Grandmother-granddaughter pair from Moses Lake run one-of-a-kind goat farm
By RICHARD BYRD
For the Basin Business Journal
MOSES LAKE — There are greats in all kinds of things. Michael Jordan is extensively considered the greatest basketball player ever. Michael Phelps could easily be called the greatest living Olympian. When it comes to the world of raising, selling and showing dairy goats, Sonia Thyssen and her granddaughter Heather Arts may very well be the best there is.
“What we do is much like what the dairy people do. They raise replacement heifers and then sell them to a dairy. That’s what we do here. We don’t sell milk. We don’t make cheese. We raise replacements and we export,” said Thyssen, who is in business with Arts at their farm just outside of Moses Lake.
One thing to be aware of when it comes to Thyssen is that she is not afraid to tout her success. She hasn’t merely exported goats to nearby locations. No, goats raised by Thyssen and Arts have gone to Aruba, the United Kingdom, the Philippines and even Russia. Thyssen and Arts have been aided by an agent based in Pennsylvania, who does all of the marketing of the animals and sets them up with clients.
Another thing to be aware of about Thyssen and Arts? Their goats are winners. The four herd goat farm is used to having grand champions year in and year out.
“We have had the national champion Nubian four times over the last five years,” Thyssen proudly said. “Three times out of the five we have had a reserve champion,” Arts chimed in.
Every goat on the farm follows a strict routine that has proven to be beneficial for not only financial reasons, but for the animals and their well being as well. Thyssen and Arts only feed their goats the best protein-heavy alfalfa hay, which is pricey because it must be imported. One more failsafe that ensures the goats are raised in as safe of an environment as possible? Biosecurity.
“We are very tight here. When someone reads my name they stop, because we stress biosecurity here. Disease-wise. People coming in from other goat dairies are not allowed to go in the pens with our goats. Hay trucks will never come fully up into the farm because their wheels bring in contaminants from other farms,” Thyssen explained. “We have animals that are worth $15,000 apiece. Biosecurity is important here.”
Currently the number of goats on the farm hovers around 150, but that number can be misleading due to the constant sale of goats and the amount of breeding that takes place on the farm. Currently the market for raw goat’s milk isn’t as strong as it could be, but that isn’t to say that Thyssen and Arts aren’t hopeful for the future.
“I think with raw goat’s milk there isn’t a real big push for it yet just because all of the cattle dairies are diminishing,” Arts said. “The goat dairies are making a big resurgence. However, a lot of them don’t have a lot of thought that go into them and don’t pan out.”