Today we made an unannounced visit to dairy goat farm Van Diepen in Heerhugowaard. The owner, Johan, took the time to speak with us and gave us a tour of the lamb section. Johan milks 500 goats. A few years ago he had a specialized stable built for the lambs and consciously chose to also fatten the male lambs (kids) himself. This is because of negative stories about goat fattening.
Lambs are removed from the mother after birth and placed in a pen with a heat lamp. In one pen there are on average 5-6 lambs. The lambs get colostrum twice a day with the bottle (250cc per lamb, each time). After two days, the lambs go to a new group pen and, with the help of Johan, learn to drink independently from a teat. The milk is heated to 42 degrees. As soon as the lambs can drink independently, they go to the largest group pen. There are approximately 25 lambs in these pens. All the pens had dry and clean straw. The lambs also receive solid food from the age of three weeks.
A few days after birth, male lambs get a mark in the ear – this happens without anesthesia. In the case of goats (the female lambs) this happens at the same time as the dehorning under anesthesia and with pain relief. Male lambs (kids) are not dehorned because they are slaughtered after 6-8 weeks.
Because male lambs go to slaughter at a young age, they are often not treated against diseases. Many medicines have a minimum waiting time of 40-50 days (period between treatment and the time of slaughter). Johan would like to see that there will be medicines with a shorter waiting time, or that the regulations are adjusted. That way he can treat the male lambs when they are sick.
We want to thank Johan for his time, transparency and allowing us to take photos.