“Legacy Goat’s Mr. Tucket” – Fall, 2011
We own and raise dairy goats because of our goal to raise as much of our own healthy, high-quality food as possible. We milk them, and use the milk for drinking, making yogurt and different cheeses, buttermilk, and we also feed some of it to our feeder hogs and poultry. We register our goats with the American Dairy Goat Association and maintain a CAE-free herd. Right now we have only Nubian dairy goats.
Nubians are a very popular breed for use in home- dairying. Their trademark qualities are their long, pendulous ears, “Roman” (rounded) noses, and somewhat obstinate, yet very sweet and people- oriented, personalities. One of the larger goat breeds, they give milk with a high butterfat content. They enjoy attention from people and are one of the more colorful goat breeds. We have enjoyed breeding for “Flashy” goats, spotted, belted, or otherwise “cool” looking. The first buck we owned, Nut Farm Nubians Cayenne’s Hot, was an irresistible purchase, as he was an adorable baby and I hoped he would pass along his pretty color and spots. His spots showed up strongly in his granddaughter, Chamomile, and she has passed them along to several babies, helping to propagate this trait in our small herd.
Many people believe, and we used to think, that goat milk tastes unpleasant, with a distinct “goaty” flavor. We were expecting to have to adjust to drinking goat milk, thinking it would have, initially to us, an unfamiliar and unpleasant taste or smell. We were motivated to get goats, however, because they are MUCH smaller than the cows we had looked at. Thus, they were not as intimidating to “us green (inexperienced) farmers”.
We have been pleasantly surprised by the consistent “goodness” of the milk. It tastes good, smells good, and has a wonderful texture. Some members of our family still prefer cow’s milk, but others of us actually prefer the goat’s milk. We enjoy drinking the whole goat’s milk, raw, and not having it be as “heavy” as whole, raw cow’s milk. I hope to write more about the benefits of raw milk on our website soon, as well as more about safe handling.
There are some important practices that help keep the milk from our goats (or from our cow) tasting fresh and good. First, we chill our milk in an ice water bath within a few minutes (10 or less) of milking. It is VERY important to get the milk down to a temperature of about 40 degrees within about 30 minutes to ensure the best quality and longest time before the milk develops an off flavor. We also use stringent cleanliness practices. We wash all of our jars and equipment by hand. Second, we make sure our does eat well. We feed them green grass, some grain and alfalfa, good-quality hay, and provide fresh water, and a variety of minerals and supplements. Third, we do not house our bucks anywhere near our does from about 2 weeks before kidding until it is time to re-breed the does (around September – October, typically). Having bucks near the does during milking season will “taint” the milk and give it a very “goaty” smell and taste. Fourth, we have noticed that once the does begin to cycle for breeding in the fall, the milk begins to develop an “off” flavor. It is still suitable for drinking as far as freshness and healthiness, but it does not taste as good. Once the milk taste begins to change, we continue to milk as long as we need milk to make buttermilk for the feeder hogs and poultry. Once the hogs are processed, we dry the does off (by Christmas time at the latest), and they “rest” until the kids start arriving in about late February – March. This is one of the reasons we dry off our does by December. The milking is easier once we aren’t using the milk for ourselves because we don’t have to take such care in our cleanliness procedures. Our goal is to have all of the dairy animals dry during the coldest part of winter; December through early March. This is a welcome reprieve for all of us.
In the early months of the milking season (when the milk is best due to fresh grass consumption by the animals), we freeze milk in quart jars. We have been freezing just enough to be able to make buttermilk and have some to drink and use for cooking. The thawed milk makes beautiful buttermilk and smoothies.
To freeze the milk, I put about 3 cups of milk into a quart jar, leave the lid loose, and put into the freezer, at a tilt. Once frozen, I cap it tightly and put it in date order for use. I do occasionally get a broken jar, but if I keep the amount at 3 cups or a little more, vs 3.5 to 4 cups, it rarely happens. It also helps to prop the jar in a tilted position. We do not consume great quantities of milk by the glass. We hope to get our milk needs mainly met through cheeses, buttermilk, and yogurt, plus a little thawed drinking/smoothy milk in the off season. Once the milk is flowing again in the spring, it is a free for all!
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