In this podcast episode, Adam Ledvina, owner of Blue Collar Goatscaping, shares his journey into sustainable and innovative goat farming. Growing up between rural farmlands and a liberal arts education, Adam found a unique way to blend the two worlds. He shares how he transformed Kiko goats into productive assets and how he uses electric netting as tools for grazing goats and controlling invasive species. He also explores the future of farming, introducing the concept of virtual fencing for regenerative agriculture and rotational grazing.
Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual by Bill Mollison
Facebook: Blue Collar Goatscaping
These transcriptions are automatically generated. Please excuse any errors in the text.
0:00:00 – Cal Hardage
Welcome to the Grazing Grass Podcast, episode 67.
0:00:05 – Adam Ledvina
Sometimes you fail, sometimes you make it, but usually those failures are just ways to learn and learn how to do better next time, and eventually you’ll get there.
0:00:13 – Cal Hardage
You’re listening to the Grazing Grass Podcast, helping grass farmers learn from grass farmers, and every episode features a grass farmer and their operation. I’m your host, cal Hardeech. On today’s episode we have Adam Labina. We’re going to discuss goats and virtual fencing. I think just those two things are enough to be interested in it. We don’t have a large amount of guests that’s running goats, but he’s running goats and using it for goat escaping and we also talk about his virtual fence and how that’s working for him.
Before we get to Adam, 10 seconds about my farm. It’s basically about weather. It’s that time of year the heat dome has really set in Now. They did say the high pressure system is moving off to the southwest and not trying to make this a weather forecast, but this heat I’m not enjoying it. The forecast has some cooler weather for us. As soon as it cools down, we are going to win our Ram Lambs. Also I’m not sure if I mentioned this I picked up a few more Coriente Heifers. I’ve got them running with the bull, so pretty excited about that. I am ready for a little bit cooler weather, though. August is a very busy month for my off the farm job, so it’s going to keep me hooked up. I hope everything’s going great in your world. And don’t forget, we have the Grazing Grass Community on Facebook now, so you can just search for the Grazing Grass Community and click join. Love to have you there. Enough about all that, let’s talk to.
0:01:51 – Adam Ledvina
0:01:52 – Cal Hardage
Adam, we want to welcome you to the Grazing Grass Podcast. We’re excited you’re here today. I’m excited to be here. Thanks for having me, Adam. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your operation, sure, so we’re located in Central Iowa.
0:02:06 – Adam Ledvina
I run a large-scale holistic meat operation called Iowa Kiko Goats. We’ve got Kiko Goats. They’re breed out in New Zealand and they’re low maintenance, high performance, high production animal and we also do goat scaping. I run a business called Blue Car Goat Scaping and we take goats around the state and invasive species such as flora, rose, wild parsnip, poison, ivy, any kind of invasive brush, and have the goats eat that down. Very good.
0:02:36 – Cal Hardage
Where are you located for our listeners?
0:02:39 – Adam Ledvina
Yep, so I’m in Tama County, Iowa.
0:02:41 – Cal Hardage
Now, when you say Iowa, I just picture crops everywhere.
0:02:45 – Adam Ledvina
And a lot of people have that. I’d say misconception, but I mean it’s true to some degree. A lot of people say Iowa is pretty flat and it depends where you’re at. We’ve got the Lost Hills in Western Iowa. I want you flatten out from the Lost Hills against pretty flat through Western Iowa and then you’ve got the Des Moines Lobe, that kind of goes around, and then Northeast Iowa is super hilly, the driftless area, the blufflands up in the Wisconsin corner and then right here in Tama County we call it the Bohemia Alps. We got a bunch of people from Czech heritage and it’s real hilly here around the Iowa River. Anywhere along the Iowa River is pretty hilly, but here, especially Vining, cloutier, chelsea, tolio, tama, it’s pretty hilly and this is, I’d call it, goat country. So this is what we’re doing Now. Are you from that area? Yep, originally from this area. South Tama was my school district, this up in half of Tama County.
I grew up in Toledo. Tama, toledo is kind of a twin city. It’s just two little towns of about 2,000 people each. I grew up there and to Central College in Pella, so Pella was about an hour and a half away From there. I studied abroad a little bit. That’s where I got a little more cultured and bounced around for a while and worked all over the place. Coming back here, pretty close to home, close to where my parents farmed.
And did you grow up on a farm? No, both sets of grandparents farmed. My mom’s side and my dad’s side both farmed pretty traditionally, I mean corn, soybeans, cattle. My dad’s side had a dairy for a while. It was pretty small dairy, and then on the other side, my mom’s side, they had bad hogs, chickens, I mean a little bit. It was a little unique but pretty general typical farming corn, soybeans, hay cattle, and so that was my grandparents. And then going to my parents, I mean, dad’s a carpenter, mom’s a secretary, and so I didn’t have that next generation farm.
Like I didn’t grow up on the farm per se, but like summers I’d be out doing something on the farms. But I think that really helped with my where I’m at now as far as, like my, I didn’t have that whole. Well, we do it this way because we’ve always done it this way, like we skipped a generation there and so I could kind of come back with these new ideas and you know, farm-fetched ideas in some some regard. But and then, like. I went to a four-year liberal arts school. Like you know, a lot of people have different. It wasn’t an ag school and so I learned different things again studying abroad in Europe for a semester and spending some time just learning different things and coming back with. You know, I see how the world operates now and not just not just small town Iowa, and there’s the amazing ways that they can coexist and work together with two different mindsets and I kind of walk that fine line between two worlds and a lot of different aspects of my life.
0:05:37 – Cal Hardage
Very good. One thing I didn’t hear in any of that was goats. So when did you get interested in goats?
0:05:46 – Adam Ledvina
Both of my grandpa’s. Actually, they passed away when I was a senior in high school and so I left to go to college and the family rented out the two farms to neighbors and farmers, to you know, basically rent it and do, do, do row crop and had cattle and doing. Basically there was no continuation of the existing farm because it’s all rented out, but that lands there and and there’s an opportunity in a sense. Now I didn’t have to worry too much about the farm. I didn’t know I was coming back to farm by any, by any means, and the farms again. The farms are taken care of. They rented out, everything was fine, but I still. I come back and I see trees growing up everywhere and a rented farm is never going to be quite as cared for as an owned farm or a family, a family line farm I don’t know how you would say that a dynasty farm. So when I see certain things like, well, that could get cleaned up and I’d come back from college I’d scrap some metal, I’d scrap some, some junk that was around or a little thing here and there, well then I’d come back the next summer and things were grown back up again and not necessarily maintained the way I’d like to see it maintained and I maybe I shouldn’t care because I’m not there, but graduated college I was.
I studied environmental science, biology, that kind of stuff. I was pretty into conservation management and working for the, the DNR, the Pet Department of Natural Resources for the state and a couple of different pathways there with pheasants forever and AmeriCorps. I ended up moving down to Florida. I worked down in the Everglades for their state department and did surveys on wildlife. Moving out to California, working in the parks, a lot of different things I mean between conservation management and fire, prescribed burns and everything pretty much based on conservation management.
But while I’m out there, everywhere you know we’re burning, we’re spraying herbicide to kill off invasive species control and we are running you know $100,000 track track loaders with a fecon head, a forestry head mulcher on it to chop up invasive species and everything I’m doing. I’m I’m thinking, well, you know, goats can do this and it’s kind of a ha ha moment. Goats can do this but like, who has goats? Who do goats? And? And it kind of have to be a little harebrained to get to get into goats. And while I’m on a 45 degree steep slope clearing invasive species with a brush cutter, rolling an ankle and and I don’t like to be spraying herbicide and both. My grandpa’s head passed away from cancer and you know they’re farmers that spray things all the time and you always got to wonder was it connected to that? And step away from that. And and so I got. I got a few goats and a few goats. If you know goats, a few turns into a few more goats and then it just snowballs from there and now it’s a lot of goats.
0:08:31 – Cal Hardage
So when you you got a few goats. How’d you get started with just a few goats? Just just share us about your start there.
0:08:39 – Adam Ledvina
I think I had the first goats I got. I got five goats. They got four does and a buck, and again these were cross breed goat. They’re just random goats that somebody had and we had. They have four does and a buck.
And then I ended up getting a bunch of bottle kids from a dairy it was. It was a dairy has gone out of business, so like that stinks for them. It worked out really well for me because they had the Dover sold but the kit they were bred and the buyer wasn’t coming quick enough. So basically they had these kids that were already sold but the people weren’t ready for it. So I just found myself in a nice spot and I don’t know how I got there. We were like driving by and they had goats and I stopped and talked to them and this opportunity came up and it was an older couple that kind of knew what I was into with this crazy idea and they’re like that sounds cool, here we’ll support you. So I was getting the baby goats and they were actually they were dumping the milk because they their contract. They didn’t have the contract to sell the milk and they already sold the goats, so they’re just basically milking them to keep them in good condition.
So I had the baby goats and I had the milk supply and it was like two and a half hours from home, so it was up in Northeast Iowa where you know Wisconsin, northeast Iowa a lot of dairies are up there Not that many goat dairies but but they really. Yeah, that’s I had. I think I had close to a hundred bottle kids that that winter. And between that winter’s bottle kids and then my five goats that had babies I was selling the males to pay for the milk and feed to keep the babies, the females, around. And then I kind of went from there and after a year of using a boar buck and seeing the issues that come from boar goat genetics, I ended up getting a Kiko buck and really saw a night and day difference and that’s where the Kiko thing started, so pretty close to where I started with goats. I started with Kiko but there was about a year lapse between goats in general and then specifically Kiko and then it grew from there pretty substantially.
0:10:36 – Cal Hardage
I had a similar start. Not, I didn’t have any kids bottle kids like that, I’m not sure I want any, to be honest. But I started with boar goats and I’m and I know there’s some boar goats out there that’ll produce A lot of the boar goats in my area are show goats so. So you got to be really particular about what you get, and I I didn’t do a good job of that. I purchased some show goats and thought I could make them into production animals. I didn’t learn as fast as you. It took me probably three, four years before I got a Kiko. And then then I was like, oh, this is so much better, at least for what I was doing. I didn’t care about showing, I was. I wanted them to kid, I wanted them kid in the pasture, I wanted to walk out there and count them and ear tag them and I didn’t want to babysit them, and for me that worked out good. So I was a little bit of a slow learner there. It took me a little bit longer.
0:11:31 – Adam Ledvina
A lot of people make that mistake with. You know you get into boar goats and especially sale barns. People go to sale barns and see a lot of boar goats selling and they hear that you got to have boar goats because they’re they’re a big meat goat and at a time they were one of the only meat goats. Kiko’s are a fairly new breed but with the boar goats that’s what you see, it shows. You go to county fair, state fair, all these different fairs. You see boar goats and you think that’s the only thing there is.
And so you get a bunch of boar goats and then you’re kind of stuck in there. You spend a lot of money on them and you just kind of keep breeding these problems and you don’t know. You don’t know that you’re reading a problem for a couple of years. You don’t really see like a poor mothering or a lack of fair side, resistance, different things like that, and so you just kind of stick with it for a couple of years and after a few years you’re losing money and then you might learn that there’s other breeds out there to experiment with. And we did that too. We experimented, we’ve had, we’ve had every breed you can, and once you have something that works, it’s like well, is it was it me or was it the goats? Like maybe it’s because I didn’t know anything, because I just had my first goats. We got some Savannah, we got some Spanish, we got some faying goats. We’ve had a little bit of everything and all the different dairy breeds and we’ve had everything, and Kiko is really the thing that works the best for us.
0:12:45 – Cal Hardage
I have to agree. Now I did purchase some Spanish does and I plan on crossing these up a little bit, but the Kiko’s worked out wonderfully for me Just at. The timing wasn’t right. I will probably buy some more in the future. I say probably that way. My wife’s listening. She just thinks it’s a possibility. But when you got all those goats, did you have any trouble with keeping them in?
0:13:10 – Adam Ledvina
So I learned pretty quick and especially I started this business for the brush management side of things. So I started with electric net. So Premier one electric net, fencing and nine strands of electric nets with vertical stays and that if you keep it hot, that’s not a problem. The only time you’d have a goats out with that is if, one, you’ve got jumpers or two, your fence comes down because of deer or a branch or something like that. But if you can stay on top of it there’s no big issues with that.
Problem comes when you with your permanent, your hard fences, the things that you think as a producer will work, and they don’t, and if you just step away from like this is where, again, I had a pretty good experience as a first, almost a first generation, or a first generation back to farming. I didn’t have, you know, my dad saying no, you can’t do that, because XYZ it was. I’m making this up as I go. My parents are very supportive of it and I’m sure there were times they’re really questioning what the heck I was doing. But the other nice thing was since, again, those farms with my grandpa both my grandpa’s passed away my senior high school and they those farms grew up, trees grew in the fence lines they got. They got destroyed over time and basically the whole farm needed to be refenced. And if you’ve got really bad fences, you know not to trust them, whereas if you have mediocre fences then you’re going to.
Or even if you have a new cattle fence, you have a lot of fence. You have a new five or six strand barbed wire fence. You just put a bunch of money into it. You’re going to want to use that. Well, that’s not going to keep goats in. Barbed wire is not going to keep goats in. And then it’s. Your goats might be walking through and then they’re going to slice and utter. When now you’ve got a hazard. And if you’ve got a woven wire fence or a traditional woven wire fence the six by six then you’ve got a headcatch and goats have horns. So you stick your head through. You got a barbed hook, those goats are stuck and they probably they will be there for a while and they will probably die If you’re not there to pull them out. So you will have casualties and you’ll either learn from it or you’ll continue to have those problems. You’ll puss goats and then you won’t have goats anymore because you’re sick of the problem.
I always look at things as a positive and I try to learn from my mistakes and improve on them. And again, with old fences I’m tearing it all out and putting it in new anyway. So at the time I’m thinking, well, I’ll put my money where my mouth is, pay a little bit more for these hard fences and I’ll have good goat type fences. Well, after math and all out, it’s actually cheaper to go with the fences that I use and one. The electric net fences are mobile, I can go anywhere with them.
I use nothing but electric net for three years and then I started getting hard fences and I learned I used four by four hard fences for one or two years and I learned still had some issues with those because the four by four you still have babies get stuck and those babies don’t last very long being stuck. So then we stopped. We still have some of those because we already installed them, we put the money into them and they work to some degree. We now use 12 inch vertical stays on our hard fences. So it’s built just like our electric net fences. It’s stay tough.
Out of Texas there’s this stuff I really like. It’s 12 inch vertical stays, so the goats put their head through. They eat on the other side. They eat your mulberry trees, your cedar trees, all the stuff that your birds are pooping out and growing on your fence lines. They eat all that to keep it clean and that amazing stuff. And I have to buy the semi load because nobody carries it around here. So I buy a semi load of stay tough fence and install miles and miles of it and I couldn’t be happier with it.
0:16:39 – Cal Hardage
Luckily for us I don’t have to buy that much. We do have a few pastures fenced in that goat wire with the 12 inch stays and it works out great. We did just put in a four by four wire filled wire fence on my dad’s place. Of course we don’t have any goats on my dad’s place now. They’re all running on lease land. That’s been a worry about mine with the four by four, because I’ve used some four by four goat panels or horse panels and sometimes a kid will get a head hung and you got to be quick about that. Now on the lease land I’ve gone with electro netting or electric netting, which works out great, other than the labor To move it. It’s a workout. So what tips do you have for that?
0:17:26 – Adam Ledvina
I call it my gym membership. I enjoy it. I like being outside. It’s still work, but it keeps me fit. I know I would be twice the man I am today if I wasn’t working outside putting in the miles. I’ve got an Apple Watch just to see. People always ask me you’re always outside doing stuff, how many steps do you get at, how many miles? On average, I’m hitting 20,000 steps a day, walking 5 to 10 miles a day, or more than that depending on where I’m at. But again, it’s my business, it’s my life. I’m hiking and new fencing and picking it all up Again, I love it. You get exercise, you get the endorphins going. You’re outside. I’m eating berries. I’ve got my dog with me and you’re outside getting your tan on. I love my operation.
0:18:15 – Cal Hardage
The worst part for me on moving the netting is the honey locust trees, one of the least properties I have. They have just grown up thick. I just love what goats do to them, but I have to make my trail where I’m not too close to those. That’ll grab that netting and then I’ve got to untangle it. Outside of that it works great. I’ve even thought about increasing my numbers and grazing some areas that’s not so brushy.
0:18:47 – Adam Ledvina
That’s the stuff you want them on anyway. One you want to get it cleared out, put the goats on it. Two I used to hate honey locusts because that is popping all your tires and causing problems. You hit the thorns, but that’s actually well. One it’s a nitrogen fixer. It’s a legume. It’s a nitrogen fixer. It’s high protein. It’s very good for the goats to eat the seed pods. Everything about them, the seed pods of the leaves, everything about them is a good nutrition source. We watch deer or turkeys. They’re always out there eating those honey locust pods. I used to have so many trail camera pictures of a deer standing up with a honey locust pod in its mouth. All the goats are doing the same thing. You know it’s a good wildlife and just animal protein source in general.
0:19:33 – Cal Hardage
Austin. That was on our podcast I don’t even know what episode right now a long time ago, talking about Silbo Pastors. He’s a honey locust fan If you can find some variety. He’s made with a few less thorns. He’s talking about those seed pods. You can breed them for higher energy and get different types of seed pods. I was actually looking the other day. I’ve got seed pods in the trees already. I was a little surprised by that. I thought it would be a little bit later.
0:20:06 – Adam Ledvina
Sure, sure. Silbo Pastors has two different spectrums. You’ve got where you’re planting, say, a grass field, an open field, two species. Then you’ve got the other end where you’ve got all that stuff already and you’re grazing it, working the trees. I fall into that spectrum of things where I don’t have to plant anything. They’re already out there and I’m using what’s already there.
That is neat when you can plant a certain variety of almost like a problem species. But if you can breed less thorns, more protein, more fruit, more volume in the pod, that’s awesome. You can plant mulberry trees and honey locusts. Again, most people see it as a problem species. But if you’ve got goats and you can contain them, then they’re not a problem. I’ve got areas like that, that these are in the center of my farm. They will not escape if I have goats. If something happens where I don’t have goats anymore, I can light a fire, burn through. Most of those are pretty susceptible to fire and then they’ll be gone. Again, I’m a wild and fire fighter. I’m used to using fire as my tool for clearing invasives between the goats and the fire. I definitely don’t need my chemical herbicide or my expensive equipment.
0:21:13 – Cal Hardage
Oh yeah, In fact, let’s just talk just a little bit about your prescribed burns and if you use that as a tool, For me I’ve never used it as a tool because I was never raised around it. I did take a range management class when I was going to college and they talked about prescribed burns, especially in this area for eastern red cedar, but for me I’m not familiar enough with it. To me it’s one of those tools that I don’t have in my tool belt because I’m not familiar with it or even when I would use it for sure.
0:21:51 – Adam Ledvina
Sure, it’s one of those things If you’re not super skilled with it, you’re not super familiar with it. It’s good to not have it in your tool belt and just leave it to the professionals. Because now, as a volunteer firefighter for our local department, we have calls all the time of an auto control fire and nine times out of 10, it was somebody started their own fire and it got away from them. I’ve professionally trained, I’ve learned to. I don’t even use water when I conduct my own fires. You should always have water as a backup, but if you can train yourself to not need it, great. Like I have a drip torch which is a diesel gas fuel mixture that pours out, just drips out, and you can control a line, light a line with that and then a leaf blower. That’s all I need to really control a fire. Again, having water as a emergency backup is great and things can go faster with that. But if I can walk, I don’t need a truck or equipment, I can just walk it, control it. Yeah, a couple guys do, a couple people doing that. You’re safe.
But when I worked for the DNR, even my conservation management in college like my conservation management classes like fire was a big part of the North American ecosystem and a lot of trees wouldn’t be in certain areas because there’d be fire that would continue to go, whether it was lit by lightning or Native Americans, and it would just be fire controlling the or not controlling, but openly controlling the landscape, and especially in Iowa. Iowa is a prairie state and there would be fires coming through all the time between the buffalo herds and fire. Things were a lot different than they are now, but when I went out to California, down in Florida, I was on fire teams and working at the local DNR in Iowa, the state department. We would do prescribed fires to manage prairies, bringing back more of prairies, taking out more trees that can’t survive fire, which is just about everything. But oaks and oaks are the trees that you’d like to have around, and less of the weedy trees like your cottonwoods and mulberries and just different things that are less, less useful, especially from a habitat standpoint. Your oaks, one of your best habitat trees between acorns, and just the fact that everything lives in an oak tree.
And then, when I was working for the Musquaki Natural Resource Department here in Tama County, we had to be federally red carded, so you really have to go through all your fire trainings, basically ready to go out west whenever the call comes in. And that was just a standard. Since we were a sovereign nation, we get treated like as a federal employee, so we have to be up to the federal standards with the red cards and do pack tests and everything. So I’m a little almost overqualified for a lot of fire in Iowa, but it’s good to be overqualified nine times out of 10. And so then, when my local Chelsea Fire Department found out that I was federally red carded and had all this experience, I was quickly recruited to be on the volunteer fire department and we enjoy our grass fires.
0:24:46 – Cal Hardage
I imagine so, and I do think you hit on point there. If you’re not familiar with it, leave it to professionals. It’s definitely something you don’t want to get out of hand. Anyway, enough about the burns, let’s go back to your goats. So you’re using electro netting to fence them in and move them. How often are you rotating them? You mentioned earlier about goat scaping Expand to pull nuts some.
0:25:11 – Adam Ledvina
In general I like to move them, honestly, as quickly as possible. If you could move them every day. As you know, with a lot of cattle, cattlemen, regenerative agriculture moving them every day is great. Twice a day, that’s amazing. If you’ve got the time to do it and whatnot, I’ll say that nothing’s easier than another. I’d say anything is easy. But moving a single strand of electric fence is probably a little easier than moving a nine strand polyelectro net fencing. We have to moalign to put our electric fences on. So I will say we usually move within a week, about a week, no more than three weeks depending on how big our paddocks are. That’s how often we move the goats. That one one that’s great for the vegetation.
I kind of go off of a 50% kind of two different ways of looking at it. They eat half, leave half. For the vegetation I’ve heard eat a third, trample a third and leave a third. Either way about the same look. You move them when the land tells you to move them. And then also to biology of the goat. The goats and sheep are just more susceptible to internal parasites. So you want to kind of move them occasionally to keep them on fresh pastures. And then the flirt concept is great If you’ve got cattle and goats and sheep all mixed together. They kind of eat each other’s parasites and keep a clean herd that way. But we just use the goats for the brush management. So we rotate to a certain degree when the animals tell us to it and when the vegetation tells us to and when the calendar tells us to, it fits been within a certain timeline, but usually usually about a week or less.
0:26:40 – Cal Hardage
But let’s jump in there just before you get to the goatscaping. So you graze this area. It’s got some brush in it. How soon do you come back to that? When we’re thinking about cattle, you know we’re thinking 30 days, 45 days, 60 days, depending on the growth of that plant. But when we look at brush and trees, their growth rates are different than what we’re doing with with grasses and weeds.
0:27:06 – Adam Ledvina
Sure, but there’s a couple of different ways that I look at when to move, when to come back. Like I, initially I’m clearing out brush on rented ground, trying to clear that brush, but then, after I’m picking up these goatscaping jobs, I almost want some of that brush back to. I don’t want to initially knock it out of the areas that I’m using as my home place, but when I’m out on jobs I want to knock it out, get it cleared out to like 85, 95% of the leaf, 85 to 95% of the leaf matter gone and then, once it starts putting on new buds, we want to come back and hit it again in order to kill the plant. If I’m trying to manage, like on a silver pasture, if you’re trying to manage to keep your browse, that kind of stuff, you want to use it to a certain degree. Don’t, don’t kill it and then let it regrow. Don’t come back for a while so that it keeps growing. Two different ways to look at it. It’s very different management on whether you’re trying to raise, raise animals, raise goats on a piece of property versus clear out an invasive species problem. So yeah, it’s all in that time timing you want to get them.
Don’t let that foliage regrow. If you’re trying to knock it out, Just stay on top of it. Basically, it puts out the leaves. Knock out the leaves Once it sucks up all the energy out of the roots and puts on another set of leaves. Clear it again and if it has anything left in its system it’ll sometimes require a third time. But if you can knock it out, you can raise a piece of ground three times. In one year you’re probably going to kill off all of the invasive brush multi-flora rows. I’ve killed that in one hit. Honey suckle is a little tupper that usually requires two or three hits. It tends to have leaves on into December even so. It’s just a longer lasting tupper plant. So oaks and honeysuckle about the only thing that’s still green in December, late November.
0:28:49 – Cal Hardage
So when you you mentioned there about it really depends on your goals for that area. When you’re thinking about your goatscaping business, is that typically what you’re doing, you’re going in to to get rid of those invasive species?
0:29:05 – Adam Ledvina
Yes, that’s. That’s a hundred percent of reason people call me for the goatscaping is hey, we’ve got a problem. We need to get rid of this invasive species. We either don’t want to use herbicide, we don’t have the manpower to go in there and cut it selectively, cut it one by one, we don’t have the funds to get a machine in there, or and we don’t want to fire to get away from this. So, like when you, there’s always a reason that you can’t have one of those four other ingredients.
Goats is almost always friendly, like there’s. There’s no negative to the goats, aside from, like you know, if the goats can get out or something like that. But again, we’ve got a very good tracker of keeping our goats contained. They digest 96% of seeds that go through them. They do a very good job of not passing any seeds to create another problem, and they eat everything you want them to eat.
They, for the most part, don’t eat things that you want to keep, especially like doing prayer restoration on steep hill slopes. You want to clear out all the invasive brush, the woody brush. So once they eat all the woody brush, then we can move them because we don’t need them to sit there and eat grass. The prayer grass is the prairie forbs. Usually you don’t want to have them eat that anyway. The only thing is like sometimes they’ll nibble on an oak and you probably want to keep an oak around. But oaks are pretty resilient. They can handle fire. They can handle little grazing, more so than those weaker species. Those fast growing weak species versus a very slow growing strong species can withstand the multiple grazes versus those invasions that grow fast and get killed fast too.
0:30:37 – Cal Hardage
I see on TikTok with goatscaping and they’re moving goats into. It’s almost like an overgrown lot and they’re grazing down that lot. Are you doing some of that, or is this on a bigger scale? What’s it look?
0:30:52 – Adam Ledvina
like Small jobs, big jobs, medium jobs. Last week cleared out over a thousand acres across the state of Iowa. Most of my jobs are that medium to large size because I’ve just got a lot of animals. I’ve got over 10 miles of electric net fencing and pretty good control over everything. You could be a smaller operator and clear out those lots in town. I’m also in Tama County, iowa it’s you call it, the middle of nowhere, the center of everything we’re right inside of. We’re about an hour from each direction from major city Cedar Falls an hour north. Waterloo is an hour north. Cedar Rap is an hour east, des Moines an hour west. Iowa City is an hour like everything is an hour away. So like I rather do these smaller, maybe medium sized jobs, I like the five to 10 acre jobs. Those are great for me. One acre jobs I still do them, it’s just I can cover a lot more ground with a lot more animals doing larger jobs.
0:31:46 – Cal Hardage
Yeah, the logistics of that sound like they could be a nightmare. Does someone stay with the goats on site or are you putting out the electric netting providing a water source and you’re leaving the goats there for a number of days? And you talked about how often you move them earlier.
0:32:02 – Adam Ledvina
Well, moapath will set electric net up and we’ve got good hot fencer. We put a lot of money into our fencing system because, again, that’s going to be your weak point, and so we keep those nice and hot. Keep the deer, the predators, out, keep the goats in. I work with my landowners, the people who want the job done, kind of work with them on if they’ve got somebody on hand that can check things, but also if there’s any question, I’m there that day, but if it can save me a certain trip. For the most part I’m driving a big circle, hitting all the jobs every day, every other day, and so I’m again depending on the job, but I’ve got eyes on goats within 24 to 48 hours. Waters there. We’ve got like to have a water source available, like I like to put them in a stream.
Typically, your goat jobs are going to be on a steep embankment which is going to have a stream at the bottom of it. I say on a normal year because we’ve had three years of drought. This is the worst one yet and there’s no water on a lot of places, which also helps on the grazing job when you’re doing a goat scaping job and knocking out the brush and there’s no water for those roots to suck up and put on foliage. They’re easier kills. The jobs are done better on a drought year, but then, yeah, just getting water to them can be an issue.
We’ve got water tankers that we’re hauling around. If it’s a small job, we’ve got a 50 gallon drum on a four wheeler or a ranger. If it’s a big job, we’ve got or a medium job, I’ve got a 275 gallon IBC on the back of a three quarter ton pickup. And if it’s a really big job, I’ve got three, two 75 gallon tanks, so about 800 to 1000 gallons, on a trailer that goes to those big jobs and can dump a lot of water in a hurry and it just yeah. We’ve got a lot of tears, a lot of tears to our systems.
0:33:44 – Cal Hardage
One thing when you talk about a small job, medium job, large job, what kind of goat numbers are you talking about with those jobs?
0:33:51 – Adam Ledvina
So I like to run a number of 100 goats clear out about an acre a day and that’s not always exact. It just depends on what kind of forage it is, how big the goats are, kind of appetite. Are they lactating females Are they? Are they kids? There’s a lot of different variables, but about 100 goats will knock out an acre a day and I used to operate with 16 foot bumper hitch trailers.
When I started the operation I had an old 95 pickup with a 1980 Kieferbilt rusted out trailer and I’m doing little jobs here and there and I’ve since.
Now I’ve got in my fleet there’s three trucks, four 16 foot bumper hitch trailers and those are moving all the time because he can never have one down. So even if I I can’t drive all of them at the same time, but I’ve got help that will drive them and or you know, one has an issue. We switched the other one but I just made a big step and now we’ve got a 24 foot new goose neck trailer, aluminum, that can haul a hundred head to 80 to 100 head at a time and three three quarter ton trucks. So I can. I can move a lot more with that, but so I typically have 40 to 50 goats on a job, or a hundred or a hundred plus I mean one to 500 on some jobs. And like we’ll clear, we’ll clear 300 acres with five, six, 700 goats and moving them every week across the property, clearing out five acres, 10, five to 10 acres a week, moving across 300 acres. And that’ll be like a long term project, but it’s what we do.
0:35:20 – Cal Hardage
Well, before I ask my next question you mentioned earlier about you’ve got good energizers. Tell us what energizers are you using and how are you setting them up so that they function so well?
0:35:34 – Adam Ledvina
So we started out with again with the premier one. It looks from that fencing is simpler to get the premier one fences that go with them. We just outgrew them. I like, I like they had a briefcase style like metal box. You put all your cables in, you pick it up and you can go. I can go up two fencers and I can walk three miles into the timber with these fencers and hook up my fences and everything. But when you outgrow that you know I had 20 goats and I’m clearing out an acre over the course of a week. That’s. That’s not who I am anymore. Sometimes it is.
But I had to up my systems and I’m running speed writes I6000, speed right I3000, bigger stuff and you’ve got like a big old car battery now and a dolly system and these much bigger pieces. But also are we’re just every year you get more and more professional with it. Like we’ve got equipment that can drive into, like I’ve got a four wheeler and a ranger and a skid loader and I’ve got all this stuff now that I can give a better, a better product to my, to my customers, to my clients, so I can. Everything’s a little bit nicer than it used to be, more efficient than it used to be. But you can do it with less Like I definitely.
Yeah, back in the day, was getting by doing it just fine with a lot less equipment and it would, yeah, it’d be fine. But yeah, I like, I like speed write 1000, 6000. I always say the best you can afford and that goes for different concepts in life, but especially with the fencers. By the best thing you can afford but I mean breeding stock, equipment, everything is by the best you can afford and go. I used to be cheap on things and I just, yeah, I’ve paid the price. You get what you pay for that. I hear that echoing in my the back of my head every day. You get what you pay for.
0:37:13 – Cal Hardage
And one thing you mentioned you mow a path before you put down the netting. Are you just doing that with a tractor and brush hog?
0:37:20 – Adam Ledvina
Back in the day like I had a chain saw. I just flip the chain saw and the side use it like a sickle and cut a path and I’m hunched over walking cut in the sickle path because it’s one piece of equipment. It chains out 20 inch bar. It’ll get the job done, especially when you’re cleaning. You know quarter, quarter acre, half acre. You could do that on those small jobs. But then I upgraded to a chest harness brush cutter. Big steel I don’t know what the number is, but heavy duty steel chest harness brush cutter and that’s great. But every time you swing your body you’re taking six inches at a time. Every six inches you’re swinging. You become a great dancer doing that. But cleaning sixes at a time takes a while too, and there’s still places I use that on steep inclines. But now, well then I overstepped.
I went into a skid loader with a mower on front. I mean you’re talking thousands of dollars for this kind of stuff and then I can clear out a lot. I can clear out a wide path. It’s great, except for I can’t clear the areas I need to clear, because if you can clear it with a machine, a lot of people are already doing that. So those steep areas that I go to. They require something in between.
So I, just too long ago, I ended up getting a DR trimmer, a DR. There’s a couple of different styles. I say DR trimmer, there’s the weed whip type and that’s for a grass. We don’t use that. We’ve got a DR walk behind rotary mower, just like what you’d have on the back of a tractor or the front of a skid loader. It’s a self-propelled, you walk behind it. It’s just a super duty push lawn mower on steroids and it just chops up everything within a certain degree a couple inches of a tree, a brush. That’s been my baby. I take that on every job now, even if I don’t need to use it. I take that because a lot of times you don’t think you’ll need it. But yeah, use that DR brush, cutter, mow the path and then set up the electric mitt and then release the goats.
0:39:07 – Cal Hardage
No, very good, Very good. I didn’t even think about a DR trimmer cutter like that. Years ago we had a DR trimmer but we just had to string in it so it was just for grass. But yeah, that thing would I assume. With the proper blade on it and power it could do some damage.
0:39:26 – Adam Ledvina
It’s a lot more labor. I only knew labor in the beginning, and now I’m learning to work smarter and not harder.
0:39:32 – Cal Hardage
Yeah, it doesn’t hurt. Of course you know we’re all broke in the beginning, so that labor is what we can afford. Now one thing we’ve talked more about your logistics of moving goats, your goat-scaping, but we really haven’t covered too much other than the moves on your management of your goats, I think on your website you say you’re breeding for production performance and low maintenance. Tell us how you’re doing that.
0:40:00 – Adam Ledvina
Yes, and so one of the biggest things that comes with production performance and always moving forward is your coal factor. You’ve got to coal the problem animals, and a lot of people have problems with that because it’s my favorite. I like this one. It has some type of sentimental value and we always did. I mean, there’s always those animals, especially in the beginning, when you’re starting out. You have memories, you have a motion attached to those animals and you always do to some degree. But, like, the longer you do it, the more you realize hey, I’ve had this doe. She has gone three years without having a kid, or she had a single and she was a pain in the butt, and I have model kids, or she’s got bad udder. There’s all these issues that come out of it. And even if she can still raise a kid, you start looking at oh well, I’m trimming her hooves all the time, I’m deworming her all the time. There’s all these issues. You’ve got to call those issues or you’re never going to move forward in the next generation and it takes years to get to that. Next, you don’t know your mistake on a kid for like three to four years because you might not breed that first year, so you wait until they’re two. Then they have their first set of kids and then they’re still growing to about four. Their long bones continue to grow to four. So then at four years you see what those kids look like and then you don’t know how that kid’s going to perform for another four years. So you’re really reaching out, seeing what the future is going to be and you don’t want to make a mistake early and if you know you’re making a mistake you really kick yourself later, like I knew. I shouldn’t have kept that one because that doe XYZ. Same thing with cattle herd. I mean you just got to learn to call and I talked about earlier like problem animals that get out like jumpers. We don’t have goats that jump.
Jumping goats typically are the novelty breeds, the small, like I say, novelty breeds. I don’t know when anybody else uses that term, but Nigerian dwarves, your pygmies, your fainters, they’re fun, petsy, they’re. I mean they’re fine. That’s great if that’s what you’re doing, but like for production performance, like they’re, they’re a novelty item. They don’t grow very fast, they’re not going to be in the meat industry doing that, but so those breeds tend to jump. Small goats tend to jump. And then if you have a jumper, you call it, and now you don’t have jumping goats and we don’t have goats that jump. Same thing with heads sticking heads in fences or testing fences.
If anybody is causing problems, they’re going to genetically push that into their kids and then everyone else is going to notice what they’re doing. So you see a problem, get rid of it right off the bat and move on. And it sounds cold like to just say call it, call it, call it, and I maybe have gotten that way over the time, but that’s what makes you a high quality breeding operation or high quality farm. That’s going to push into the next, push it forward and try to be profitable and make it better. You just call every year and we for five years we called 50% of the herd like our good dose. I’ve spent $2,000 on those. Before that I ended up having to call because she just not enough, and so I call it, and then the next generation is that much better. And so for five years calling 50% of the herd. Then we’re to the point where we don’t only need to call anything anymore, but we still do. And by pushing that and pushing it and pushing it and calling, even if we don’t have to, your number would go up.
Our goal is always to hit that 200% kidding rate. A lot of people with goats or sheep they say 125%, 150%. They’re happy with that. But everyone always wants twins. If you can get twins like you don’t have to bottle feed, you don’t have to get in there and be hands on If you can get twins, you’re going to be happy with it. So we had twins. We called for five years. We called 50%. For five years we had an average of 200 kids per acre or 200 kids per doe and I was happy with that and we still call the bottom portion. I don’t even know what percentage after that, but we called the bottom portion.
Next year we had 235% kidding rate. Next year 265% kidding rate. This year we had a 2.94 kidding rate, 2.94 kidding rate on the, on all of our does that we’ve been breeding up over the years and we’re almost having triplets on average. We had some that have fours and fives and and those does that can raise. Those kids are great.
A lot of people say, oh, I don’t want triplets or I don’t want more than more than twins, because there’s only two teats and those does can’t handle it and a lot of those can’t and again those get cold. But when I have a doe that has quints, she has five kids and she raises them all the way to weaning and she’s weaning her weight in kids and there have been no problem. They look small when they wean. They’re going to be smaller because they’re out of the much to them. But if that mama has raised her weight in kids, then those five kids and then a year from now you can’t tell it. It’s between a five year old and sorry, a quint versus a twin. You know all of them look the same after about a year’s time and if I can get good growth on multiples, I’ll better.
0:44:38 – Cal Hardage
Exactly yeah, because you’re getting more, those income producing units are raising more sellable units. I fully agree with the Koleen. I have not carried it to the to the area you’ve gone to and well, to be honest, I’m selling some cows this week and one of them’s a pet. My wife’s like you’re selling her. She didn’t have a calf. I’m sorry, she has a job. You know we could say she’s got one job and she didn’t perform it, so someone’s got to pay her grass bill. But that’s impressive, those numbers on your kidding percents, because I’ve never even gotten a realm of that with the goats I’ve had. So I’m very impressed with those numbers. Sure.
0:45:24 – Adam Ledvina
And, like I said, it takes a lot of courage or guts to get there because you’re calling some of your favorites and just having to do that it hurts, it’s hard. It’s that emotional connection that we have to our livestock as farmers, as grazers, like we. We love our animals, we, it’s our lifestyle, we, we build that bond over the years with them. And I, I had a dough that was 14 years old and she had triplets. She kept having triplets and I said she’s probably earned her retirement because you know, after 14 years what more can you expect? And I’m like, if she doesn’t have kids or has a single, she’s probably earned her retirement.
And she must have heard me say that, because it was that winter we lost her. She just died of natural causes that year and she must have heard like, oh, I don’t want to disappoint, I just want to stay strong. So she had four, she had triplets up until the day she died. I mean, yeah, but like you know, see, I remember those, like I have the, that emotional connection to a lot of those animals and I can tell you, memory is from, from every animal. And also you have to, kind of, if you’re going to move forward, you gotta, you gotta call.
0:46:21 – Cal Hardage
Before we move on to the overgrazing section, I’ve got two more questions for you about your challenges and your goals for the future. So, first off, just what have been some challenges on your journey that you’ve came across?
0:46:35 – Adam Ledvina
I mean, labor is always going to be that high challenge for me. I’m a one-man operation a lot of the degree. I do have help here and there. My dad’s been amazing help, but he also he’s got a full-time job. He’s doing this on, you know, nights and weekends with me and and filling in where he can and he does. He gives more than he needs to, that’s for sure. And this year I actually have my first. I’ve got a high school intern who is learning the ropes and you know his verbal resume he gave me was well, I did square bales with my grandpa. You find a kid these days that’s ridden a rack and done square bales. That kid’s hired on the farm. You know he’s been here this summer and he’s been great. He’s only 15th. I didn’t have a license yet.
0:47:19 – Cal Hardage
And he’s 15th, so he’s got a few more years of high school. You can get a few more summers out of him.
0:47:25 – Adam Ledvina
That’s exactly and I try to. You know it’s an internship, a mentorship type of thing. So I tell him, like you know, if I was in high school I’d try to work a little bit in customer service, maybe be a waiter, and maybe I’d do some welding the next summer and then I’d be an auto mechanic the next summer. Just build those skills and this and that. And as I’m saying all that, he’s like Adam, I do all those things here. Like you’re giving me the best general jack-of-all-trades type of type of job I could possibly have. So I want to keep working here if I can. I’m like you know he’s got a good point. We’ll just keep doing that.
0:47:54 – Cal Hardage
And, as you look forward to the future, what are some of your goals for the next few years?
0:47:59 – Adam Ledvina
I mean, I’m pretty happy with the operations gotten. Like the animals they take care of themselves, they produce the numbers of there. The culling I mean I’m still going to cull to the degree that I need to, but like there’s no low production animals anymore, the low production animals are higher production than most farms out there. So like that I’m happy with that. I’m happy with that. I’ve got plenty of business on the ghostgaping side. The meats I’ve got buyers calling me to get. I don’t have to find markets anymore because buyers find me. They know that I’m a pretty large-scale holistic meat-eating operation. They know where to find me Somehow. I mean I don’t only do much advertising. I’ve got a Facebook page but like they have been fine on all those avenues. So now I’m just kind of focused on paying it forward and like I do talks around the Midwest to some degree, like especially in the winters, but I do talks here and there and just kind of tell my story, say how we got to where we’re going. Not sure exactly where we’re going, but we’re going somewhere.
It’s been quite the wild ride by just teaching people that there’s other options for in agriculture. It’s not just corn soybeans, it’s not just cattle on a feedlot, it’s not just herbicide. You got to spray everything herbicide and there’s other options out there and just helping new producers get started. I’ve got people that buy goats for me and no one’s really a customer, they’re more of a client, like we stay in touch. They call back plenty of times throughout the year and usually end up either buy a buck, they come buy another buck the next, whenever they need another one in a couple of years, and this kid I’ve got this intern, like just teaching the next generation, paying it forward and helping other people get started. I wake up every day excited, happy to see what we’re going to do today and see where the path goes.
And yeah, I’m very, very happy with my job. Yeah, I want to show people that you can do whatever you want. You just put your mind to it and decide that I’m going to do this. This job didn’t exist. When I was in college I didn’t know this is where I was going. I didn’t know you could make up your own job. I thought you had to go get a job, use that degree, go get a job and whatever, and you stick to that job till you retire and I retired by the time I was 30 to do my dream job, and I mean it’s still a lot of work, but I love it.
0:50:14 – Cal Hardage
That is wonderful, wonderful and playing it forward. That is Adam. It’s time we transition to our overgrazing section, where we take a little bit deeper dive into one of your practices, and I believe today we’re going to talk about virtual fencing.
0:50:29 – Adam Ledvina
It’s a new concept and I’m very excited to see where it’s headed.
0:50:33 – Cal Hardage
So what are you using for virtual fencing? How long have you been using?
0:50:38 – Adam Ledvina
So I got hooked up with my virtual fence company called NoFence in Norway. We were both speaking at a conference this past winter, but the winter before it’s about 18 months ago. They were. They talked about the virtual fence system and how it works and then I gave my talk on escaping. It all kind of goes together for me, but they were at my talk, I went to their talk, we met up afterwards. They ended up stopping by the farm. They’re going, they’re taking a plane out of Chicago. So they stopped by my farm on the way by and checked things out. We kind of had that connection and asked me to be one of the pilot, do a pilot project with them. And I’ve got a number of virtual fence callers and we’re seeing how it works and I am pretty, pretty satisfied so far. Like I said, I haven’t had it for like years but I don’t think it hasn’t been around for years. So we’re kind of learning as we go. And the company I’m using is again called NoFence. Just all one word Hello fence, nofence, norway.
And it looks like a cowbell hanging under goat’s head. They’ve got them for cattle. They’ve got them for goats and sheep. Goats and sheep are the same deal. The cattle one’s a little bit bigger Again, looks like a cowbell, the top two sides like an eight frame. The top two sides are solar panels and the bottom is a battery packet, snaps in and stays charged. Pretty well, when you get them in the mail you plug them in, you charge them, charge them up to 100% and then, once I put them on the animals, they basically float between 50 and 80% every day. As the sun goes down. The days get longer and shorter, it fluctuates, but I haven’t had to like pull one off of a goat and recharge it since I’ve been using it full stream. That’ll probably happen at some point, but it just depends on what you’re using it and how it works. That collar is on the neck and there’s a chain that goes along the neck from the bell I call the bell. So that chain is a conductor of electricity. And then at the top you’ve got a rubber strap. So if they happen to get caught on a tree or a branch or a fence or something, that that tarot, that rubber taro way, can release the animal, release the collar from the animal and it’s not going to be a hindrance to their health. So if they walk, you draw a polygon. If you’re a GIS, you just kind of draw a shape file, a polygon around an area that you want to keep them in, and you just draw that on your phone. Just a dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, three, three dots is all you need to make a triangle. And we just kind of make that polygon around your area as the animal is. The animals then stay inside of that polygon.
As they approach the line, the barrier, the boundary, they get an audible sound. It just kind of starts lowest, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, and it’s kind of like a dog whistle. It gets higher pitched and you know their ears go back. They don’t like that sound and that collar is in front of them, it’s hanging off their neck, so it’s in front of them, so they’re like they usually back step, they, they don’t, they don’t take regular to learn it. So the audible sound, they back step.
If they continue to walk forward instead of back, they will cross that line and they’ll receive an electric pulse. It’s not super, super hot Like. It’s like an electric fence, I mean, it’s technically a little bit less than that, but enough to get the point across. And if they learn that that audible sound means they’re going to get zapped, they’re going to go backward. So if they do cross that line and get zapped, it resets and then it does it again. So your line is more of an area.
They, if they get zapped, they continue to go forward. It goes ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, zap. And then, if they get zapped a second time, they’ll do one more time and it goes ding, ding, ding, zap. And if they haven’t turned around by now, it’ll send me a notification saying hey, a goat that escaped and now I’m. You know, I basically pull up my phone and I look to see where they’re at. Typically, if that ever happened, it was going back in before I even pulled out my phone. It’s back in where it was. But you know, electric pulses and escapes would notify me. You don’t want to be notified every time there’s an audible sound, because that’s that’s how they learn to.
The fence is. They’re always going to get an audible sound. So, um, it’s supposed to take about two to three weeks to train. Mine took like three to four days, so it was pretty effective in training I you set up a true fence. Basically you have a, say, a square paddock, and then halfway through your paddock you draw your virtual line and they see the other side. They know they can get over there, so they walk towards it. Well, they get the audible sound and then the zap, then they learn that system inside of a safe space to learn. And then after three weeks you turn them out to pasture. And after three, four days I saw it was working. So I turned them out and haven’t had an issue since they’re pretty adverse to getting shocked.
0:55:17 – Cal Hardage
So how big of an area are you giving goats and how accurate is that line?
0:55:22 – Adam Ledvina
I don’t know how big you can do it. I think you can have like 35 or 37 dots to make the boundary, which is a lot. I mean, typically it’s a square or, you know, a polygon within 30 dots is pretty, pretty big. And then there is I think it’s like 150 hectares, it’s still in hectares and that would be like 200. It’s over a hundred acres. So you’re not going to, you’re not going to outgrow it. Yeah, so I’ll condense them down to like a quarter acre, half acre, full acre. Just depends on what I’m trying to track, how many I’m trying to keep in. And the nice thing, what I really like about it, is just the trackability of it. Like it’s alive. You got a live feed of where your animal’s at, and so I’ve got one of those and every one of the goats that I have collared.
It’s got a SIM card in it. It’s basically a cell phone connection. It’s cell phone technology and satellite technology kind of a combination, because where you don’t have cell phone reception it still works from the satellites. Like I again I talked about being a Bohemia Alps, these deep, deep hills, deep valleys, I’ll have the animals in there and I don’t get, I can’t make a phone call down there but the goats are still staying in, which to me proves that it’s a working system. So if they cross the line, the satellite is still controlling them, but I might not get a notification that they escape until they get to cell service Again. That hasn’t happened, but if it, if it would like you know, it might be a 20 minute delay before it says hey, you’ve got a goat that walked out of her boundary. If I’m in those areas, but nine times out of 10, you’re in cell phone reception, you’re getting notified right away and I’m sure that’s. You know that’s changing as we speak to. They might have right, have better control on that. But yeah, the tracking feature is really nice.
I can see where they’re at, but also it gives me analysis on, basically gives me a heat signature map. So a green, a green blob is where they spend a little time, yellow is a little bit more, reds a lot. So I can see where they hang out, where they sleep, where they like typically congregate my water by the mineral. I can see if they’re targeting, like for me, what’s a goat? They’re targeting the thistle, they’re targeting the poison ivy patches, all that kind of stuff with cattle would be more hanging up by the grasses or under a shade tree and then, like what was really nice, this year, during Christmas Eve, we had a big, major snow storm that came through and I’m, of course, super nervous about my animals.
Like did they? Because I don’t. I don’t do shelters, they don’t have barns or anything, they’re just out on pasture, and so, christmas time, big blizzard. I’m looking at my phone, checking my app, to see, yep, they’re still moving around there. Nobody froze, nobody is hurting. They’re making their way towards the hay piles. They’re eating the hay. They’re making their way towards the water systems. They’re drinking their water. Everybody’s healthy. I wouldn’t. I didn’t have to go out there and check my goats and that’s. It’s a huge security feature that I’m almost like a. I didn’t expect that part. I expected the fencing part to be cool, and turns out that the security of seeing my animals any moment of the day is really nice.
0:58:17 – Cal Hardage
That sounds very interesting. I find it very fascinating and would love to try it and see how it goes. Now you mentioned you’re doing some, are you thinking this technology will eventually you’ll have every goat with a collar on it, or do you think it’s just a specialized use?
0:58:38 – Adam Ledvina
Yeah, I think, especially when again starting out fresh, if you don’t have a preexisting farm, you can start out with five, 10, 20 collars, but even so, if you have 100, 200 animals, you, if you do price, price analysis between a virtual fence system and a new fence, like a solid fence, the virtual fence systems are going to be cheaper dollar for dollar. There are some places, like you know, long roadside, like legalities, like you probably still want some hard fence. I say I will always have some hard fences, some electric net fences and some virtual fencing. But a lot of people could definitely get away with just using the virtual fence technology and it’ll continually improve every year. Just like you know, cell phones, computers, everything gets better. Solar panels have gotten them way more efficient, but it’ll get better and better over time.
We went from barbed wire fences to electric electric fences. That was a huge step in technology forward. This is, I mean that that’ll be. This massive bump I mean from barbed wire to electric fences is well, from electric fences to to to virtual fences is huge and it is definitely going to be a game changer in especially the, the regenerative agriculture, the rotational raising world, because it’s anybody can put 100 goats out on a wide open pasture and put these collars on, it’s not going to change anything.
But if you’re trying to move them every day and move that wire or, like me, move that electric net fence, put a, put a post in the in the dry ground, because we haven’t had rain in two months and you’re down in Oklahoma, you’re, you’re dry most of the time, right, so moving those, those posts is a lot of work, right, moving those posts is a lot of work. But moving a pin on your phone is so easy. You just keep moving them and it’s going to be a massive game changer and we are right on that breaking point of it. It’s going to be taken off.
1:00:24 – Cal Hardage
One thing when I think about it, that how it could benefit for me. Example, because I still have my off the farm job and I plan my moves for my cattle basically on the available time I have in the evening and, like before we recorded this episode, I went and moved one herd and the other herd I planned on not moving them tonight, so I have them in place and I knew I wasn’t going to get to the goats and sheep. I didn’t plan on moving them tonight because I knew my time was limited. For those people with the off farm job and they’re trying to do these frequent moves, the ability to do it from your phone and to see that the animals are where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve got one property Well, actually it’s property I moved cows on today. I’ve got driveaways to get to it. So as much as I want to do daily moves there, typically I don’t, because of access, getting over there and doing it and a tool like this I could see. You can see the cows or the animals are where they’re supposed to be and you can do that more intensive management that you can’t quite get to if you don’t have enough hours in the day.
1:01:35 – Adam Ledvina
Sure, and then even if you do get an animal that escapes like so you’re talking, just checking them in general. But, aside from checking them and moving them, an animal gets away Like you’ve got to get there, you’ve got to work them to get them pushed in, and I can just grab a pin on my phone, stretch that paddock around that one animal and it’ll stop them from going any further. It’ll push my other herd towards them and so they can all meet up and then they move as a herd. Better, which? I’ve got a border collie and she’s my number one tool and I love having her. But like I can basically have border collie on my phone moving on with that poly gone around too, but when I, when I have an issue like that border collie does everything and now even making her job a little easier.
1:02:18 – Cal Hardage
Very interesting, adam. It’s time we go ahead and transition to our famous four same four questions we ask of all of our guests and yes, I stole that off the bigger pockets podcast, just don’t tell them. Our very first question what is your favorite grazing grass related book or resource?
1:02:37 – Adam Ledvina
I graze grass too, but I’m more of a browser like I. Goats eat browse, they don’t necessarily eat the grass. So I’m in a little bit different caliber than your, your, your normal guests or your normal grass grazer. And I’m pretty broad guy. I talked earlier about jack of all trades type, like just don’t focus so much on one thing but big picture. So permaculture, that’s, that’s a good, that’s a good book. Bill Moulson’s permaculture design, permaculture book, that’s that’s a pretty good one. And love Joe Salon stuff too. I mean folks to say normal, that’s a that’s a great book. To learn a general sense of everything. Like I don’t know, I like those broad, broad, big broad guy.
1:03:12 – Cal Hardage
Second question what tool could you not live without? Or what’s your favorite tool on the farm?
1:03:18 – Adam Ledvina
Oh, absolutely that. That’d definitely be the dog. Rosie is my number one, number one tool, my best friend, my sidekick, my she’s my everything and if there’s, I don’t always rely on her for for initial things, like if I I’d like to do things myself and kind of work things myself, she’s almost my emergency backup. But when I need her she is there. I can call her. She’s hopping my she’ll hop a 48 inch fence and jump over that. Come, come, get the goats. And if I’ve got a goat that’s under a brush pile and I can’t get to her, I just send the dog in, she pushes them out and yeah, she is. She is a controlled chaos because when she’s released she goes nuts for him and then once I pull off, she’s, she’s done.
1:03:57 – Cal Hardage
Our third question what would you tell someone just getting started? What advice would you give them?
1:04:03 – Adam Ledvina
Yeah, I’d say, kind of build your market to some degree, but just be confident, don’t be, don’t be afraid to to be that. I don’t know what you want to say that that weird guy I was always the weird guy around here like what’s this, what’s Adam doing? Now he’s got these goats, he’s doing this there. That’ll never work. And so you got a lot of naysayers. Don’t listen to the naysayers. You believe in something to stick with it.
And I mean all those people that are kind of laughing all these little odd things I’m doing. Now they’re kind of thinking, huh, what seemed to work out, I guess. And we’re growing and growing and growing and expanding and it’s just a never ending. I don’t know where the snowball is going to end up, but it just keeps getting bigger and bigger. And now those people who thought I was nuts are calling me and asking me to come work for it, to come do grazing jobs for them, and asking me for advice.
And how can I, how can I do better on my farm? Because you know we’ve always done this whole quote. You know we’ve done it this way. We’ve always done it this way. This is what my dad did, is my grandpa did and it’s, you know, they’re just staying stagnant. And if everyone’s doing the same thing everybody is doing corn, so being cattle if everybody’s staying stagnant, then it’s all going to stay the same place. And if you grow together, you go down together. And if you can just be a little different and do something, you know out some, some crazy idea, run with it, go for it, be confident with it and see what happens. Sometimes you fail, sometimes you make it, but usually those failures are just ways to learn and learn how to do better next time, and eventually you’ll get there.
1:05:29 – Cal Hardage
And our last question where can others find out more about you?
1:05:34 – Adam Ledvina
Yeah, so we’ve got a Facebook page. I will keep a Goats Facebook page and that is, I’d say, that’s, our source for the goats. We used to have a website but Facebook has a lot, a lot of traffic, so we stuck with our Facebook page. I mean, I’ve got my personal Facebook page. I’ve got some more of an Instagram account, but it’s kind of just made that up like a year or two ago and eventually probably end up having a YouTube channel. But I got too many other things going on. I like to like to do things right if I’m going to do them. But yeah, right now I’ve got a Facebook page and I will keep a Goats Facebook page is going to have a lot of. I try to do educational stuff and see what we’re doing, Try showing what we’ve learned, what worked, what didn’t work, and just kind of share it through there. And you Google I will keep a Goats Google me and you’ll find different ways, different other videos that are out there and contact information, cell phone, email everything is out there, Very good.
1:06:25 – Cal Hardage
Adam. Adam really appreciate you coming on and sharing with us today. I’ve enjoyed the conversation, thank you. Thanks for having me. It’s been a pleasure. You’re listening to the Grazing Grass podcast, helping grass farmers, learn from grass farmers, and every episode features a grass farmer and their operation. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode and want to keep the conversation going, visit our community at communitygrazinggrasscom. Don’t forget to follow and subscribe to the Grazing Grass podcast on Facebook, twitter, instagram and YouTube for past and future episodes. We also welcome guests to share about their own grass farming journey. So if you’re interested, felt the form on grazinggrasscom under the be our guest link. Until next time, keep on grazinggrass.