Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Goat Milk:
The other white milk

By Daniel Peterson

Georgia Dairy Goat Breeders Association’s
Youth Representative

When most people think of goats, they think of the cute little pygmy goat they saw at the petting zoo or on some farm. What most people don’t know is that there are also dairy goats just the same as there are dairy cows. I live on a small family owned and operated dairy farm in Haddock, Georgia where we raise these fine animals.
I can imagine at this point quite a few people might ask "Who on earth would want to drink goat milk?" Well, this question is fairly simple to answer: more people consume goat milk than they do cow milk. As unbelievable as this may sound, it is true. Most third world countries and quite a few European countries prize goats and goat milk over cow milk. Dairy goats were also often present during the early years of our great country and helped many a settler’s family keep food on the table by supplying them with milk.
Often the dairy goat has been called the "poor man’s cow," because good dairy goats do not cost near as much as good dairy cows do. You can raise more goats on a smaller amount of pasture than you can cows. While it takes an acre for a cow/calf, you can successfully raise six goats on one acre. Cows usually have only one calf per year, while goats have two kids (that’s what you call a young goat) after their second year. Pound for pound a good dairy goat will produce more milk than a cow will. Unlike a cow, a good dairy goat can produce up to 10% of its body weight in milk.
The most common question I get asked is, "What does goat milk taste like?" It is a common misconception that goat milk tastes bad. People believe that it tastes "like a old billy-goat." This is not true. Milk that is properly handled and cared for will not have an off-taste. When folks first taste goat milk they are expecting it to taste different, but to their surprise it tastes just like cow milk. You could not tell a difference between the two types of milk no matter how hard you try.
Goat milk is also a healthier alternative to cow milk. Why? Cow milk has to be homogenized to be more easily digested, which is a process where the fat globules are broken down. However, this is not necessary with goat milk because it is naturally homogenized. Therefore goat milk is much more easily digested than cow milk is.
Goat milk has more of the essential vitamins that we need. Goat milk has 13% more calcium, 25% percent more B6, 47% percent more vitamin A, and 27% more selenium. It also has more chloride, copper, manganese, potassium, and niacin than cow milk. It also produces more silicon and fluorine than any other dairy animal. Silicon and fluorine can help prevent diabetes.
Scientist are not sure why, but people who are lactose intolerant can often drink goat milk without having to worry about side effects. Goat milk does not cause phlegm like cow milk does, so you can drink goat milk even when you have a cold or bad allergy problems.

Friday, September 26, 2014

"Winter is Coming" (or how we get ready on the farm)

"Winter is Coming" is a catchphrase from one of my favorite HBO series: Game of Thrones. (Great show if you haven't seen it I highly recommend it). It is also what we are saying and doing to get ready for our cold weather. Even though it is 85 degrees during the day with blue skies and sunshine....The nights will freeze soon. Here is just a bit of what we are doing to prepare for the winter weather.

Goats and Llama - we are fattening them up for winter by allowing them to eat, eat, eat as much hay and alfalfa as possible. We want them to enter winter with a nice pad of fat - just like me!

Unfortunately, we will be putting our little sick doe Sarah down today as she is frail and won't make it through the winter. This is the most unpleasant and sad tasks of raising animals. I have said that as long as they are not in pain they can live out their lives but she is going to get cold and the other animals in the herd don't cut her any slack. They know when a member is weak, and won't even let her get to the hay or other food. We suspect a chronic case of CAE which she might have contracted from nursing off another doe that we no longer own. (CAE is passed down from animal to animal through mother's milk, and is only harmful to animals, not humans). 
My son Derek will dig a grave, and then put her down humanely, with a gunshot to the back of the head. As much as he loves to shoot guns, this will be extremely difficult and emotional for him. Animals aren't afraid of death and we as their guardians need to be able to dispatch them quickly and humanely if need be. We fed Sarah her last supper of strawberries, oranges, grain and leftover french toast and said our sad goodbyes.

A few days ago we cleaned out the barn and put in two tons of hay, replaced all bedding with new straw, and put the old into a compost bin. We filled up around 50 feed sacks full of already composted bedding to help insulate around the greenhouse, and for use in the beds in the spring. A stock tank heater goes into the water tank to keep it from freezing so the goats always have drinkable water.

The chicken coop gets new bedding, and a heater in the water for the chickens. A light bulb will be set up on a timer in the hen house to keep the hens laying eggs throughout the darker months of winter. Hens need 14 hours of light to produce eggs. 

In the greenhouse, we mulch the plants that we intend to overwinter, and will put a heater in the water tank to keep the water above 45 degrees- that helps the goldfish in there as well as the overall temperature inside the greenhouse. 

In our outdoor goldfish pond, we will put a stock tank heater to keep that water from freezing as well.

Our trailers are getting winterized and closed up until next summer. 
Our water lines to the trailers, landscaped areas, and hose bids are all shut down for the winter. Our vehicles are getting winterized as well - antifreeze in all the vehicles including the tractor. 

We also have a list of all the indoor projects that we need to do, like cleaning and organizing. But then again Game of Thrones might be on.... 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

TEN little known facts about GOATS!

1. Goats are pack animals, and some goats get so close to their lifelong companion that they have been known to die soon after their companion dies.

2. Goats have horizontal slit shaped pupils so they can see almost all the way around to the back of their heads, thus warning them of approaching predators.

3. Goats are intelligent and mischievous and can figure out how to escape from many enclosures. 

4. Goat intelligence carries over into what they choose to eat, esp. if they need a special plant to make themselves feel better. (i.e. tobacco for worms, charcoal for upset tummies).

5. Majority of goats are horned, both male and female - and do not shed their horns like an elk or deer. Their horns act as radiators and help to keep them cool in the hot summer months. Their horns are filled partially with blood and nerves and most goats love to have their horns scratched.

6. Goat milk has smaller fat molecules and is thus much easier to digest than cow's milk.

7. Goat's milk rarely contains more fat than cow's milk. Rather, the butterfat content has to do with the breed of goat, their particular genetic makeup, time of lactation and their diet.

8. Goats will not eat just anything. Sure, if they are starving to death, they may try to eat something odd, like a car tire, but most of the tales of goats eating everything comes from them mouthing things - such as your clothing while you are petting them.

9. Goats have to produce offspring ("kids") in order to produce milk.

10. The term "he's got your goat" refers to the practice of stealing a racing horse's goat companion the night before a race, in order to stress the horse out and throw the race. Goats make wonderful horse companions.