Why Goat Milk, and Why Raw?
Since dairy cows are ubiquitous here, it might come as a surprise that goats produce 65% of the milk consumed worldwide. Goat milk is actually easier for humans to digest than cow milk and rarely causes symptoms for people who are lactose intolerant or who have allergic reactions to cow milk. We drink it raw for the nutritional and health benefits--there is plenty of evidence, for example, that the consumption of raw milk helps prevent allergies and immunodefficiencies. While it is true that pasteurization kills harmful bacteria, especially in huge factory-style farms, our own small-scale operation is very clean, and in our estimation the benefits far outweigh the risks. And then, of course, there's the taste--the rich creaminess of Nigerian and Saanen milk that is better sampled than described.
Our Dairy Herd
We've been milking Nigerian dwarf goats since purchasing Kleinshire more than a year ago, and currently we have four Nigerian does in milk producing more than enough for our own needs. Our dairy herd is soon to increase dramatically--we also have a Nigerian doeling that we kept from our last kidding season, a Saanen-Nubian-Nigerian mix doeling, and a year-old Alpine doe, all of whom will be bred this coming fall. We also purchased a Saanen doeling who will be bred a little later on. For breeding purposes we have two Nigerian bucks, both of whom have stellar pedigrees, in a separate pen. While our Nigerian does currently yield a little more than a half-gallon per day, that amount is steadily increasing as we transition the herd from alfalfa pellets to a richer goat feed. After next spring's kidding season, we're anticipating that the herd will be consistently producing more than two gallons per day.
Proposed Dairy Products
Our primary product, of course, will be the milk itself. Although the sale of raw milk is illegal in North Carolina, the state legislature is currently considering a law that would legalize purchasing a "share" in an animal. Following a common practice here in N.C., however, we're actually going to circumvent the unfortunate legal situation by selling milk--the same milk we ourselves drink--with the label "for animal consumption only." Our milk share program is tentatively slated to begin after next spring's kidding season whenever the kids are ready to be taken off their mothers, probably
Goat Milk Soap
We are also looking at various products we can make with the milk. One product that provides few logistical hurdles is goat milk soap, which has a great scent and excellent moisturizing properties. We're currently purchasing the various oils, lye, and other ingredients--besides the milk, that is--to make our first batch. There is a months-long curing process, so look for an announcement when the goat milk soap is ready for sale.
For the last year, we've been producing and drinking goat milk kefir. Its production is the result of the fermenting action of a yeast culture known as the kefir "grain" or "crystal." The milk ferments for a day with the kefir grain, transforming into a tangy drink with many healthy probiotic qualities. In short, it's like yogurt, only better tasting and better for you. As our milk yield increases this summer, we are also planning to experiment with a fresh-milk goat cheeses. Since the law requires these types of products to be produced in commercial kitchens, at this point we're sadly not going to be offering them for sale. But do feel free to stop by and sample some some kefir or cheese.
We are currently putting together a mailing list. If you are interested in the milk shares or goat milk soap, please get in contact with us so that we can add your address. In regard to the milk shares, we'll ask potential customers for some sort of commitment next February to establish a waiting list.