Pat Blank believes “one goat is a lonely goat.” And so, for more than 30 years, she and her husband Terry have always kept a lot more than that on their ranch in Shell Rock, Iowa. The Blanks have 17 Nigerian Dwarf goats – the smallest of all dairy goats – and are registered breeders with the American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA).
“Our goats are so calm, you can handle them easily,” Blank says of the multi-colored mini goats. “Even toddlers can hold them.”
As a breeder who frets over her “babies” like any good mother, Blank says nutrition and appearance are extremely important to her. She has trusted Home Fresh’s line of goat feed for years, and credits the ingredients – which she describes as “the perfect balance of nutrition, vitamins and minerals” – for her herd’s excellent body conditions, shiny coats and clean bills of health. Typically, each of her 14 does will have two or three kids a year; last year there were 31 born on Black Eagle Ranch.
“There’s no way their bodies could support that kind of work if they weren’t extremely healthy,” Blank says. “It’s a testament of the nutrition they get.”
Most of Blank’s customers are 4-H members who raise and show the Nigerian Dwarf goats at fairs. She educates every customer on the importance of proper nutrition and “carefully vets” each one to ensure the goats will be well-cared for (and have other companions) at their new homes. Each year, she donates one of her registered goats to the Iowa Dairy Goat Association’s Share-A-Kid program. A committee chooses the winners from a few dozen entries, and breeders – including Blank, a longtime award-winning Iowa journalist – select a winner based on a few key points: proof that the applicant has other goats; a description of where the goat will live and why they would make a good owner.
Demand for Blank’s goats – many of which have blue eyes and no horns – typically outpace supply.
“These animals are really special to me,” Blank says. “They bring a lot of joy to us.”
Blank usually begins feeding lamb starter to her kids, and gradually introduces them to Home Fresh 16 Goat Grow and Finish. The entire herd also gets Kent’s Goat Mineral, which Blank likes for its granular texture because it isn’t hard on her goats’ teeth.
“Basically, when you get a 50-pound bag of this feed, you get a 50-pound bag with not a lot of junk at the bottom,” Blank says. “I can recommend the full line to my customers with confidence. People who visit our farm always ask about our goats and their beautiful coats, and I tell them it comes from the Kent products I use.”