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What began in 1984 as an endeavor to provide milk for their own family has grown into a thriving dairy goat operation for Will and Deb Dillon, called Salal Ridge Dairy Goat Farm. As the saying goes, they couldn’t have done it without a little help from friends and a little life experience living and working on a dairy farm to learn the ropes of animal husbandry.
“We received lots of encouragement and mentoring from members of a dairy goat group in our community,” Deb explains. For Will and Deb, becoming Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) for their Nubian and Oberhasli dairy goats is an opportunity to continue to build links with communities across the West coast—and the country. “We look forward to participating in this group of like-minded people in promoting the well-being of animals and respect for the land,” Deb says. The Dillons also prioritize the importance of consumer education, and they are hoping that Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW certification will help their visitors and customers understand the importance of pasture-based management for future sustainability.
Salal Ridge Dairy Goat Farm is nestled in the Oregon coastal foothills. Originally a pioneering homestead of the area, the 20-acre farm is surrounded by natural forests and is composed of meadows and wooded areas for the goats to range and browse year-round. The docile and productive Nubian and Oberhasli goats enjoy a variety of forage and roaming areas, with plenty of space to wander alone or travel in small herds. As Deb puts it, “The size of the dairy goats and their curious nature makes them an ideal creature for the farm—and they’re the ‘real’ owners of our farm space!”
The most important aspect of the Dillon’s pasture-based management is for the goats to have free access to open pasture and browse, as well as access to clean, dry, well ventilated barn space during inclement weather. The Dillon’s ability to interact with the goats at a minimum every morning and evening is fundamental to the goat’s health and overall well-being. These techniques result in a high quality of life for the goats—and a high quality product. “Our dairy goats are happy and well-loved,” Deb explains. “With free access to pasture, we produce healthy, vibrant goats that provide the best milk and offspring with heritable traits to thrive on the land.”
In the long term, Will and Deb hope to promote their small sustainable farm model to other family farmers, including responsible, high-welfare care for the animals and a sustainable relationship with the land.