Friday, July 1, 2011

Dairy Goats

There's a question that's been churning in my brain for years now.  It's very serious.  A lot of careful thought and consideration is needed.  Actually, it's a pair of questions: DO I or don't I want to commit to dairy animals?  If I do, should we get goats or a cow?  I have decided answer to the first question is yes. (Yes, even though I'm pregnant.  Perhaps I want lactating buddies or something.  Nevermind.)  This next month will help us decide the answer to the latter.  We are goat-sitting for our good friends for a little over a month altogether.  We have in our care two of the cutest little oberhaslis you ever did see.  They are the sweetest things.  Almost like dogs.   These two does are quite affectionate and they love to be around people.  After my brother-in-law milked the first (and hardest) one, today, I milked my very first goat.  See?


The does were super docile and just chomped up their feed while being milked. (By the way, I had to stop myself from saying "nursed" instead of "milked" several times.  Uh...)  Guess how much milk we got from just one of the two milkings today?  This much!



Which translates to this much!


This was only the first day with dairy goats, mind you, but here are some observations made thus far:
  • Listen.  I hate the flavor of store-bought goat's milk.  Barf.  But this milk tastes nothing like it.  No goaty aftertaste at all.  Even my very reluctant husband tried some and said, "Why do we not have goats?  This is amazing."  Whoa.
  • Goat milk doesn't cause mucus production, so my kids could still enjoy raw milk from grass-fed animals even if they're stuffy.
  • Goats are much smaller than cows and (I'd imagine) not as intimidating to milk.
  • The fat molecules in goat's milk are so small, it doesn't separate from the milk and rise to the top, which also means no cream can be yielded. Which also means no butter.  Yikes!  Butter!
  • Fabulously amazing soap can be made with goat milk, something I plan trying out sometime within the month.  Yippee!
  • Goats are lower maintenance than cows.
There are a lot of pluses when it comes to goats.  But the thing is, I love butter.  And buttermilk.  And ice cream.  And cheese.  To have a dairy animal that can't produce cream for butter et cetera is almost too hard to consider.  We'll see what happens this month.  Maybe things will change.  I would so incredibly love to hear from those of you who have raised both dairy cows and goats and what your take is on it all.  Help a sister out, will you?

Time for bed.  Milking comes early, and I can't lie.  Writing that makes this sissy rancher just a little bit giddy.

I'm sharing this at Simple Lives Thursday, Barn Hop, & Farm Girl Friday.

30 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness, Katie. I think you're out of control, but I think it's awesome. : )

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  2. Katie, we love fresh raw goat milk. Tastes nothing like in the store, your right. I would consider having goats if they came with a farm boy. :-) Or girl. I don't know anything about raising goats but they just look cuter than cows. I love what you are doing!

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  3. Peaceful Acres FarmJuly 2, 2011 at 4:07 AM

    Take it from me....GOATS over cows any day!!! I've got both and you're right, a cow is MUCH higher maintenance. But if you have it in you, the by all means get a cow...I'm just, what they call....Over The Hill....and goats fit my lifestyle much better. And besides have you ever held a calf in your arms like a baby goat....I don't think so. Goat milk is actually more nutritious than cows....but then I'm really prejudice towards goats. Can you tell??? ;)

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  4. We've been milking our own goats for over a year now. They have been an awesome intro to the world of home dairying! And yes, real goat's milk is delish! Nothing like store bought!
    While we don't get butter or cream from them (*sob*), I can still make buttermilk, pretty much any cheese I want, and lots and LOTS of ice cream! So, not too limited there.
    Buuuttt... We got a heifer cow this spring and she should freshen this month sometime.
    The reasons we are switching to a cow is #1- we only have barbed wire fencing around our 60 acres. Goat go through it, eat my trees, and then I have murderous thoughts. And, it bugs me to feed them hay in a pen all summer when our grass is 2 feet tall...
    Also reason #2- I need a bit more quanity of milk as I want to start making ALL of our own raw cheese. And, I really would like some cream.
    But, I definitely, definitely recommend goats as a first dairy animal, for all the reasons you stated. Cheaper, easier to maintain, less intimidating, etc! For our first year, finding an alternative source of butter was really no big deal. But be careful, they are definitely the "gateway drug" to a cow later down the road! :)

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  5. I only have one season under my belt,but I agree ,the animals are delightful,and very easy to maintain.You can make butter if you have a cream separator,it adds to the list of chores involved in milking and cleaning up,but to be self sufficient in dairy products is a worthy task:)Unless ,of course ,your strength is spent on other worthy tasks like nurturing little ones,and growing new ones:):):) The ice cream with goat's cream was divine.The milk tends to take on a slightly stronger flavor as the lactation period wanes,usually in the early fall.( but by then you are already accustomed to it) Good Job ! Where did Josh learn to milk? It feels like it's time to pass out some more merit badges or something........remember I was raised by a boy scout :)

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  6. We moved to our homestead the end of January. We got goats in March. The goats are now for sale and I think my husband will be buying a cow. Today. Yikes, but yeah!

    I didn't mind the goat's milk at first, but I am just not loving it now. I strain and chill as quick as I can and it still goes goaty after a day or two. I also want to make butter and more cheeses. I've loved the ice cream and have done yogurt a ton, but the yogurt goes goaty awful quick, too.

    The goat was a gateway for sure. I don't mind the milking at all. We're homebodies anyway, so I'm always here. We'll see...

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  7. Hey Katie...we are thinking about the same dilemma. We are definitely getting another goat only they are pygmies (not much milk). But I came across some information about Miniature Jerseys which looks very inviting. I think they are about 47" (don't quote me on this) at the highest and while they give great milk, it's not as much as a full sized Jersey. Plus I also read in my research that the miniature breeds are actually the original - don't know how true this is. Boy, do I wish you guys were our neighbors! We could do a lot of this stuff together, any plans on moving to PA?

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  8. I wasn't aware about this with goat's milk. We've thought of getting a couple just to eat the poison ivy.
    Thanks for this post. Much appreciated.

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  9. So I completely understand your dilemma. We don't raise any dairy animals (but I sure want to some day) but we get fresh raw goat's milk from a local farm. We love it, I love that it's so nutritious and easy to digest, but we're thinking of switching to cow's milk for several reasons. I make homemade kefir out of the goat's milk, and it just has a stronger taste than cow's milk kefir... Whenever I've tried to get whey from it, it just seems like it smells a lot worse than it should (because of the gamey nature?). I REALLY want fresh cream, and am not willing to invest a bunch of money in a cream separator... For me, I can't make hot cocoa or anything like that with goat's milk, because it tastes gamey once it's heated up. And, there is the fact that goat's milk is just a little more unreliable in taste - some batches taste great, others taste a little goaty... I don't know. Not to mention the fact that fresh cow's milk here is about a third of the cost. So, I think when we're ready to get dairy animals someday, I'm leaning towards a cow...

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  10. Ooh, I can't wait to hear what you think about your cow! It'll be so helpful for us! :)

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  11. Haha! I've heard you're either a goat person or you're not. So you must definitely be a goat person. :) I can totally see why, they are so sweet and easy!

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  12. This is really helpful. We go through 1 quart of milk kefir a day and I've been using raw cow milk from a nearby dairy. I haven't used the goat's milk yet, but I was wondering about the difference in flavor. Thanks for sharing!

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  13. It sounds like it'd be so much fun to be neighbors! I love PA! I've heard of these cows. We were just reading about Dexters, which sound very similar. Looking forward to hearing about what you decide!

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  14. Hahaha! I was kind of wondering about the goats being intro dairy animals. It seems lots of people start out with them and end up getting cows. Thanks for taking the time to share, it's super helpful!

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  15. I grew up going to visit my Amish friends, sometimes for 6 weeks at a time in the summer. :) They had cows for a lot of years and then only goats for milking. My friend got kicked by her cows at least twice while she was pregnant and milking. I remember liking the cows milk to drink and in homemade ice cream and other recipes. I didn't like the goats milk, it was gamey. I was used to it but preferred the cows milk. I took Joe to meet my friends when we had gotten serious. He ate lunch which was made with goats milk in the recipes, excused himself from the table and went outside and hurled! It was quite the first impression. :) I didn't mind the cows bc they were in the barn, but the goats roamed free. I was knee high to a grasshopper and as soon as we went outside to play the goats would run up and butt us with their horns and wouldn't leave us alone. They wanted lots of attention all of the time and it was scary to me bc they were taller than I was and they were aggressive. Just my two cents from a little one's perspective. :) Love your creativity and passion!

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  16. Hi, I just found your site today after hearing about it on the radio..can't wait to start reading up on it. I didn't realize that fresh goat milk would be so different than from the store.
    http://ramblingsofachristianmom.blogspot.com

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  17. HI there! Wow, you heard about this blog on the radio? I'd love to know which station. :) I hope you enjoy it!

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  18. Those are a lot of great arguments in favor of keeping goats...but I'm with you on the butter thing. I think my favorite part of milk is the cream, not to drink straight, but to make into butter, ice cream, whipped cream...Maybe I should get a cow!

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  19. Just wondering what breed of goat you have? Thanks,
    Diane

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  20. I found all of these comments so interesting. Of course you know I like goats. Although I would love cream for all the great reasons. I think for those of you who didn't like goats or say it was gamey it makes me wonder what breed of goats you were drinking from. Every goat is different and there are those that are specific for drinking dairy. Others not so much. And some goats are going to be not so nice and otherers sweet as can be. Sorry you had mean goats try and get you Annie when you were little. No fun. My goats just lick us and follow us around. And then they move on and do their own thing. We have had friends try our milk when they come over and they have all been shocked that they couldn't tell the difference in taste at all.
    I have cooked in tons of recipes and baked with it and could absolutely no difference. And let me tell you. I am a picky taster. :) And Katie, You are awesome. Happy milking. And I like the idea of a small Jersey. Look into that. Way cool.

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  21. You can separate goat cream with a cream separator. The butter will be white, as goats convert all carotenes in their diet to vitamin A. Cheese also will be white. But GOOD! I have kept fresh goat milk for 2 weeks and it did not get "goaty." I have Nubians.

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  22. Great post! So nice to see someone else delving into the goat world!

    I see someone already mentioned the use of a cream separator, but I've actually even heard about making cream/butter without one! I came across this link that shows how: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Modern-Homesteading/1978-07-01/Yes-You-Can-Make-Goat-Butter-Without-a-Separator.aspx

    We are currently goat owners-in-training as we are borrowing a friend's nigerian dwarf to use as a lawnmower. She is the cutest thing. But we are hoping to become full-fledged dairy goaters soon!

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  23. Congrats on your first milking. Keep us updated on what you decide. We have goats, but they aren't very petish. They dont like to come around unless we are feeding them. We've never milked them tough..

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  24. You definitely want goats. It's hard to breed just one cow. Speaking from experience it's a pain to get her with the bull. If you don't want to keep your own buck, they are still easier to transport or resell. As for the milk~you can use goat's milk for buttermilk and cheese and about everything but butter. You can even do butter, but you have to purchase a separator. All things considered, I would certainly recommend the goat over a cow.

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  25. I must say, goats are certainly the way to go. I don't know how people get goaty or gamy taste to the milk. If handled properly it is delicious and won't get a bad taste after just a couple of days (probably poor handling practices). If it has a strong taste right away, it's probably a diet thing. My human is threatening all the birdsfoot trefoil because it makes our milk taste bad, but it is good for us and delicious to eat. Go with a goat!

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  26. Welcome to the world of gourmet milk!

    Did you know that all goat milk doesn't taste the same? All cow milk doesn't taste the same either. Some people prefer the flavor of LaManchas, some people prefer the flavor of Nubians. Some people like Dexter milk, some Guernsey, some Jersey, some Angus, some Holstein. There can even be variations in taste from one individual of a breed and another.

    I started with beef cows, got into dairy goats, then dairy cows and now entering into the world of meat goats. I love my cows and my goats...they are very different. We actually keep a beef cow (Braunvieh) for house milk and are getting into meat goats to reduce (not eliminate) the milking chores and be able to keep my addiction, which is the goats.

    BTW, my goat milk developed a cream line after about 3 days sitting in the fridge. I have LaManchas and now Boer crosses. I never did make butter, it tasted too good drinking it fresh. Even with cow milk, which makes a cream line after 24 hours, I still don't make butter....it tastes too good drinking it fresh.

    Oh, and milking while sitting behind the goat can be a LOT easier on the back and give better control/protection of the milk pail.

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  27. Leslie @ FarmfreshfunJuly 11, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    Hopped over from Homestead Revival and so happy I did!Great blog! We are new to goats and milking but LOVE them for our kids and pet. Ours are exactly like big smart gentle dogs. No horns and bottle raised 4-H projects so they are easy to handle. I love that they can clear brush from under trees but have plans to use only wethers for this is as I've heard diet can effect flavor... Also heard that each goat can be different so you should try the milk before you buy.My hubby and friends agree it tastes great. I looked into the min Jerseys and Dexter cattle. I laugh at the gateway drug as I could see us with cows very soon. Will be back often to see what you do. Thanks for sharing!

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  28. Try supplementing the doe with some vit E complex for a bit...it should help the keeping qualities of the milk. Other things that can affect keeping quality are milk stone in milk pail and or storage jars, chilling in ice water vs fridge or freezer (water chilled milk cools significantly faster) and temperature of the fridge it is stored in...a lot of in and out during the summer can make a fridges surprisingly warm. 34*-38*F is best and in the back of the fridge, not the doors.

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  29. YES! Goat's milk is the WAY TO GO! It's so much healthier for the gut and your well being. The molicules being smaller is a big plus for Lactose intolerant people because it digests WAY easier that cows milk and actually heals the gut. Thanks for sharing Katie!

    ~Hannah
    http://7thundersranch.blogspot.com/

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  30. We are new dairy goat owners as well, and are LOVING our Oberhaslis. You *can* make butter from goat's milk, it would just take a lot to get enough cream, and you'd need a cream separator. But I've been amazed at how much you can use goat's milk for... including delicious ice cream!!

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