-facing horns. Developed in South Africa, every characteristic of the breed, said Baribault, has been specifically chosen. “The large Roman nose cools air down for more comfort during the hot summers,” said Baribault. They have dark pigmentation on the bald spot under their tails to help prevent sunburn and skin cancer. They are especially parasite resistant. “A lot of times, they’ll have four teats instead of two,” said Baribault, a characteristic that comes in handy for a breed known for its fertility.
Boers are a meat breed, designed to be muscular, large and fast-growing. An average adult doe weighs between 165 and 170 pounds. An average buck weighs 275. Baribault selects the top 10 percent of his bucks to sell for breeding. The others are sold off for meat. Does are usually incorporated into the herd or sold for breeding. This year, Baribault’s herd produced a total of 55 kids. Many have already been sold off. Eighteen doe kids still remain at the farm.
Protecting the herd from predators are two dogs named Beatrice and Ellie. The dogs are Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepard mixes, acquired from the same man who bred Lammy. “He specifically bred them for their characteristics,” Baribault said about the dogs. Great Pyrenees tend to be too aggressive toward the goats; Anatolians can show aggression toward humans. The cross, said Baribault, is the perfect combination. “Anything that they think can hurt a goat, they’ll take care of,” said Baribault. The family once found a dead bobcat in one of their goat pens. “They didn’t even have a mark on them,” said Baribault of the dogs.
The goats help to justify their upkeep by contributing to cleanup operations around the farm. “They’re good for a pasture,” said Baribault, “because they prefer to eat just about anything other than grass.” Goats will eat poison ivy, briars and a variety of different undergrowth. “They’ve cleared out this whole edge of the woods,” said Baribault, “and we’ve used them to clean up stone walls and other areas around the property.” The goats are also very friendly. “They'll do anything to get your attention,” said Baribault. “They’ve given me poison ivy on my arms.”
Baribault plans to attend college next year to become a veterinarian. A member of the National Honor Society, Baribault is currently taking several Advanced Placement courses at RHAM. He is considering North Carolina State University, Perdue, University of Georgia and Ohio State. “They have good veterinary programs,” said Baribault. He would like to specialize in large animals and perhaps exotics. “I don’t want to fool with cats and dogs, really,” he said. The ideal situation would be a large animal practice with a zoo nearby. “I’d like to be able to take care of zoo animals, as well,” said Baribault.
In preparation for college, Baribault will begin selling off his herd. “I want to lessen the burden on my parents,” he said. The youngest of six, Baribault said, “My parents have had a kid in college since 1999.” Keeping three or four animals (including Dot, the daughter of Lammy) will mean less upkeep for his parents. It will also mean he’ll have some cash to contribute to his college expenses.
Baribault designed and set up his own website for his business. For more information about his herd, go to www.briarridgeboers.com. You can contact Baribault through the site.