Alberta’s goat sector is small but its members are doing what they can to support each other during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Alberta Goat Association has been reaching out to its members to let them know that we’re here and if they have any questions we are here to support them with anything that they are having issues with,” said Mallory Kaiser, the group’s vice-president.
Board members have called all 34 members of the association and talked to them personally, said Kaiser, who raises Kiko goats, a meat goat breed, on a grain farm near the small community of Fourth Creek in Peace Country.
Each person’s situation is a bit different — some raise goats for meat, others for fibre or milk, and some for weed management — but it just helps to talk with another producer at this time, she said.
Some goat producers are operating with less help than they normally do around kidding time (which for some is spring while others began in January).
Kaiser usually relies on her mother-in-law but that’s not possible now because of social distancing.
“So we’re making sure that we can juggle the babies, and making sure we have enough stuff and don’t have to run into town,” she said.
The supply of gloves, masks and other personal protective equipment — or PPE — is a concern, she said.
“If you’re handling animals, you should be wearing some sort of PPE,” said Kaiser. “Hopefully people aren’t going to the UFAs and taking those from producers.”
This is also the time of year for auctions and while some are still scheduled to go ahead with limited attendance, sales have been moving online.
Association members have also noticed websites trying to take advantage of new Canadians during the pandemic by selling halal meat at inflated prices.
“The prices of goat meat are not going up and you don’t need to be spending $20 for a pound of goat meat,” said Kaiser.