Exotic Animals

Exotic Animals

Host Betsy Freese: When you think of animals on an acreage, you usually think of horses or sheep. Today, we are going to talk about some more exotic animals. We have Dick Heiken, who raises exotic animals on his acreage. Dick, welcome to the show.

Guest Dick Heiken: Thank you.

Betsy: Let’s talk a little first about your Zebu cattle. How did you get interested
in the Zebu cattle?


Dick: Well, we saw a few at an exotic sale. At that time, we became interested.
We liked the looks of them. We liked their size. Everything about them we
appreciate. Not only that, but they started a new registry and association at
that time. We were one of the forerunners of that.

Betsy: You spoke about their size. They are small. How tall are they?

Dick: OK, ours are about 32-38 inches as far as the females. The bull can be a little larger.

Betsy: Where do Zebu cattle originate?
Dick: They came from India originally. They are approximately 3,000 years old.
They have been imported into this country in the last 10-15 years.

Betsy: OK, can you tell me a little about the care and feed of these animals?

Dick: They are quite easy to care for. They do need the grain, salt, and mineral.
In the wintertime, they eat hay and in the summertime, they are out in the pastures.

Betsy: They have that distinguishing hump. Is that typical of the Zebu cattle?

Dick: That is. That is typical of a pure bred Zebu cattle. The bulls have a large
hump and the cows have a smaller one.

Betsy: Dick, where would I buy one of these cattle?

Dick: There is an association that keeps a directory of all owning members on the
internet. They also have exotic auctions and shows that they put on as well.

Betsy: Now, I know you have a lot of exotic animals. Can you tell me a little those?

Dick: We have camels, zebras, Watusi cattle, reindeer, donkeys and the fainting goat.

Betsy: Fainting goat? That sounds fascinating. Can I see some of those?

Dick: We sure can.

Betsy: All right, we have Kathy Heiken. Kathy, welcome to the show.

Kathy: Thank you.

Betsy: Tell me a little bit about the fainting goat. I have to ask. Do they really faint?

Kathy: No, not actually faint. If they are startled, their muscles will stiffen. They fall
over, stay that way for 10-15 seconds, and then they are up and running again.

Betsy: Can you tell me a little bit about the breed?

Kathy: They came to the United States in the late 1800s to Marshall County, Tennessee.
A farm hand showed up one day from Nova Scotia with three does and a buck.
That is where the fainting goats came from.

Betsy: It is a bit of a rare breed then?

Kathy: Yes, it’s very rare. This is the only place anyone has ever known them to be.
Due to their small numbers, they were crossed in the beginning with other breeds of goat.

Betsy: I noticed that there are a lot of different color variations and different types of
hair and wool. Is that typical of the breed?

Kathy: It is because of their small numbers. They were crossed with the many other types
of goats, so you will see short hair, long hair, and the many color variations.
The original fainting goats were black and white. They had a white body with
black neck and shoulders.

Betsy: Do you raise them as pets mostly or do you use them for anything else?

Kathy: We raise them as a minor breed conservation. We are trying to preserve the
fainting goat. There are people who will raise them for meat goats because they
have more muscle for their size than any other type of goat.

Betsy: What kind of feed and shelter are needed for these goats?

Kathy: They need the normal farm type feed. They can have a good quality hay,
pasture and some types of grain. The most important thing thst is vital to
them is a sheep and mineral block.

Betsy: Where could I get some fainting goats?

Kathy: There is an association that has a list of the breeders’ names from all across
United States. There are breeders in every state, so it would be easy to find that out.

Betsy: Sounds like a fun project. Thank you Kathy for being on the show.