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Goatober Farmer Profile: Cherrie Nolden

I’ve heard Cherrie speak at a meat goat producer meeting when I first was getting started raising goats, then later met her through our state-wide grazing organization, GrassWorks. There aren’t many of us in Wisconsin raising meat goats on forage alone, so it was great to connect with her. She’s a wealth of information when it comes to grazing and goats and have appreciated her willingness to share what’s she’s learned through her work with goats and research as well.

Name: Cherrie Nolden

Farm: 1dr Acres Farm

Location: Dodgeville, WI, the Driftless Area in Southwestern Wisconsin

Tell me about your farm/business and work with goats. 

My husband and I have a forage-based, low-input meat goat production system (no grain, no deworming, no kidding assistance, metabolically-efficient, naturally healthy on what grows here, and essentially organic). We currently have 200 goats and intend to grow the herd to 400-600 does, based on access to more land. Sale of meat goats is our focus for income, and application of our herd to improve the value of our land that is brush-invaded. Although I’ve done contract browsing in the past, I don’t do that currently but am happy to provide references of good contractors. We are not certified organic because there isn’t a financial reason to complete the extra paperwork, but our herd could qualify if a market for organic goat meat becomes viable.

  • I’ve been a mentor for goat and sheep brush and weed management contract browsers/graziers since 2010.
  • I’m a Board director and founding member of the Wisconsin Meat Goat Association, representing the commercial meat goat producer and working on policy priorities in Wisconsin.
  • I’m part of a SARE grant testing out the virtual fencing system from Norway, NoFence, on goats applied for brush management in Wisconsin.
  • My Master’s Degree in 2019 was in Agroecology and focused on application of goats for brush control in oak savanna restoration.
  • My PhD is in-progress and the research was focused on grazing goat and cattle parasite management with an egg-based antibody that I produced by making a vaccine, vaccinating chickens, collecting and testing antibody titers, coproculture of goat and cattle parasites, dosing of the goats with parasites, treatment of the goats with the antibody, and assessment of fecal count changes due to treatment.
  • I’ve taught about goat and sheep management on pasture, parasite management, nutrition, and LGD training and use, at the Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, and the UW-Madison School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers, and the Wisconsin Dairy Goat Association annual meeting for many years.

What’s your market? Where do you offer your services/products?

  • We sell meat goats at auction when they are market-ready. They are typically sent through the Fennimore, WI auction. We don’t have the time to do direct marketing or selling just a few goats at a time to private buyers for meat.
  • Free educational materials, and links to materials that can be purchased are items that I regularly send out to people who are interested in goat production and targeted grazing. Text (608-477-1981), email wonderacres@yahoo.com, or Facebook Cherrie Nolden are ways to contact me for those materials.
  • We have breeding-quality bucklings available each fall, from our selections of hardy goats. 
  • We have goat browsing starter herds of wethers available each fall.
  • Once our herd is up to 400 does, we will have good quality doelings available for breeding stock.

How/why did you get into doing this work?

My BS degree was in Wildlife Ecology in 2000, and I was very involved in prairie restoration, which primarily focused on cutting and herbiciding brush where it was too thick for fire to be effective. I saw the opportunity of goats for brush management, with the benefit of a valuable product being the outcome (meat) and no need for chemicals or dangerous operation of large equipment in steep landscapes. So, I bought goats and started conducting research in the Upper Midwest, where data was not available on the application of goats for brush management. In the process I learned about other production limitations with goats and have been working on solving those problems through our goat management and selection process on our farm and through formal research institutions. As I realized that I had knowledge and skills that others were seeking, I started sharing that information and producing formal teaching materials on the relevant topics.

Why do you like working with goats?

They are smart and challenging, plus uniquely useful for environmental challenges that we face in this transition area between the prairie and forest biomes.

What’s one tip, trick, hack or favorite tool that you use with your goats?

Kidding without needing human labor on pasture; genetic selection for desired traits.

Where can people find you online (or your work)?

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