Twenty-five LaMancha and Nigerian Dwarf doe goats, 22 bottle-fed kids, four adult bucks, three Great Pyrenees guardian dogs, an Australian Shepherd and a donkey named Nellie roam Simple Pleasures Farm on Nubbin Hill near Leslie, Ark., owned by Phil and Dawn Hurd. 
“I’m the muscle man around here,” Phil said. “I built the milking barn and put up the other out buildings on the place. And I’m still cleaning up from the ice storm damage we had last year. Every time a strong wind blows, more dead and broken limbs come down.”
Phil chose the LaMancha breed, and Dawn’s choice was Nigerian Dwarf. They agree both breeds are noted for quiet and gentle temperaments. All of their goats are registered. Because goats are browsers, preferring new growth of shrubs and the seed heads of grasses to the lower quality growth in a pasture, Dawn and Phil’s hill country farm provides their goats with a wide range of forage. The goats are fed hay when green fodder is unavailable. An adult LaMancha weighs around 185 pounds and gives one to two gallons of milk per day. A Nigerian Dwarf weighs 75-80 pounds and gives about a gallon of milk each day.
“Goat’s milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk, because the proteins are smaller,” Dawn said. “It’s an alternative for people who are allergic to or intolerant of cow’s milk and cow’s milk products. It’s also a good source for baby formula. Nigerian Dwarf’s milk has more butterfat than most other dairy goats. Besides selling the milk, I make cheese and butter. I also make soap from goat’s milk, and sell it through several craft and novelty shops.”
Dawn and Phil are members of the American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA) and the Arkansas Goat Producers Association. Phil is the current Vice-President of the Arkansas Goat Producers Association.
Dawn talked about moving from California 5 years ago.
“We have two boys, Shane and Matthew, and we started our first goat dairy in 1997 while we were still in California. The boys were a big help then, and when we moved to Nubbin Hill, Matthew came and stayed 6 months with us and helped us put up the fences. The boys are still in California and both have jobs and go to college.” 
Dawn likes the gentle nature of Nigerian Dwarfs, and said they’re easy to train, making them good show animals. In 2009 they won 31 awards.
“In 2007-2008 I was the premier breeder for the state of Arkansas for Nigerian Dwarfs,” she said. “In 2008-2009, for the State Fair, we were the premier breeders for LaManchas in Arkansas. We do a lot of work with 4-H students, selling them show animals. About 15 of our babies have already gone to their new homes.”
Preferring the leaner cuts of meat that goats provide, they butcher some of their animals and freeze the meat for their own use. Wethers are sold to customers that request meat goats. Their farm is fenced, and the adult goats roam the property at freewill during the day under the guardianship of the Great Pyrenees dogs.
“The goats go eat what they want to eat,” she said. “You may not always see the dogs, but they’re on alert and make sure predators do not come near the goats. We couldn’t run this place as efficiently as we do without the dogs.”
She explained that when she first started with the Nigerian Dwarfs, there were only two registries for them and they were considered more a pretty pet than they were a dairy goat.
“A lot of breeders worked hard over the years to prove they are dairy goats,” she said. “In 2005 the Nigerian Dwarfs were accepted into ADGA.”


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