Fast Chat with Jeff Neher


Kids, kids and more kids

Interview by Kathy Heinrichs Wiest

“Kids, kids and more kids” sums up the life of Jeff Neher of North Oak Community Church, Hays, Kan. Neher’s first set of kids were the congregation’s youth who he has pastored for 16-plus years. Then came six kids, currently ages 1½  to 13, born to Neher and his wife, Jesica. The Nehers’ third crop of kids started with two milking goats in 2013 and grew to 30 boer meat goat does and the 45 kids (i.e. baby goats) they produced this year.

How did you get started with goats?

We were spending about $35 a week on milk. We looked into getting a cow, but goats fit our barn better and they’re more our kids’ size.

Why did you expand it beyond the two milkers?

I wanted our kids to learn how to work and what it takes to run a business. When they win prize money showing their goats at the fair, they reinvest it in more goats. Kaleb (13) and Karli (11) got their first goats from my dad.  As their younger siblings come in to show, they have to give them a goat to get started.

How successful has the business been?

Of course there are disappointments. For instance, the first doe Kaleb bought for $700 didn’t produce any offspring. But both Kaleb and Karli have won top awards at the Kansas State Fair. We sell to local 4-H members who show in our county fair. Last year the top 12 goats in the show came from our farm.

How do you divide the chores?

Karli feeds and milks the two milkers. Kaleb takes care of the hay for the bucks and fills every water bucket on the farm—a goat without water is a dead goat. I feed all the grain. That way I can look them over every day.

What similarities do you see between your various “kids?”

Goats seem to find amazing ways to get themselves in trouble. With people and with goats you always have to watch for signs they’re headed down the wrong path.


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