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Producer Spotlight: Atlantic Goats

Producer Name: Isaac Adejuwon

Farm Name: Atlantic Goats

Location: St. John’s Newfoundland, Canada

Goat Breed: Traditional Boer Goats

Production Type: Breeding stock

Describe your operation:

 Our adventure started in August 2015 when we contacted Greta Prins from Treeline Boers to inform her of our plans to buy some Boer goats. In June 2016, she welcomed our family to her farm to show us her herd and provided information and guidance on how to get started. We procrastinated for 4 years until 2020 when COVID-19 brought the world to a full stop. Due to the isolation and boredom caused by the pandemic, the idea of starting a Boer goat farm came back to us so we contacted Greta again in June of 2021 and we were ready to get started. She sold one of her best bucks, Treeline Columbo to us and together with eleven goats that we bought from other breeders, we shipped a total of twelve goats to Newfoundland and that was how Atlantic Goats was born.

 We are in our third year of operations and don’t own a farm yet. As part of an incubator program, we lease a 2.5-acre land from O’Brien Farm. They helped us with most of the infrastructure we needed to get started and we are so grateful for all the support we have received.

Biosecurity and high animal health status are a part of our core values. We test for Johne’s and CAE annually and we vaccinate for CL. In 2023, we joined the Voluntary Scrapie Program to help improve our herd health status. Our goal is to develop superior healthy Boer goat genetics and contribute to the gene pool in Canada. In Newfoundland, over 94% of our food is shipped in, so we sell our bottom performers for meat to help improve the food security of the province. 

What is your biggest pain point when it comes to farming goats?

Farming in Newfoundland has its challenges. There are high costs of production, unpredictable and harsh weather, and there is a lot of marginal landscape. Farmers here are persistent and dedicated to continuing operations during challenging times which is an admirable attribute. Because Newfoundland is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, we do not have easy access to resources compared to farmers operating on the mainland.

Also, the gene pool in Canada for Boer goats is small, making it difficult to find new superior bloodlines. It’s concerning that Canada now has a closed gene pool, increasing our risks of inbreeding and genetic faults. The initiative by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for Canada to reach a Scrapie-free status while following the guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) is great. However, the process needs to be more collaborative and not imposed on breeders.

Due to the closed gene pool of the goat population in Canada, defects are starting to become more noticeable in herds due to the elevated levels of inbreeding i.e., crooked jaws, low immunity, low resistance to parasites, kidding issues, low milk production, etc. If we can’t get new bloodlines into our herds to improve our genetics, we won’t have much to show after achieving a scrapie-free country status. With that said, I am optimistic that the CFIA will support breeders in developing superior genetics here in Canada.

What do you like most about farming goats?

 What I enjoy most about farming goats is the happiness that it brings me. Back home in Nigeria my family farmed both goats and cattle and it was something that I wanted to continue in adulthood since settling in Newfoundland. While farming goats is demanding work, it is something I truly enjoy, and I find it therapeutic. Being able to take care of the goats and watch them grow and conform to the standards has been a wonderful experience.

First registered buck: 3 weeks old Atlantic Igor

Is there anything that you’re particularly proud of about your operation? Or any standout moments/memories?

Atlantic Goats has been able to establish a foundation breeding stock with attributes we like through the collection of superior genetics that we acquired from other breeders. Our goal is to continue to add new healthy superior bucks to our herd and improve our bloodline. We are excited about the contribution of high-performance and health-status goats that we will be adding to the gene pool in Canada.

One of the key parts of our operation is the support we get from the agricultural vets in the province. We have a support line that we can call during times of crisis where the vets can deal with an animal within 30-60 minutes. Without their support, we would face even more challenges with our herds and potentially lose interest in livestock farming.

Newfoundland was built with the help of small ruminants, and we are grateful to be able to contribute to this. Since our province is isolated from the mainland, most of our food is imported by boat. If there are operational issues or import restrictions, the boats don’t run, and this allows Atlantic goats to offer food security and sustainability to the environment. Additionally, goat meat is a highly desirable meat in the world and with the growing immigrant population in Newfoundland, we help various ethnic groups connect with their culture through food. Lastly, the joy the goats bring to the O’Brien Farm community and my family is invaluable. Being able to watch children and adults interact and learn about farming is a unique experience of which we are proud.

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