Cary On Acres’ dwarf goat operation blossoming, looking toward future
MILLSTONE — In her youth, Cathy Cary’s first love was horses.
Born in South River and raised in a still-rural part of Monmouth County near the Middlesex County border, Cary grew up in the 4-H program.
She loved raising horses with the help of her farmer father, Paul Liva, who at 84, continues to grow hay and straw on the family’s since-subdivided 55-acre farm on Forman Road here.
In 2004, she started raising Nigerian dwarf goats instead when she discovered her two young kids were allergic to horses.
“I had every farm animal there is growing up. My father taught me everything about animals and I always loved goats,” she related at her kitchen table one cold afternoon in February.
After discovering her son and daughter were highly allergic to horses, “I was looking through a magazine one day and there they were,” she said of dwarf goats.
“We just decided to go for it,” Cary said.
She knew she wanted to raise her kids in the 4-H program and carry animal projects. Her father and husband helped set up pastures for the goats to enjoy in the 3-acre backyard as well as extensive dwarf goat housing where the animals can take shelter at night, in heavy rain and in extreme cold.
She launched her own business, Cary On Acres, in 2004, and set about raising goats for show at 4-H functions and county fairs. Cary and her dwarf goats are a presence at the Monmouth County Fair’s livestock tent every July, and they have been for many years now.
“They make great pets, for 4-H and FFA, you can show them and they can give up to two quarts a day of milk,” Cary said.
“I let my babies nurse on the mothers, so all the milk goes to the babies. I really don’t have a need for it, and I’ve sold my goats to people who use them for milk.”
Cary said someday soon she’ll start making soap using goats’ milk, but for now, she’s content to continue breeding championship-level show goats. She has won numerous awards for her goats at state and national goat shows.
“Most of my customers are 4-H people and other breeders,” she said. “The person I bought my first goats from encouraged me to get involved in goat breeding and all the goat shows. I’ve won quite a few awards from it.”
Cary said a highlight of her dwarf goat raising career was going to the American Dairy Goat Association national show in July, 2016 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
“We spent a couple of days out there and it was an awesome experience,” Cary said, adding the woman who sold her her first goats in 2004 “got me networked in the association and now we do a couple of shows every summer.”
Cary shows her Nigerian dwarf goats at the state 4-H show and the state show for the American Dairy Goat Association. The national competition is held in a different state every year.
“It’s breeders like me who join the associations, not so much the people who have goats as pets,” she said, noting she is an active member of both the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association and the American Dairy Goat Association.
“It’s my hobby, my passion and I do make money with it selling the babies every year, but it’s not enough to live on,” she said, noting her husband Bill works from home part of each week for Citibank.
She said she looks forward to April each year when her goats are ready to deliver their kids. This year, Cary will have six goats giving birth to kids starting in mid-April and into the beginning of May. Kids are raised to eight weeks of age and then sold, she said.
“Every year, I do have a small waiting list. I never have a problem selling them,” she said. Each year, she’ll let each newborn kid spend time nursing with the mother as well as some bottle feeding with her, “so they get nice and friendly to people.”
As with any type of animal farming, losses happen. Cary said she lost a mother and all the babies last May.
“My daughter and I had to drive to Pennsylvania to see a vet, he was the only vet who would do a C-section on a goat at midnight. Due to all the complications, I lost the doe and all the babies,” she recalled.
In her 15 years of raising dwarf goats, “I’ve had two still-borns and two C-sections. I’ve had a run of good luck, but I back it up with careful monitoring of the does. I know exactly when they are due to give birth. Last year, I lost an old one who was 16 years. That’s never easy, because really, they become part of the family.”
The joy and satisfaction of raising dwarf goats for show comes with the camaraderie she enjoys with all people in the associations she is a part of.
“There are so many wonderful people I meet,” she said. “I love the 4-H aspects of it and love being out in the country and working with them every day. If I didn’t love it so much, I wouldn’t be doing it.”
1-800-634-5021 410-822-3965 Fax- 410-822-5068
P.O. Box 2026 Easton, MD 21601-8925