Priscilla and Henry Ireys established Critton Creek Farm in 2009 with the goal of building a distinctive herd of high-quality Spanish and Savanna pureblood goats to supply quality breeding goats to commercial farms, as well as for high-quality meat. The farm’s herd of 60 pureblood Spanish goats and high-quality Savanna crosses roam across rolling pastures and woodlands in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, 30 miles south-west of the beautiful town of Berkeley Springs. The goats graze on the wide variety of lush, native grasses, legumes, and briars that make up the pastures on the farm.
In 2011, the Ireys decided to focus on developing a hardy, independent hybrid goat for commercial meat production by strategically mixing three strains of Spanish goats: the Valera, Smoke Ridge, and Weinheimer. “The resulting kid crop demonstrates the benefits of hybrid vigor,” says Priscilla. “The Spanish newborns exceeded our expectations in size, hardiness, and coloration. We also grew our cross-herd by breeding strong Savanna bucks selectively to Spanish and cross-bred does to produce large goats that are highly attractive to commercial breeders.” For 2013, the Ireys have added Myotonic-Savanna does to their core herd of 50 working does, breeding them to Spanish bucks with impressive results: large goats that commercial breeders value highly.
“At Critton Creek Farm, we are committed to the preservation of traditional breeds,” says Priscilla. “We are members of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and have worked with the SVF Foundation to keep these bloodlines alive.” When it comes to how they manage their goats, Priscilla recalls some advice she once was given: “A wonderful old goat man once told me that ‘what most livestock needs is a good dose of leave-me-alone.’ Not that I don't feel we need to care for our livestock, but a decent stocking rate, natural birthing practices, and natural food go a long way to ensuring positive health. The point is that, as breeders, we must select the best animals to breed from. In other words, let our goats do their jobs, while we focus on ours.”
Priscilla explains that they decided to become approved by AWA because they “wanted to be a part of a group of farmers and ranchers that don’t just talk the talk.” She says, “It’s not always easy but we must stand up for the right of our livestock to live a good life. Only by our actions will the public understand the real farm production systems behind the label at the grocers.”
For more information about the farm—and to enquire about purchasing breeding stock—visit www.crittoncreekfarm.com.