Carol Peters spent time in a foster home as a teenager and had the good fortune that it was a diverse farm with dairy cattle, as well as other livestock, gardens, orchards and hay fields. Although she strayed from farming as an adult, when she and her husband bought five acres in central Florida, she returned to those roots by establishing Slow Turtle Farm.
The Peters family started with just six goats, but soon fell in love with the animals and over time the herd has grown to more than 50 Nubian and Alpine goats, breeds that are known for their high-quality milk. Since buying the first six goats, Carol has learned everything she can about raising dairy goats with the highest standards of animal welfare, and now mentors and teaches other goat farmers and would-be goat owners on husbandry practices for dairy goats and herd improvements.
“The most important aspect of my farm is the way each animal is an individual entity,” explains Carol. “They are all loved. They are healthy, they play. Even some of the older does have been seen to kick up their heels and frolic on occasion!” Allowing her animals to perform their natural behaviors outdoors is an important part of their welfare. In order to ensure her goats’ health and provide access to well-managed pastures and forage, she has divided the farm’s five acres into 12 smaller pastures with the help of a National Conservation Grant. Each pasture is planted with a mix of grasses and legumes for optimum forages to keep the goats busy during the day, while fresh, locally-milled grains, choice hay, and fresh water round out their healthy diet. The entire herd is protected by two Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dogs, Kashmir and Bella.
AnimaI Welfare Approved certification means that Slow Turtle Farm’s customers can rest assured that the farm’s dairy products were produced according to the most stringent standards for livestock farmers in North America. “I applied for Animal Welfare Approved certification to let my existing client base and future clients know that the farm conforms to a measurable standard of care for the animals in my stewardship,” says Carol. “Most people that educate themselves on where their food comes from find it important that the source does not just look satisfactory, but that there is a seal of approval that goes beyond the surface.”
Milk from the goats at Slow Turtle Farm is used to produce a range of products which are available direct from the farm by appointment or at local farmers’ markets. To learn more, visit http://www.slowturtlefarm.com or their LocalHarvest page.
All products sold at any market or on the farm are For Animal Use Only per Florida Law. FL Feed Master Permit #1540.