George’s Mill Farm in northern Virginia is an eighth-generation seasonal goat dairy that produces cheese, gelato, caramel, soap, fudge from goat milk, and pork.
While the family of Sam Kroiz has been on the land since the 1750’s, Sam and his wife Molly definitely are keeping up with the times. In fact, they’re probably ahead of the times.
They rotate their goats and pigs on about 90 acres of pasture, and have been doing so for a decade using actual physical fences. But since April, they’ve been using solar-powered GPS collars to create virtual fences. It saves time and money, says Molly.
The collars cost $200-$300 dollars per animal compared with $3,000 to $4,000 per acre for a traditional fence. And it means that Sam can update the fence line while drinking his morning coffee, and spend his day on other chores.
Their farm is one of 43 in the US that are part of a pilot program with a Norwegian company called Nofence, which makes the collars. Up til now, they were only available in Europe, where about 60,000 are in use. The many stories on their blog and website show how useful the collars are.
Using satellites that orbit the earth, the collars create a virtual fence that is set by a smartphone app. Goats get an audible warning from their collars if they approach the virtual fence; if they don’t back up, they get a shock. Any time a goat gets zapped or gets outside the boundary, the app sends a notification.
Rotational grazing makes their farming environmentally friendly and makes for healthier animals and cheese that is more interesting and complex flavors, they say.
Beyond keeping the goats healthy, it also helps keep the Chesapeake Bay water healthy, because their manure is spread out widely as an enrichment over the soil.
When animals are kept in confined areas and manure piles up, the rain takes the runoff into Chesapeake Bay, leading to dead zones, and that’s why the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is promoting the collars as part of its work to clean up the bay.
Goats Wearing Solar-Powered GPS Collars Are Helping Clean Up The Chesapeake Bay dcist, Oct. 19, 2023
George’s Mill Farm website.
Cover image: George’s Mill Farm website.