Picking Milking Goats for the Homestead

Picking milking goats for the homestead. Milking goats are easier to care for than cows, eat off the land and need only half or less of the barn space a cow requires.


| September/October 1982


Picking milking goats: A poor man's cow no homestead should be without. (See the goat illustrations in the image gallery.)

Picking Milking Goats for the Homestead

Solomon said, "Thou shalt have goat's milk enough for thy food, for the good of thy household, and for the maintenance of thy maiden" . . . a statement that — besides extolling the beverage-producing attributes of these caprine creatures — goes to show that the generous beasts have been domesticated for a long time! However, a modern goat enthusiast might wish to add to Solomon's wisdom, noting that — over and above its ability to produce healthful dairy products — the "poor man's cow" can be a pretty danged amusing and lovable animal to have around.

Furthermore, the milkers are exceptionally easy keepers, each requiring only half (or less) the barn space that the "competitor" cow needs... and they're able to forage nutrients from particularly barren land if necessary. Sadly goats, are often taken for granted and looked upon as mere "lawn mowers". Yet — like many other animals — if they're treated with care and affection, these lively and temperamental characters can provide any homestead with plenty of milk and cheese . . . plus a great deal of pleasure.

Perhaps this "goat fieldbook" will help you decide which of the common breeds might best serve your family.

French Alpines attain a minimum height of 30 inches and a weight of about 135 pounds. One of the hardiest of all goat breeds, they are very ruggedly built and can be any of an almost endless variety of color combinations. "Alps" will sometimes produce as much as 5,000 pounds of milk per lactation period (37 to 48 weeks long).

Toggenburgs hail originally from the Toggenburg Valley in the Swiss Alps. They're small (about 26 inches and 120 pounds), sturdy, vigorours goats . . . and in spite of their size, the animals can produce 3,500 pounds of milk in a lactation period.

Blessedhomestead
3/4/2014 7:46:23 PM

Ruth, ANY breed of goat can have wonderful tasting milk. Just like, or even better, than cow milk. I once held a blind taste test for several of my Equestrian clients, who swore they'd never drink goat milk, because they heard it was awful. I had three samples of raw goat milk from three different does, raw, whole cow milk and 2% from the store. They ALL picked the goat milk, though they each had their favorite doe. They were shocked to see that they had chosen goat milk over their usual milk choices. Diet plays a huge factor in taste, as does proper nutrition, parasite control, cleanliness and correct handling of the milk after milking. If you get gross goat milk, something is off, or being done wrong. Pasteurization often will make it taste horrid.


Blessedhomestead
3/4/2014 7:23:24 PM

Ruth, ANY goat milk can taste like, or better than, cow milk. I did a blind taste test one year on a bunch of my equestrian clients that swore up and down they'd never drink goats milk because it tasted yucky. I had samples of my raw goat milk, from 3 different does, all raw, raw, whole cow milk, and 2% cow milk from the grocery store. EVERY person chose a goat milk, though they each had their own favorite doe. They were stunned that they liked it better than any of the cow milk. It boils down to the care of the doe and the milk. Proper diet, good parasite control, clean milking practices, and quick cooling of the milk are all very important.


Blessedhomestead
3/4/2014 7:22:36 PM

Ruth, ANY goat milk can taste like, or better than, cow milk. I did a blind taste test one year on a bunch of my equestrian clients that swore up and down they'd never drink goats milk because it tasted yucky. I had samples of my raw goat milk, from 3 different does, all raw, raw, whole cow milk, and 2% cow milk from the grocery store. EVERY person chose a goat milk, though they each had their own favorite doe. They were stunned that they liked it better than any of the cow milk. It boils down to the care of the doe and the milk. Proper diet, good parasite control, clean milking practices, and quick cooling of the milk are all very important.






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