Paul Tomcho and Krista Duval established Creekside Farm in Athens, Ohio, on property which had been abandoned for over 25 years, resulting in an overgrowth of brush in the pastures. The couple originally planned to use a small herd of goats to clear the brush and prepare the land for dairy cattle, but as time passed, they decided the landscape and terrain were a better fit for a fulltime herd of browsing, hillside-loving goats.
Today, Creekside Farm runs a herd of Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW Alpine and Toggenburg dairy goats. “Our main goal is to create a system where our goats can be goats,” says Paul. “We believe this leads to healthy animals, land and farmers.” Paul explains that they move the herd every few days to new pastures to promote both pasture and animal health. “With this rotational system the risk of ingesting parasites is diminished, which means we can avoid the routine use of wormers and other medications,” he says. “We are proud that our animals do not depend on the frequent use of medications to stay healthy.”
Aside from decreasing disease risks by regularly moving the herd, rotational grazing also improves the quality of forage available to the goats. Since most of their nutritional needs are met through grazing and browsing, Paul and Krista are able to minimize their use of costly supplemental grain feed. “Rotational grazing also prevents the goats from overgrazing or leaving behind only undesirable plants,” says Krista. “What they do leave behind, though, is their manure, which helps enrich our pasture soils and encourages lush plant growth.”
Paul and Krista sought Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW certification to verify they are raising their animals according to the highest welfare standards, outdoors on pasture. “After reading the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW farm standards we realized we were already meeting most of them,” Paul says. “Going through the application and audit gives us an opportunity to learn more and become better stock handlers. Additionally, it allows our customers to know with certainty the high standards we keep.”
Creekside Farm’s Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW goat cheese, yogurt and goat’s milk soap are available seasonally at select retail stores, as well as at the Athens Farmers’ Market on Wednesday and Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m from April through December. For more information about Creekside Farm, visit creeksidefarmathens.com or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Creekside Farm on Facebook at facebook.com/creeksidefarmathens.