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Clare Lewis and Mike Walker owners of Isle of Man Goats farm

Manx Mohair and Isle of Man Goats was set up by Mike Walker and Clare Lewis in 2012. Both Mike and Clare come from generations of farmers and wanted to return to agriculture after being involved in other industries. Mike grew up on his parents’ busy dairy farm in Derbyshire. Clare spent her childhood helping out on her parents’ farm in Worcestershire where many different crops and animals were raised. Fast forward 35 years and Mike and Clare are now responsible for the care of over 260 goats, the largest commercial herd on the Isle of Man, and indeed their Boer herd is one of the largest in the whole of the British Isles.

All the goats are cared for on a daily basis with a deep commitment to their wellbeing. Each member of the herd is checked every day of the year and at kidding time the expectant mums and the new kids are checked every 2 to 3 hours day AND night. All the breeding goats are known by name and any social or family ties are taken into account when determining which goats will live together. Not only are the physical needs of the herd attended to but also their emotional needs with kids being given ‘play equipment’ including big old tractor tyres to hop on and off. If a goat has a health problem and needs to spend time in the barn then its sister or best friend will come in with it. From daily checking and feeding, hoof trimming and shearing, breeding and kidding, the welfare of the goats is the top priority.

Clare and Mike are also deeply committed to the land they farm some of which has been farmed by the family for over 30 years. No chemicals or artificial fertilisers are used on the land. The farm aims to limit environmental impact as much as possible and the additional hay, straw, oats and barley that the goats require to top up their pasture grazing are all sourced from trusted local farmers.

The objectives of fabulous fleece for luxury yarns and healthy delicious Boer meat are achieved by a marriage of good old fashioned animal husbandry and the best of more modern farming practice. Time is taken to get to know the goats as individuals so any health issues are immediately apparent in subtle changes in the individual animal. The herd is not vaccinated and medications are only used when necessary. The goats are bolused with slow release trace elements and minerals and copper to ensure they get the correct amounts.

The good health of the herd is evident not only from the exceptional quality of the luxury yarns available from Manx Mohair and the delicious meat from Isle of Man Goats, but also in the amount of prizes and Championships awarded to the Ballanorman Herd at the Island’s annual livestock shows.