Our small herd of dairy goats is raised as naturally as possible. Like human beings, food for goats is also their medicine, in a very real sense. The right food and minerals will prevent and even treat many so called diseases. We feed organic barley and organic oats (occasionally sprouted, with a dash of apple cider vinegar and /or whey), a handful of black oil sunflower seed, and a dollop of organic, unsulphured blackstrap molasses. Free choice supplements include sundried kelp chips, baking soda, and fertrell minerals, as well as redmond loose salt. It’s very important for goats to have a constant supply of long stemmed roughage (generally hay) in front of them. Goat’s rumens need that mat of fiber and bacteria in order to keep the fermentation process moving along nicely. When they are fed pelleted feed that has been pulverized and heat treated, there is little nutrition left. Any nutritional value from pelleted feed comes from the addition of processed vitamins and minerals, which are generally lacking in bio-availability, meaning, quite simply, the goat isn’t getting adequate nutrition. Again, as in people, whole grains are best.
Aof our goats have access to rotationally grazed pasture and browse. We strongly believe that goats should be given the opportunity if at all possible to behave the way nature intended – like a goat – and that means lots of leafy browse, a little bit of pasture, shade, sunshine, rocks and logs to climb on, good clean, fresh water and of course, other goats for company.
We do feel a bit differently about CAE and about raising babies than many goat people. We feel that the babies should always stay with their dams, unless a doe is obviously showing symptoms of CAE (or has other troubles). It is far too stressful for both the doe and the kids to be separated, and that stress alone can sometimes be the causative factor in positive CAE symptoms cropping up. It is my personal belief that CAE is endemic in the domestic goat population, and though it may be dormant for many many years, if there is enough stress (emotional and or physical) the symptoms or a positive titer appear.
Our milk NEVER tastes like “goat”! It is sweet, fresh and delicious, just ask our customers! Goaty tasting milk is most often milk that is exposed to odors from a buck (they can be very stinky) or the milk hasn’t been cooled quickly enough. Goat milk contains Caprylic acid, that’s the source of the “goaty” taste. In cheese, particularly pasteurized soft cheeses, that “goatie” taste is sought-after, and is part of the wonderful taste of the cheese. But in milk, it’s not so pleasant. Most ultra and high pasteurized milk *will* taste like goat, because it’s been heated.
The girls are milked by hand once a day, and the babies are allowed to be with their mothers all day. In the evening, the kids all sleep nestled up together, and their mothers are given a breather and are in the pen next door. The kids can see and smell and hear and touch them, but they can’t nurse. That way, we get milk in the morning. Everyone is happy! As the kids get older, and need their mother’s milk less and less, we start to milk the does in the evening as well.
We milk directly into a half gallon mason jar fitted with a steel strainer and filter that have both been fully sterilized. Once the milk has been collected, we cap the jar and put it directly into an ice bath for 30 minutes, where it drops from body temperature (approx. 100 degrees) to 42 degrees. Then the bottles are place in the fridge. Our milk stays fresh for at least 10 days.
We breed our does in the fall for spring babies, and are hoping to keep several does going through the winter for a constant source of milk.
Vaccinations, worming and other care protocols
All our goats receive rabies vaccinations annually. Bucklings that will not be retained or sold as herd sires are banded within 48 hours. Babies are allowed to keep their horns and are never disbudded. All of our milkers are tested for Brucellosis, CAE and CL, as well as Johnnes. Hooves are inspected each time the doe is on the milk stand. We trim toes so that there is a 50 degree angle to the hairline, and the bottom of the hoof is flat. Every time the doe is on the stand, we check for cuts and bumps, scrapes and ticks. We also assess their coat for uneveness, and discoloration. Some of the first symptoms of copper deficiency in goats are rough hair coats and discolored (lighter) coats. We give copper boluses 2 x a year, and selenium magnesium 2 x a year, and at kidding. We also use the FAMACHA method of detecting anemia in goats, and thus a heavy wormload. Eyelids should be a healthy pink. We do treat with an herbal wormer that we’ve been very happy with to date.