If you are interested in producing your own milk and other dairy products, you may think you need a cow, but a goat might suit you better …
If you grew up consuming cow milk, you may have considered a cow when you decided to start producing your own dairy products. But there are plenty of reasons why goats are a better option for most people in modern society. Goats are easier to handle simply because they are smaller than cows. If you did not grow up on a farm, where you got used to handling cattle, goats will be less intimidating. It can be almost impossible to find a trained milk cow to purchase, but training a goat is not as difficult or as potentially dangerous for the novice as training a cow that has never been milked. It is also less expensive to get started with goats because they do not require the heavy-duty handling equipment needed for safe handling of cattle.
That soft creamy cheese that so many people call “goat cheese” is more correctly called chèvre (pronounced like “shev”), and it is possible to make many types of cheese and other dairy products from goat milk. The first cheese I made was queso blanco, and it was quickly followed by chèvre, yogurt, kefir, and queso fresco. A few months after starting to make cheese, I began to make goat milk soap. Eventually we started making aged cheeses, and for the past few years, we have made 100 percent of the cheese that our family uses, including cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, gouda, Havarti, and more.
Although we were vegetarians when we started our homesteading adventure, today we also eat goat meat and use goat leather. Even our goats’ manure contributes to our homestead, as it is the only fertilizer we use in our garden. It makes a lot of sense to raise goats for milk production for your family because goats are smaller than cows, eat less, poop less, are easier to handle, and produce a more manageable amount of milk. A potential buyer called me a few years ago because after a couple of years with a cow, her family realized that they didn’t need the amount of milk a cow produced. They were not interested in making cheese, so it made no sense for them to have an animal that was producing five gallons of milk a day. Because dairy animals are all herd animals, you always need to have at least two animals, and with goats it is easy to add to your herd, especially when that special kid is born that you just can’t bring yourself to sell. “Just one more goat” doesn’t eat nearly as much as “just one more cow.”
This is an excerpt from Raising Goats Naturally: The Complete Guide to Milk, Meat, and More by Deborah Niemann.
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