Patti Black’s enthusiasm over her LaMancha and Sable dairy goats that she raises with her 15-year-old son, Travis, is contagious. “LaManchas are the only breed of goat that is native to America,” she explained. “They are quiet, gentle, docile, very even-tempered animals, which makes them good for someone like me, who has close neighbors.” 
Patti and Travis have 15 goats on their land beside their home in Crocker, Mo.
“When we first started going to shows, we’d put them in a dog crate in the back of the van.”
Patti’s husband, Jeff, readily admitted the goats are his wife and son’s, and he is the logistical support in this operation. “Like driving,” he added with a smile.
Travis, an officer in his local FFA chapter, was quieter about his work with the goats but is highly involved, as the string of ribbons and the nearby shelf full of trophies from various shows, proved. “We do about six shows a year,” Patti continued, “as well as the Missouri State Fair and the Ozark Empire Fair. We’ve been doing this since Travis was four, so he has become well-known and I think, well-respected in the dairy goat shows in this area.”
Patti described their La Mancha goats as having gopher ears, tiny flat ears that give the goat’s head a unique look among the eight breeds of goats recognized by the American Dairy Goat Association. “We do our best to attend every birth of our goats. We even have goat TV here; we keep a video camera going on them in the birthing season. We’re getting ready for that time of year again and I can’t wait.”
Patti and Travis expect 12 of their goats to give birth this spring and they will be milking 10 of those. “We milk twice a day and then we bottle feed the babies,” she explained. “That makes all of our goats much more people friendly, and that way, we can sell a kid at 30 days old, and hand the new owner their baby and a bottle. This makes the does easier to handle as well, because milking time is also feeding time for them.” 
“We vaccinate and dis-bud the babies (of their horns) at 3-5 days of age. The American Dairy Goat Association does not allow dairy goats to be shown with horns. It is simply too dangerous. Their horns grow differently than those of the meat goat breeds. A child at a show could be seriously hurt by those horns, and the goats themselves have gotten themselves hung up in a fence and literally, hanged themselves, so it is much better for everyone, to do it this way, when they’re young.”
This past year, Patti and Travis have also added Sable goats to their herd. “These are our first goats with ears,” Patti laughed, “so that’s been something new.”  To further protect her goats, Patti has two Great Pyrenees dogs. “They keep the stray dogs away,” she added, “because those strays are a real threat to your goats in a more populated area like this.”
Patti, who is the Food Service Director for Crocker Schools, continued, “A lot of people think goats will eat anything, but that is not true. They are really more like a 2-year-old child, everything goes into their mouth first, but lots of things they spit right back out. And there is no five second rule with goats, once it hits the ground, they’re done with it, so you really have to watch with your feed, or you can end up with a lot of waste. We feed alfalfa hay and a high-quality dairy goat mix.”
Patti concluded, “Goats are smart and fun to watch. They’re cute but I have to remind folks when they come to buy, they are still livestock. My dad used to say, for goats you need a fence that is horse high, hog tight and bull strong, and that describes it well.”


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