Goats paying their way in the hills of Donegal
Milking goats is currently returning 75c/l for Alyson McKnight
Alyson McKnight is a busy woman what with over 300 goats to milk and an average of 50 new kids coming onto her goat farm in Co Donegal every September.
Between the milkers, breeders, new stock and the very new kids, there's about 700 goats housed on the farm located at Glenmaquin near Convoy and they take some looking after.
"When anyone visits the farm they look at the goats and immediately exclaim -"Holy s***," says Alyson.
The 250ac McKnight farm is mixed in every sense of the word. Alyson's parents, Alfie and Mabel along with her brother John, takes care of the family's 80 plus Holstein and British Friesian dairy herd and 100 ewes, which leaves 30-year-old Alyson to look after the goats.
After a lot of thinking, the McKnights decided to take a gamble on goats in 2011 when they bought in goats from local farmers who were either retiring or leaving the business.
The enterprise started with 50 goats and quickly expanded to its current size.
An investment of €60,000 was required to establish the herd and a further €100,000 was needed to house the goat herd and build a 32-cubicle parlour for the bearded milkers.
It's an investment that is paying its way with the parlour producing around 2,000 litres of milk weekly which is purchased by the nearby Natural Dairies company which has a Tesco contract for goat's cheese.