This is the fifth blog post in an alphabetically organized introduction to homesteading. It covers considerations for how to raise goats on your homestead, including research strategies, space planning, herd management, the fundamentals of milking goats, pasture development, and making cheese and yogurt.
When starting a farm business, make sure you know your states rules and regulations. You can contact your states Department of Agriculture and/or your county Cooperative Extension Agency for info. Make sure you know what you need to know about the basic safety and maintenance of goats to begin with: What are their needs when it comes to health, shelter, food, etc., and what are concerns such as plant toxins and predators?
Goat rentals are a good way to "value-add" your goat herd, as well as provide additional rotational-grazing space. But, sometimes you run into problems. This blog series about how we started our rotational-grazing goat-rental service wil outline what some of those problems are and how to deal with them.
You've heard of a one-horse town? Well, we are a one-goat micro-dairy! That doesn't mean we only have one goat to milk, but that our milking parlor is set up to take only one goat in at a time for feeding and milking. Here is a story about a little goat kid who wouldn't give up so, how could we?
Rotational grazing can reduce the parasite load of goats, but this is difficult to accomplish with a dairy herd which needs to return to the same location every day for milking. On our homestead, we developed a rotational shelter and management system that allowed us to keep the herd on pasture 24/7 during the warm season. This significantly reduced our reliance on chemical de-wormers and helped us feel better about the quality of our milk and our soils.
Do not let not owning or using a microwave prevent you from making up a batch of mozzarella cheese. Using this easy technique, you can have your mozzarella and ricotta without a microwave. We learned from a trip to the Belton, Texas, MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR and had a blast.
Not many people in our sphere of influence drink goat’s milk, so we have a great opportunity to educate those we come in contact with about the benefits. These are our four main reasons why we drink goat's milk.
Goats tie you down, particularly dairy goats. Even an overnight absence, or a short trip to visit family for the holidays, creates a management problem for the daily needs of your left-behind livestock. By developing working relationships with other goat enthusiasts, you can have your milk and travel, too.
How should you choose good hay for your dairy goats? Hay should be composed of plants goats like to eat, cut and cured properly for best nutritional content and storage life, and free of unwanted chemicals and weed seeds. If you can, buy hay fresh from the field of a trusted source, where you can inspect it and its growing conditions.
Dairy animals such as goats produce milk in a seasonal cycle, requiring homesteaders to handle both an abundance and shortage of milk during the year. Freezing milk directly, and making & preserving cheese, are two ways to ensure a reliable supply of dairy year-round. Allowing your diet to change with the seasons can also reduce the impact of low-milk periods, replacing its nutrition with food crops or meat when milk isn’t convenient to produce.
Kefir culture can be used to start a broad range of dairy ferments. This recipe shows how kefir grains will culture cream into delicious creme fraiche - a tasty, healthy alternative to whipped cream. Part 2 of a series of articles explaining how to use traditional cultures for cheesemaking.
Many garden vegetable crops produce excess leafy material perfect for feeding goats. Using these materials as milking snacks helps reduce the need for purchased grain & hay while recycling these waste products on the homestead.
Where could you start your cheese making journey? Well, why not try something like Feta cheese? With minimal stirring after cutting the curd, and a pressing of only 4 hours, this cheese is an excellent place to start cheese making.
Goats need to be held still in various contexts, including slaughtering, hoof-trimming, and milking. Ideally, the method of restraint should be comfortable/humane, strong, portable, easy to use, and affordable. We’ve developed a homemade goat restraint that fits these categories and has worked for many years.
Who would have thought that making your own cheese at home could be so much fun? I have produced cheese as a hobby regularly since 2009, so I thought it would be practical to share with some valuable tips that I have learned along the way.
White snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) is a potentially toxic plant, particularly for dairy animals as the toxins can be passed through the milk. It caused many human deaths during the age of European settlement in eastern North America, due to dairy animals grazing in brushy areas and woodlands. Modern homesteaders using such landscapes for their goats or other ruminants should learn to identify and remove white snakeroot to ensure the safety of their milk supply.
Homestead dairy goats need proper shelters. Ideally these would be easy to set up and move, while providing all the animals’ needs. A variety of basic shelters can be based on simple, reusable pieces like cattle panels, pop-up tents, and chain-link panels. These structures make pasture-based goat management easier on a budget.
Spring has been slow to arrive in the Green Mountain State. But there are signs of spring in Vermont and that means preparing your Micro-Dairy for the change in seasons. Bob-White Systems' Steve Judge shares more tips to transition a Micro-Dairy into spring.
Springtime means mud season in Vermont. And on a micro-dairy, it also means preparing the cows, fields and barn for the transition to warmer weather. Steve Judge offers tips to prepare for Spring on a micro-dairy in a two-part series.
As farmers, we know the importance of creating a milking environment that is clean and healthy for the animals. In Part 2 of Making Clean Raw Milk, we outline the steps needed to milk your cow or goat in a manner that keeps it clean.
A big benefit of running the private and FDA-certified Bob-White Systems Dairy Lab is that we get to see what works and what doesn't work to keep milk clean. “Clean," for our purposes, means that it passes Vermont's Tier II Raw Milk Standards, which happen to be some of the most stringent in the country — more stringent than federally regulated pasteurized milk standards. At the lab we perform FDA-certified testing to ensure raw milk producers are compliant with Vermont’s standards.
I can hear it now: “What the devil? Angus? They are not milk cows!” Well, it all got started when the neighbor purchased four, what he was led to believe were, Black Angus calves from someone in a valley some distance from us. But the udders on these two cows were huge! They clearly had more milk than the calves could handle.
Finding time to make improvements on a small dairy is difficult but making a few improvements as the seasons change can often make a micro dairy or any size small farm more efficient. Here are 7 steps to help you prepare your barn for the cold winter months.
Cows, goats, sheep, water buffalo, camels and, even, horses have been successfully milked by hand for thousands of years. Though it's an age-old practice, milking a cow by hand is not as easy as it may first appear. It’s best to know what you are getting into before you take on this important farming task.
The flavor and shelf life of the milk you sell directly to consumers are directly impacted by how the milk is produced and handled on your farm. Here are my best practices for handling and producing the highest-quality, most delicious milk on the farm.
Silvopasture is a newfangled word for wooded pasture. Basically, all it means is that you are using wooded land with trees and forage for pasture. The trees can be managed for firewood production and/or saw logs and provide welcome shade and shelter for your livestock and forage.
Your homestead is complete when you get your own cow for milking. But problems such as a cow who holds her milk or who kicks can make milking difficult and even dangerous. Here are some helpful hints so that you can enjoy your cow and enjoy milking her.
Cow manure is a key indicator of bovine health and well being. After milk, it is the most valuable thing your cows will produce. Micro-dairy expert Steve Judge explains why it pays to get comfortable with cow manure.
Dairy goat farmer Julia Shewchuck learned a lot about keeping dairy goats in her first few months (and much more since). It was a learning curve too steep to be repeated willingly, but which has saved many other goats’ lives since.
Steve Judge of Bob-White Systems in Vermont offers his Micro Dairy expertise in this blog series on how to start and manage a Micro Dairy, from farm and barn planning to selecting dairy cows, goats and sheep to daily operations and being profitable.
Bob-White Systems is bringing the cows back home by providing supplies, equipment and support for Micro Dairies, Home & Farmstead cheesemakers and small-scale producers of local and farm fresh dairy products.
Whether you abstain from dairy by choice or you’re lactose intolerant, you probably know how difficult it can be to find really great non-dairy cheese. I’ve taken away some of the guesswork by reviewing some popular brands: Vegan Gourmet, Daiya, Dr-Cow, Chreese and The Vegetarian Express. Read about my dairy-free cheese experiences, and let us know which brands you’re loyal to.