The farm started operating as a dairy farm in 2005, having previously produced only animal feed. The family decided to settle down, buy land and a herd of goats. Their initial herd was 340 goats and they have tried to maintain this number. Currently, they have 260 goats and 80 kids, which will be included in the main herd in the autumn. The goat house and the dairy production facility sit on approximately 0.5 ha of land and another 30 ha of arable fields are rented nearby.
Ecological dairy farming is something that comes from inside you – as a farmer, I want to produce food that is good for health and good for the environment because I see that people like it and buy it. I could never think why I would change.
The farm is run primarily by Maria and her husband. They also have a shepherd and 2 more people helping on the farm in general and with the dairy. Their sons also help them to harvest the feed.
Description of the agro-ecological practice
Careful selection of animal livestock types; free grazing almost the entire year round; own production of animal feed, using only organic fertilizer.
Technical information on the agro-ecological practice
- Choosing the right type of animal for the dairy farm is one of the key factors for this agro-ecological practice; goats graze freely for almost the whole year – from Feb/March until November, depending on the weather; there is plenty of food in the wild that is suitable for them – they eat not only grass (like other grazing animals, such as cows and sheep) but also bushes of different kinds, moss, berries, acorns, seeds and other plant species; it is only when the snow is very deep – more than 50 cm or so – that they can’t be left out; the free-range grazing that takes place almost throughout the year together with their diverse diet makes the goats very resistant to dairy animal diseases;
- Goats are bred naturally and the farmers ensure that the kids are born in January and February – according to Maria, this makes them much healthier and more resilient to different kinds of disease;
- All the feed used when the animals are on the farm during the cold months is produced on the farm; the feed includes hay, alfalfa, wheat, corn and barley; they rotate crops every year and keep their own seeds, thus eliminating the costs of annual seed buying; the crop fields are fertilized with organic manure produced by the goats;
- Different kinds of feed (coarse feed and cereal) are mixed to make sops to give the goats the protein they need in the winter; they can find everything else they need themselves in the wild; the farmers provide them with a continuous supply of fresh water and salt in the barn.
Economical information on this practice
- The price of production of their own feed is approximately €0.15 per 1 kg – this includes seeds, seeding, fertilization and harvesting; this is also the standard price of feed on the market; Maria prefers to cultivate her own feed as this allows her to ensure that they give only good quality feed to the animals without any additives;
In the farmer’s opinion, everything begins with the careful selection of the kinds of animals to be raised on the farm. After extensive research, Maria and Georgi decided to raise goats – the location of their farm suits this kind of animal well; what’s more, goats, as farm animals, are very suited to free-range grazing. Maria considers that free-range grazing for goats is as economically viable as conventional breeding. However, the most important aspect of ecological dairy production is that the animals are happier, resulting in high quality products.