Our Farm „Hof Rösebach“ is located in Ifta, a small village next to the Green Belt in the German state of Thuringia. Its name comes from the stream that winds along our pastures and meadows. We acquired the former cowshed in 2016 and converted it for our 350 goats to be able to farm sustainably and according to high animal welfare standards. We are certified by „Bioland“. There is also storage space for storing the feed, as well as the dairy and our residential house.
Topographically we are situated in a valley that opens up to the Werra river, which has its source in the Thuringian Forest. The hillsides are mostly on shell limestone which results in shallow soil depths with a high biodiversity. The region is known for its many species of orchids, like the lady orchid, bee orchid, lady‘s slipper orchid and more. Which animal species would be more suitable for landscape conservation than the endangered breed of the Thuringian Forest Goat? This is how we started in 2002, when Frank dedicated himself to landscape conservation with four Thuringian Forest Goats. The special feeding behaviour of the goats (they prefer bark and leaves) keeps the landscape open and counteracts the scrub encroachment.
Perseverance, commitment and focus on the endangered breed has changed the farm „Hof Rösebach“ and made it into what it is today. After relocating in 2016 we had to give up some of our nature conservation areas, as our goats gained new pastures directly located around the farm. Furthermore, we care for some nature conservation areas, cutting them only on a defined date not to interrupt the seeding of rare plants and grasses.
The goat, also known as the “cow of the small man” has a long tradition in Thuringia. After the war and until the 70s, the goat and its supply of meat and milk was indispensable. There had to be a glass of milk for the children every day. To be able to get good milk from the goat, the animal needs a lot of fresh water, approximately 5-10 litres a day and obviously good feed. In the summer months and in good weather the goats can feed on fresh grass, fragrant herbs, flowers, leaves and bark on our diverse pastures directly around the farm. In the goat shed they get hay and lucerne silage made from our own production on 80 hectares of grassland and arable land. To ensure a balanced and deliberate diet, we buy organic concentrated feed. This can be lucerne or maize pellets, barley or maize grain.
Our goats have a lot of space thanks to our big barn (100 x 30m). They can move around freely, they have a big lying area with straw as bedding material. There is a lot of space to feed, ruminate and sleep. It‘s a good life! Our goats stay with us as long as possible; they only have to leave as a consequence of really old age or disease. Our oldest goats are between 10 and 12 years old. The average age of our herd is around 5 years though with a lot of young goats, as we are expanding our herd.
A highlight but also very work-intensive time of the year is in spring – the kid season. From January to April our goat kids are born. We raise them with the bottle from their first days to ensure that they all receive the nutritious and essential beastings' milk (colostrum). Then the kids learn to feed independently on milk, hay and water divided into groups. As we cannot keep all the kids, some of the animals have to leave early and are raised on other farms or go to the butcher. We sell a small part of the kid directly in the region especially around the time of Eastern.
From the very beginning, we‘ve been sure that we want to manage our farm ecologically and sustainably. The circular concept is the central point. Our goats eat the feed from our own pastures which goes back onto the site in a composted form to ensure a high quality of feed from our pastures.
The water comes from our own well which has drinking water quality and provides for the goats, kids, ourselves and the production in our cheese dairy. The grass on our pastures and meadows grows without artificial irrigation. This is the job of the rain that provides us with more or less enough of an average of 500-700 litre/m² per year.
Our goat‘s milk is manufactured directly in our own cheese dairy and made into milk, yoghurt, cream cheese, soft cheese, and hard cheese. We process our milk in a gentle and careful way. It makes its way from the tank to the dairy unpressurised which is where it gets only pasteurised before further processing. We attach great importance to manual work. The cheese wheels are all filled, turned over, tended, refined and sealed by hand. The love for the art of cheesemaking is an important role in producing a unique product.
As a family with two children, we would not be able to cope with all the work involved in farming, production and marketing without our employees. That is why two employees in the barn and four in the cheese dairy have been supporting us since 2016. They receive more than the usual minimum wage. In addition, we get the support of one or two young people every year who complete their voluntary ecological year with us. I try to create a good atmosphere among the employees and in the company as a whole, because only those who enjoy their work can bring the company forward.