Bob Throop and Jeff Hill don't understand why, but they've been hit by a rash of kidnappings. And they want the public - and any would-be kidnappers - to know they've notified law enforcement and are beefing up security.
There have been no ransom demands. The FBI hasn't been notified.
Throop and Hill say they aren't even sure they want their kids back.
"It'd really be hard to raise them, now that they're off their mothers," Hill explained earlier this week.
Hill and Throop are partners in a goat-raising enterprise northeast of Lawrence. Since March 1, they estimate they've lost about 25 kids - young goats.
The two are certain the missing kids haven't been attacked and eaten by coyotes, bobcats or other wild critters looking for an easy meal.
"I'd feel better if it were a predator problem," Hill said.
"The four-legged predator," Throop quickly added.
The business partners are fairly certain the only predator stalking their kids is the two-legged variety.
If natural predators were to blame, Hill explained, they'd leave some sort of trail: blood or part of a carcass. It's also likely there'd be more than the youngest goats gone.
"We haven't seen as much as a scrap of hair," Hill said.
Instead, they suspect the animals are being taken and hand-fed while they await slaughter for some sort of religious rite. This time of year, young goats are part of religious meals and celebrations in many parts of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
"Obviously there's a lot of cultures that eat goat," Throop said.
Hill said he suspected someone caught wind of how to make some quick money, found out where there was a goat operation and got busy.
"You figure at 40 to 50 bucks a pop, for those 20-plus kids, that's an easy grand," Hill said.
Both Hill and Throop think their goats have been targeted for some time. Hill said always in the past his goats were targeted for winter births. This marked the first time they've attempted kidding in the spring.
"I thought I was being really smart this year. It was our best kid crop ever; we hardly lost any of the mothers. It was relatively warm ... but we'd have been better off doing it in the winter," he said.
The missing kids have been taken within hours of birth - when the newborns are relatively sedate and don't move. After three days or so, they begin to get their legs and are difficult to corner by a human.
"You walk up to one of them right now, and you'd be hard-pressed to catch one of the buggers," Hill said.
Hill and Throop say the loss of the goats will have ill effects on their operation.
They planted acres of grass for the young goats to eat this year; now they have more grass than goats to eat it. Mothers, especially those giving birth to their second or later litters, have udders filled and no children to feed.
Most important, the newborn would have been the foundation for later herds.
"We'd have been happy to sell the males," Throop said.
The partners have notified the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office about their loss, but there are no firm leads.
Their hope now is that anyone buying a young goat for an upcoming religious celebration or other event be sure they're buying from a reputable source.
Neither Throop nor Hill said they thought an end user was responsible for their missing goats.
"We're after the people who stole them, not the people who received them," Throop said. "We figure our goats are lost. But we'd certainly like to stop this from going on again. We just want to catch the person responsible."
¢ If you have information about the goats' whereabouts, call the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office, (913) 682-5724.