Meet Fiona Harrar, livestock manager for Premier 1 Supplies in Iowa.
I’ve gotten to know Fiona and the other farm managers at Premier 1 through Instagram. I love this equipment supplier has a working, experimental farm to test and use its products for sheep and goats.
Name: Fiona Harrar
Farm: Premier Experimental Farms
Location: Southeast Iowa
Tell me about the farm, your work with goats and as a livestock manager.
The farm at Premier 1 Supplies has 800-1,000 hair sheep and about 40 boer and boer x american savannah goats, 2 horses, and a small flock of laying hens. We breed and raise livestock guardian and Border Collies for herding. We are a working production farm with 3 full time employees working alongside the farm owner. We test the products that are sold by Premier 1 Supplies.
The goats are integrated into a system designed for sheep, so we are constantly working on the challenges that come with that. Portable electric fencing is one of our main products and goats are good test subjects for its efficacy!
What’s your market? Where do you offer your services/products?
Our does kid once a year in the winter and we generally market the kids at the local sale barn in the summer for Eid al-Adha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice. We also sell bottle kids and some breeding stock. We try to retain most of the females for the herd.
All the products and supplies we sell can be found on the Premier 1 Supplies website. We are also open to the public for purchases M-F, year-round.
How/why did you get into this work?
Premier started to provide supplies and equipment to small farmers that was not readily available in the US at the time. The owners wanted to provide a resource to help small ruminant farmers be more efficient and economically sustainable.
We recognize that goat production is an ever-growing industry, so we keep goats to appeal to that customer base.
Why do you like working with goats?
My background is in grazing management. I like that goats add diversity to our grazing rotation with the sheep. It is fascinating to watch them graze and see what they prefer to eat compared to the sheep.
The goats are good for training our border collies to herd. They follow us better than our sheep do which is helpful in getting a pup started. They also offer comic relief with their funny personalities.
What’s one tip, trick, hack or favorite tool you use with your goats?
Becca, who is in charge of the goats likes the milking/trimming stand that Premier 1 sells. Since our does are horned, it can be difficult to safely restrain them for trimming feet, giving vaccinations, or even deworming.
She is able to work animals individually with the stand and head stall in a sage, stress free way for her and the animals.