So, you’ve decided to get a goat. Here is some advice from Kathryn Smith, Certified Herbalist, along with some tips for delicious milk:
A) Goat’s milk contains approximately 50% of the fat content of cow’s milk. In addition, the fatty acid chains in goat’s milk are shorter than the lipids found in cow’s milk, making those fats much easier to assimilate than cow’s milk. So not only does one have half the fat content, but whatever fat is there is less likely (though not completely unlikely) to cause arterial blockage. Goat’s milk also resembles human milk biochemically, making it tolerated by many people who are allergic to cow’s milk.
B) Goats are browsers. Thus, they will be inclined to be nature’s lawnmowers but also to be tree-strippers. Any trees that are valuable to you should be tall and well established before you get a goat. Because the goats will browse the leaves right off those trees, on branches which are low enough to be accessible to the sweet creatures. (“Sweet” because goats do make loyal pets and they are cute, in their own way!) Lawns should be spacious, because you might find that a goat causes your lawn to disappear if it is there for long enough. If you have enough space, the thing to do might be to rotate grazing areas to allow the grass time to recuperate from the previous browsing.
C) Be sure to check with your local city for zoning regulations. Neighbors of ours had a sheep that was taken away from them, due to some pesky neighbors who complained about the incessant baa-ing of the animal. Sad, because I think people deserve to have whatever pets they want on their own private land. But to avoid any possible loss and heartbreak, do check in first. (K. Smith)
I prefer Nubians. They are good milkers, and have a good personality. After determining that you can have a goat, make sure that the goat you purchase has a good milking background, and is free of problems such as mastitis, which will interfere with milk production. It is best to get a veterinarian to examine the goat and draw blood before purchase to determine if the goat is healthy. When you go to the farm to purchase your goat, ask if you can be present while the goat is milked. You will then see if she is a good producer, and if she is easy to handle. My goats Susie and Stevie gave me about a gallon of milk each per day.
One thing that most people do not know about goats is that the milk will taste like what the goat is eating; much more so than cow’s milk. If the goat eats sage, you will have sagey-tasting milk. If the goat is left in a small area and comes in regular contact with her own feces, the milk will taste like…well, you know. Kind of like the taste of store-bought goat’s milk. I never knew goat’s milk could taste so good until I did these things:
1. Make sure the goat has a large enough area to roam so that contact with her own feces is minimal.
2. Supplement her usual diet of weeds and such with leafy alfalfa hay, and don’t forget a corn ration. Molasses is good if you like really sweet milk.
3. Use the following procedure for milking:
- Take a bucket of warm water, and mix in just a little bit of a mild cleanser like Shaklee’s Basic H. Try it on your own skin before trusting it to your goat’s teats. This will be your cleaning solution.
- Take your cleaning solution with you in your stainless steel milking bucket, along with 2 soft cotton cloths, and a bucket of clear, clean water when you milk your goat.
- While your goat is up on the stand enjoying her corn ration, gently clean the teats and entire bag with the cleaning solution. This will take any urine/feces/dirt off. Rinse the teats with clean water, and wipe off gently. Make sure your own hands are clean also. Anything that gets into the milk alters the taste.
- Dump out any cleaning solution left in the bucket, and rinse the bucket out with clean water.
- You are now ready to milk your goat. Fill your bucket and quickly remove any hairs that have fallen into the milk.
- Take the milk into the house and strain it through cheesecloth into a freshly cleaned glass container, and refrigerate immediately.
- When it is nice and cold, take out and enjoy!
Learning how to milk a goat is not difficult. Here is a site that will give you instructions: http://www.wikihow.com/Milk-a-Goat-by-Hand.
The main thing to remember about goats is that their milk will always taste like the things around it. That is why controlling what your goat eats, making sure that contaminants do not enter the milk, and chilling immediately, will result in a milk that you can tailor to your own taste. I like mine on the sweeter side, so I feed the corn ration with a bit of molasses. It is up to you!