In early 2009, Michael Kissire purchased 100 Spanish nannies from local ranches to reintroduce meat goats on the B.E. Stallworth Ranch. Michael worked as the Ranch Manager for Mr. Stallworth. Three Syfan billies were purchased through Mackey Lange, Ranch Manager for Tom Syfan. After 2 years, the Syfan billies were sold. Offspring billies from the herd became the new herd sires. As they bred back to the nannies, the Syfan influence was diluted. Early selection showed some preference to black. However, it soon became evident that some good replacements were being overlooked. Despite the early color preference, primary criteria focuses on the needs of the ranch and profitability. The herd has evolved into its own unique goat genetic.
The ranch is located on the edge of the Eldorado Divide in Sutton County in Southwest Texas. The goats survive in rocky pastures on native forage and brush in pastures ranging from 640-1300 acres. They are only fed enough to keep them following a feed sack when it’s time to gather. Wormers and vaccines are not used on the goats, and are not necessary in the climate.
Nannies kid in pastures once a year in a 60-75 day window. Nanny kids are exposed to billies at 7 months of age, and are expected to kid and raise it as a yearling. At the time of marking kids in July, dry nannies are sold. Billy kids that are not good enough quality for breeding are altered. Billies that remain intact are weaned at 3-4 months of age to prevent the inevitable, because aged nannies typically begin cycling 3 months post-partum. Nanny kids are weaned about 5-6 months old depending on weather and available forage for the nursing mothers. Most years produce a weaned kid crop of 130-150%. One exceptional year boasted a 185% weaned kid crop. (Years of predation are an exception to this.) Kids are typically sold soon after weaning in the fall.
A primary trait that these goats are scrutinized for is fertility. Despite a nanny’s conformation, she is no good without a live kid. Other primary selection traits are base width, depth of body, udders, testicle size, and the ability to travel long distances for food and water. Color is not discriminated against when considering quality replacements. However, solid colored bodies are preferred.
In the heart of sheep and goat country, coyotes had once been eradicated. That luxury no longer exists, and predation is a constant battle. Hogs and coyotes are the most detrimental predators in the area. Other predators include eagles, ravens, raccoons, and bobcats. Kidding April through May effectively avoids eagle predation. Predation is fought through Wildlife Services employees, private aerial services, observations in sign and livestock behavior, and diligence on the part of the rancher. Every legal means is used from the ground to the air.
In early 2014 Bill Stallworth sold all of the livestock and leased the ranch to Michael Kissire. Mr. Stallworth passed away in late 2014. Michael continues to own and manage the Middle Valley Spanish Goat herd on this ranch in the same manner. The name Middle Valley is derived from the Middle Valley Prong of the San Saba River that locals commonly reference in Northeast Sutton County.