Gelato with Nigerian Dwarf Goat Milk

Episode 18
For the Love of Goats

Gelato with Nigerian Dwarf Goat Milk featured image


If you ever thought about starting a commercial dairy, today’s episode is for you. I am talking to a couple of New Yorkers who moved to Vermont to start a goat dairy selling gelato! 

Michael and Lisa Davis of Sweet Doe Dairy in Vermont talk about their decision to leave corporate jobs to become goat farmers and make gelato. We talk about why they chose Nigerian dwarf goats for their business, even though they are the smallest breed of dairy goat and often overlooked by those who are serious about milk production. Then we really dig into the details on building a dairy, expenses that you might not consider, budgeting, working with state inspectors, and how to move from your own kitchen to a commercial operation.

You can follow Sweet Doe Dairy on Facebook and Instagram

3:20 the decision to start a herd of Nigerian dwarf goats for the dairy

6:22 finances

8:00 growing a herd and selling goats

13:08 unusual expenses of having a dairy (cleaning agents, nutritional info on labeling, daily testing, and more!)

18:29 cost of infrastructure, budgeting, working with state inspectors

26:25 graduating from making personal ice cream in your home kitchen to creating a business selling gelato

30:16 why not sell ice cream or cheese?

34:40 the difference between gelato and ice cream

Want to learn more about goat businesses? Check out Goat Business Ideas: How to Make Money With Your Goats

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Introduction 0:03
For the love of goats! We are talking about everything goat. Whether you’re a goat owner, a breeder, or just a fan of these wonderful creatures, we’ve got you covered. And now, here is Deborah Niemann.

Deborah Niemann 0:17
Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another episode. Today, I am really excited to be talking to Lisa and Michael Davis of Sweet Doe Dairy. And this is really special for me, because I’m one of those people who, a long time ago, wanted to have a dairy. So now I just have a lot of fun when I get the chance to talk to people who actually were braver than I was and jumped in there and did it. So welcome, Lisa and Michael!

Lisa Davis 0:43
Thanks, Deborah. Thanks for having us! We’re actually based in Vermont, but we are former New Yorkers. So, we left our home in New York to start our farm in Vermont. So, we are quasi-Vermonters.

Deborah Niemann 0:55
So that, actually, is a perfect segue into the very first thing that I want to ask you. And that is: How did a couple of New Yorkers wind up with a goat dairy in Vermont?

Lisa Davis 1:08
Well, it was a fairly long journey, but I’ll let Michael tell most of the story because it was really born out of his passion, even though we—it’s one that we share now.

Michael Davis 1:21
Yeah, we were in New York, and I was working in IT. Lisa worked in communications. And, I don’t know, I just got bored with the IT world, doing technology, it didn’t do it for me. So, we started volunteering on a farm, and I learned that I loved working with animals. And I’ve always loved animals; I used to work at a vet when I was a young kid. And, coming from New Orleans, I’ve always been interested in food. In particular, I’ve always loved ice cream—the concept of it, the science behind it. And I used to make test batches all the time, just for fun, for us. And, you know, one day I was bored at work and thought, you know, “Maybe I’ll start a dairy, and we can move and make gelato.” I don’t know if we really thought it was realistic, but we figured we’d give it a shot. I mean, I was pretty much tired of just the day in and day out of a nine-to-five-type technology job, and I wanted something different. And, I wanted to make an impact on people and on the land. And that’s basically how we got here. We visited Vermont, fell in love with it, and decided that this would be the place to try it.

Lisa Davis 2:31
Yeah, and we really wanted to give it a go while we still felt young and physically capable enough to do this kind of work. It takes its toll on your body, for sure. And we felt like if we were going to ever try it, we needed to try it when we were still young enough and strong enough to do it.

Deborah Niemann 2:50
Yeah, that is really good advice. People… I hear so many people say they want to do X when they retire, and it’s like, “Don’t wait until you retire! Do it now!” So…

Lisa Michael 3:00
Yeah. It’s a tough thing. And it requires a lot of… It requires, you know, just a lot of confidence and, you know, just a lot of fortitude and resilience.

Deborah Niemann 3:20
So, what happened next, then? Like, so you found a place in Vermont and bought it. And then you got goats—and this is where our connection comes in, because we both have Nigerian Dwarf goats. And so, I’m always extra excited when people are using Nigerian Dwarfs commercially, because they are such underappreciated dairy animals. So, how did you land on choosing Nigerians for your dairy?

Michael Davis 3:48
It was actually kind of luck. When we started the research, we really were not that familiar with Nigerian Dwarfs. But I knew the milk composition that I wanted in order to create the gelato. And, as we did more research, we were put in contact with a farmer here in Vermont who raised Nigerians on a sizeable scale. And we met with her, and she became a farm mentor; her name was Sharon Peck from Willow Moon Farm. And her Nigerian line is Sugar Moon, which come to find out is very famous around the country. And she was starting to downsize, and she gave us some of the milk to sample and to do testing with, and once we did that, we knew that that was the animal for us. You know, based on other factors, too—the size of the animal, the cost savings versus a large animal. A large goat or even a sheep, it’s much different in cost savings. And they produce a lot of milk for such a small animal. I don’t think people realize that, and they can be used on a commercial scale.

Lisa Davis 5:02
Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you more, Deborah, when you said that they’re probably the most underestimated breed of dairy goat. I think it’s only a matter of time before people wake up to the fact that they are a viable option for commercial dairies and, in many cases, preferable.

Deborah Niemann 5:21
Yeah, I know just in our own kitchen, we love making ice cream with the Nigerian milk. And you know how, like, all of the best homemade ice cream recipes you’ve ever had have whole milk, and then they have added cream? Well, since the Nigerian butterfat is so high, you don’t… It’s like half-and-half already. You don’t need to add cream. It’s like, it’s the all-in-one perfect milk for making ice cream and gelato.

Michael Davis 5:49
Right. That was the goal. We wanted to make it straight with whole milk.

Deborah Niemann 5:54
Yeah, because the thing… Like, people ask if we make our own butter, and that is the one thing that we really don’t make. And, we got a cream separator, and we even did try making it, but I just didn’t really have anything good to do with skim milk. So, I could imagine if you are making—if you have your own cows or goats—and you’re making ice cream on a commercial scale, if your butterfat isn’t already up there, and you have to add cream, then you’ve got a bunch of skim milk that you don’t know what to do with necessarily.

Lisa Davis 6:25

Deborah Niemann 6:26
Let’s talk about the shift you had to make from just being an average goat owner to becoming the owner of a dairy who’s got to have a profit goal, you know; otherwise, you’re not going to stay in business. How did that happen?

Lisa Davis 6:45
It started with doing some basic math of, you know, how much we would need to produce and how much we would need to sell, and doing the best we could to estimate the costs that would go into both the farm side and the creamery side. And, you know, we’ve had realistic expectations. I think if you set an expectation that you’re going to be profitable in Year One of starting a dairy farm, you have a very unrealistic expectation. But you should be looking, you know, three, five, seven years out, and recognizing that, as you grow, you’re not only hopefully going to be growing sales, but if you are succeeding at raising an increasingly high-quality herd, you’re also going to be generating income from your herd, eventually, by being able to market all of the kids that are born on your farm every spring in order to continue your year-round milk supply. So, you have to look at, sort of, when each of the elements of your income are going to sort of start coming into play. For us, we grew our herd almost exclusively, you know, through our own breeding; we started with 16 does and 2 bucks. And our herd is now 100-plus strong, and every other one of those goats was born right here. But, for those first several years, as we were growing and adding numbers to our milk line every year, we were retaining every doe, which means we had very minimal income from does, but this season was the first season that we started to generate income from the sale of our high-quality, milk-producing doelings—or soon to be, you know, eventually milk-producing doelings. And so, you have to just sort of look at your whole chain and when various elements are going to start coming into play as you plan that three, five, seven years out.

Deborah Niemann 9:03
Okay. And I know a lot of people listening think that they could never eat a goat. I know, I was there; I said that, too, many years ago, because they’re just so much like dogs or cats. They’re so personable. But, if you have 100 does, and let’s just say, for easy math, they all have twins—which we know Nigerians have more. You got 50 bucks there. So, do you sell goat meat, too, or do you… What do you do with 50 baby bucks, or how many ever you have?

Michael Davis 9:38
We’re lucky. Every year, we sell them as pets—all of them.

Deborah Niemann 9:41

Lisa Davis 9:42
We do.

Michael Davis 9:53
Except, the select few go as breeding bucks. We sell every single one every year.

Lisa Davis 9:49
And we sell out with a waiting list every year. There’s… We’re fortunate in Vermont that we have a very agriculturally and animal-focused community. There are many families, most of whom aren’t in farming now, but may have come from farming families, that really see the value—especially young families with young children—in giving their children the experience of what it’s like to raise livestock. And Nigerians make perfect pets. And we also have a lot of land in Vermont that people want cleared, and so they use them to clear areas of their property that are overgrown in brush. And, like Michael said, we’re fortunate in that we actually have no trouble selling all of our males each spring, and they almost exclusively go as pets. Occasionally, when a goat ages out of our herd, we’ll cull it for meat for ourselves. But we don’t really sell goat meat, primarily because raising the males would take too much time, and they’re relatively small, so the yield of meat to us is almost not worth the time and expense of getting them to a size that would make sense for using for meat, unless it’s one that we’re culling out of our herd and is already full-grown, in which case we never let an animal go to waste.

Michael Davis 11:18
Nigerians are very desirable as pets, so they’re very easy to get rid of, unlike other animals.

Lisa Davis 11:25
Yeah, I find around us—I don’t know how it is for you in Illinois, Deborah—but for us in Vermont, we’re fortunate that way, in that there is a very desirable, healthy market for Nigerians.

Deborah Niemann 11:38
Yeah, the kids sell slower than they used to, because I’ve been raising them since 2002. And 10 years ago, I had a waiting list a year and a half, two years long, because there weren’t that many. But as they’ve gotten more popular, you know, especially for the pets. The pets can be… The pets can take longer to sell sometimes now, because so many people have pets and think, “Oh, I’m going to breed them.” And so, it’s not quite as easy as it used to be. They sell just not as fast.

Lisa Davis 12:10
Yeah. I mean, I wouldn’t have… difficulty. Like, I don’t… Some people—it’s funny—some farmers really don’t feel comfortable with their animals going for meat, even if they’re, you know, their wethers—their castrated males from their spring kidding. And I see a lot of people who are advertising their availability, and they put limits on it and say, you know, “These are not for meat consumption.” And that’s a personal choice. But for us, like, I have no problem. If somebody really wants to purchase our animals and intends to raise them for meat, to me, that is a perfectly viable use of the animal, and I have no problem with that at all. It’s just that we’ve never really been in the position to need to do that, because we have such a strong market for pets.

Deborah Niemann 13:08
There are a lot of expenses involved in having a dairy that are nothing like if you just have some pet goats, or family milkers, or whatever. Some of the things that we talked about earlier, before we started recording, are things… Like, most people would never think about all the expenses involved in things like regularly testing your milk, or testing your product, labeling nutritional info on your packages, all that kind of stuff. Can you talk a little bit about some of the more unusual expenses that people are going to face if they start a dairy?

Michael Davis 13:41
You have expenses on both sides. So, you have them on the farm side, and then you have them on the processing side, the plant side. So, on the farm side, you know, if you’re milking a goat or two for yourself, that’s one thing, but if you’re going to do it as a commercial business, then the state requires certain cleaning protocols to be in place. And it’s gonna be cleaning agents, acid washes, and things that you probably were not aware of that you’ll have to acquire and use those after every milking. So, if you’re milking twice a day, those expenses add up pretty quick on the cleaning agents. And that’s probably the biggest thing on the farm side.

Lisa Davis 14:25
Aside from, of course, your veterinarian care expenses…

Michael Davis 14:28
But, as far as unusual, I think that’s things people don’t plan on—or even paper towels, you know, when you’re dipping the goats. Once you get up to milking 30 goats, you go through quite a few paper towels, you go through quite a bit of iodine dip. You know, a bottle doesn’t last you as long as it used to; now you’re buying 5-gallon jugs and going through them every month. So, those supplies do add up quickly, the cleaning supplies, and a lot of people don’t realize the amount of cleaning that’s involved in a dairy. Half of your day seems to be cleaning something.

Michael Davis 15:08
And then on the plant side, yeah, the thing—especially… We didn’t understand it. You may have read it in, like, the PMO ordinance. But, you know, with every batch that you make, you have to take samples of that milk, and then you have to test that milk for antibiotics and log all that. Those tests kits are actually very expensive. And they only come through one dealer, so you’re forced to go through them. And they have to ship—

Deborah Niemann 15:36

Michael Davis 15:37
Yes. And they have to ship them overnight.

Deborah Niemann 15:40

Michael Davis 15:41
And you have to use three of those vials that come in that test kit for every batch.

Lisa Davis 15:47
And they have a very short shelf life. So, you cannot, like, bulk order and pay shipping once; you have to continually order, or else the test kits are going to expire before you have a chance to actually utilize them. So, it’s things like that that are really hard to predict and plan for that really add to your daily operational expenses. And then, you know, as you transition over into sales and marketing and distribution, then you have a whole other set of expenses that most people don’t think about. You know, you have the cost of your packaging, and your labeling, and most retailers won’t carry your product without a UPC barcode, and you need to pay an entity every year to maintain your UPC barcodes. And the more barcodes you have, for the more products you have, the more expensive that is. You know, you have to pay a nutritionist to produce your nutrition facts panel that appears on your product packaging. And, of course, you have the expense of the packaging itself, whether you are using, sort of, peel-off, stick-on labels that go onto, in our case, our pint containers, plus the containers themselves. And then, you also have the added costs associated with distribution. For us, because we’re a frozen product, we rely on actual distributors to get our product to market. But those distributors also have requirements. For example, they want you to commit to a particular number of sales promotions in a given year. They may have requirements that you advertise two to three times a year in their product catalog. And so, you know, even outside of your own marketing plan, your partners may have requirements that you need to satisfy that come with associated costs. So it’s… You know, I don’t want to scare people; it’s really impossible to plan for every one of those things. It’s simply to say that you should plan or set aside budget for far more than you anticipate in order to make sure that you’re on solid enough footing.

Deborah Niemann 18:28
Yeah. There’s a dairy here, one of them that I visited when I was thinking I wanted to start a dairy. And they said that their costs practically doubled, because they had assumed that they were gonna do a lot of the construction on their buildings. And once they got started, and the building inspector came out, they discovered that some of the things that they thought they were going to do, by state law, had to be done by licensed contractors.

Lisa and Michael Davis 18:59

Deborah Niemann 19:00
And so—and they were already too far into it financially. They couldn’t back out. And so, they just had to keep going forward and, you know, wound up paying about twice what they were expecting. And we’re talking—we’re into six digits here.

Lisa and Michael Davis 19:13
Yeah! Yeah.

Deborah Niemann 19:15
So, we’re not talking…

Michael Davis 19:16
You definitely want to budget twice whatever you think it is—

Lisa Davis 19:19
At least twice of what you expect.

Michael Davis 19:22
—and it might be more than that. The advice I would give people if they’re starting a dairy, the best advice I could give you, is to contact your state inspector that is gonna be working with you before you do anything. They are all more than happy to sit down with you in your kitchen and go over the requirements of what you’re going to have to do, and they’re willing to come out throughout the process to make sure you’re doing it correctly so you don’t have to rip any of that out and start over. So, that’s the best thing I could offer to anybody. Just contact them. Tell them you’re thinking of starting it and would like to talk to them.

Lisa Davis 20:00
Yes, especially when it comes to infrastructure. They will save you very costly mistakes in the long run. And here in Vermont, we’re very fortunate that the inspectors in the ag. department in our state really are partners to dairy farmers here. You know, you often hear people sort of mention the word “inspector” with a little bit of a cringe. But for us, they’ve been nothing but supportive and there to sort of help us avoid those costly mistakes. And they are there for a reason. They’re there ultimately for the safety of the consumer and the health of you and your animals. And we’re grateful to them for that. So, don’t be afraid of your dairy inspectors. They’re your friends, for sure.

Deborah Niemann 20:54
That’s great advice. Because, that’s just one of the stories I’ve heard. So, a lot of people have had problems where they incurred a really big expense because they didn’t talk to people soon enough in the process. Was there anything that’s surprised you like that?

Michael Davis 21:11
Nothing big, no. Because we did keep in contact with our inspectors. There were a few things that popped up that maybe weren’t discussed but could be added on. Nothing that we did that would have to be reworked.

Lisa Davis 21:24

Michael Davis 21:27
But, you know, there are gonna be things that pop up. Each place is different. And, in order to get that facility up to code, you may not discover it right away. But those are fixable. It’s the big things that you want to avoid. So no, we did not have that issue. Just small, little things that popped up.

Lisa Davis 21:49
Yeah, and I’d say the early conversations… You know, start the early conversations, not just with the inspectors, but go visit other farms, you know, and find out, like, ask them, “What are all the things you wish you knew that you didn’t know when you started? What are all the mistakes you made that you feel were avoidable?” I mean, the most valuable information for us came from other people who had been doing it and learned the hard way. And so, we tried to avoid many of the same mistakes. And, it’s not to say that our journey was perfect by any stretch of the imagination; we have made our fair share of mistakes both on the farm side and on the creamery side. But they are far fewer—I honestly believe they are far fewer—than they would have been had we not consulted with those people as early as we did.

Michael Davis 22:35
And each inspector is gonna be different. But an example, like, with our inspector: They will work with you based on your budget, too. I mean, you have to meet requirements, but there’s different ways to do that. So, like, for us, most people assume you have to buy a bulk tank to cool your milk down. Well, when you have a Nigerian herd, you don’t produce the kind of volume that you can go out and buy 100-gallon bulk tank. You have to buy the micro tanks, and they’re very expensive. But they will give you a workaround, if they’re willing to work with you, that’ll save you thousands of dollars.

Lisa Davis 23:15
Yep, and still meet all the state and federal requirements.

Michael Davis 23:19
Yep, still be up to code. There’s different ways to do things, and your inspector knows this. So, it’s worth talking to them often, and letting them know, “I don’t know if I can afford that. Is there a workaround for that?” And they know all—everything—about it.

Deborah Niemann 23:35
Yeah, my one opportunity to work with the health department was we used to have a kid’s camp here. And I had always been very shy about doing anything that involved the health department, because I thought that it was gonna be really, super hard. And, when the kids camp was here, I was so pleasantly surprised how nice the instructor was, and how much she was willing to work with us. And the same thing, like, with us becoming certified egg suppliers, you know. Like, I think it can sound really scary to some people—it certainly did to me. But, talking to other farmers who had done it is what finally convinced me, like, “Oh, all right, we could become a real egg supplier and, like, sell our eggs at the grocery store.”

Lisa Davis 24:21

Michael Davis 24:22
They’re not there to shut you down. That’s not their job. But I mean, if you go in with the perception that they’re an enemy, and they’re against you, then you may have issues. But if you look at them as a resource, and ask them important questions that they know, and they can educate you, it actually becomes a friendship and kind of a working partnership.

Lisa Davis 24:46
And for us in Vermont, you know, I don’t—I’m sure it’s slightly different in each state. But we have two different inspectors that we work with. There’s a different inspector who handles the farm side, basically everything through the production of the milk. And then there’s a second plant inspector that handles everything on the creamery side, from the time the milk is actually processed, right on through to the product making its way to market. And you know, they do come from the same department and the Agency of Agriculture, but they have two different skill sets, and they’re looking for different things, and they both provide a tremendous amount of value.

Deborah Niemann 25:27
Yeah. In Illinois, they would actually be… The one that would take care of the goats in the barn would be from the ag. department, and then the one who would be inspecting the milk processing facility would be from the health department.

Lisa Davis 25:40
“Health department,” ah. It’s a little bit different from Vermont.

Michael Davis 25:41

Deborah Niemann 25:43
But it’s two different people, you know? And that’s one of the things, too, I think that people need to understand, is that you can’t do this in your kitchen.

Lisa Davis 25:53
Definitely not.

Michael Davis 25:55
It might start in your kitchen, and then it’s gonna have to go somewhere else.

Deborah Niemann 26:00
You are gonna be doing the equivalent of, like, creating a commercial kitchen in a separate building. And, you know, like, and I tell—because people ask me all the time why we don’t sell milk. And it’s like, “Because we would have to build a completely different milking parlor and everything, and then we would have to build a room for making the cheese or whatever.” And so, there’s a lot.

Deborah Niemann 26:23
Earlier, in the very beginning, you mentioned that you used to make ice cream at home a lot for your family, and so tell us a little bit about how—because that’s the thing, you know? Everybody that, like, would eat our goat cheese at a party or something would be like, “Oh, you should be selling this stuff.” So, talk a little bit about the difference between making stuff in your kitchen and making it on commercial scale.

Michael Davis 26:47
Well, when you’re making it in your kitchen, it’s fun. No, I mean, it starts in the kitchen. You’ve got to love doing it. And I’ve always loved making ice cream. It’s like, since I was a kid, I remember getting bowls of ice cream and not just eating it, but stirring it, and watching the consistency change, and then throwing it in the freezer and watching it freeze back up again, and I always thought it was pretty neat that you could do that with food—make it a different texture. And then, no, as I got older, we bought an ice cream machine in our house, you know, a small, you know, one that you put in a freezer—the freezer bowl one. And I just got into making different flavors, and giving it to neighbors, and testing things. And then one day… Who was it? A neighbor of ours, he said he would never—he wouldn’t eat ice cream made from goat’s milk. So I took that as a challenge. And then, of course, he ate it without knowing what it was. And then—

Lisa Michael 27:50
And said it was the best he ever had!

Michael Davis 27:54
And then, I don’t know. I probably tested ice cream for… Oh, before this, I don’t know, a decade just making different types and testing my own recipes. One thing I’ve learned: It’s not easy. And, what you make in your kitchen does not transfer over to a commercial-scale product. It doesn’t work. So that was a whole new learning curve when we jumped into this. That was the biggest unknown. You literally cannot take a recipe from your ice cream book and go make it in a commercial freezer. It just doesn’t work that way. There’s different ingredients, different proportions, different things involved, and that was probably the scariest part of starting to do this. But yeah, no, I just, I loved doing it in the kitchen. But really, other than your flavors, it doesn’t transfer over to a commercial kitchen on that scale. It’s a lot different.

Lisa Davis 28:58
Yeah. And you’d be surprised at how many even experienced dairies, cow dairies, who are like, “How”—they ask us all the time—”How do you successfully make your gelato with the consistency it has with goat’s milk?” Because they’ve actually tried, and they cannot get it to come out right. It either seizes up the machine, and… And it is difficult! It’s tricky, and it’s very scientific. I always joke with Michael that, you know, a farmer who makes a value-added product has to not just be a farmer; they have to be an animal scientist, a food scientist, a product marketer, a salesperson, you know, and wear all of these different hats, and do them all equally well. And you have to… You know, when you’re launching a product into the market, you really have to find something that is truly differentiated. And you have to make that differentiated product outstanding in order to even stand a remote chance of succeeding.

Michael Davis 30:07
Especially if you’re small, you need to be very unique—

Lisa Davis 30:11

Michael Davis 30:11
—to be noticed.

Lisa Davis 30:12
So, you know, there’s a lot of, like, amazing cheesemakers out there, but it’s really hard to, you know, make a name for yourself as a new cheesemaker, even if you produce an outstanding product, because, you know, it’s not like cheese has the benefit of really strong branding. A lot of times you’re going to a specialty cheese shop where the monger—the cheesemonger—is helping you make selections. But you’re not looking at pretty product packaging. And, if you can’t convince the monger that your cheese is worth highlighting, then you’re really going to struggle with sales among a very, very crowded field. And in Vermont, the cheesemaking field is extraordinarily crowded. That’s not to say there aren’t great cheesemakers, but, you know, you have to think about all of those things: How differentiated your product is, how outstanding your product is, and whether you feel you can keep that level of consistency and quality up across the board.

Deborah Niemann 31:12
So, is that why you decided to make gelato instead of cheese, or ice cream, or anything else?

Michael Davis 31:19
During that testing, I never made gelato in my house before. It was always ice cream. You know, as an American kid, that’s what you know: ice cream. And that’s what you have access to: cow’s milk, heavy cream, egg yolks, and things like that. It was always gonna be some frozen product. That was my goal.

Lisa Davis 31:41
Frozen treat. Some form of ice cream!

Michael Davis 31:44
That’s what I was interested in. That’s what I loved. I knew it was going to be something like that. And the more I researched, and the more I decided on the market and the target that I was going for, then I came up with doing goat’s milk gelato. So, the idea came from: I wanted to produce a premium product that people with lactose issues, that are allergic to cow’s milk, could have, and that would be far superior than what they could imagine. And I wanted to do gelato, because I wanted it to be much lower in fat, but I still wanted it to have the texture and the flavor of premium ice cream. In fact, the flavor is stronger because there is less fat. But the texture is there. I don’t believe you have to throw in so much fat to get a smooth texture that is in super-premium ice cream. I can do the same thing with the fat that’s given to me from the Nigerian Dwarf, which is just whole milk, and the texture is better. And that was my goal. I wanted the ultimate gelato and flavor with straight whole milk that anybody would love to have. But more specifically, that those with lactose issues could have and be totally surprised.

Lisa Davis 33:14
Yes. And I… You know, it’s amazing to me, like, how many people I serve, you know, wherever I am—whether I’m sampling our product in a retail environment, or I’m out selling scoops and pints at farmer’s markets—the number of people who just fall over in pure joy at the prospect of being able to eat gelato again. Who have not had a viable option, either because they’re allergic to the casein protein in cow’s milk, or they’ve been told they’re lactose intolerant but it’s not actually lactose that bothers them, it’s other components of cow’s milk that simply don’t exist in goat milk. And they just go right back to their childhood, and they’re so ecstatic about it that it’s… As much work as it is, they keep us going with their reaction.

Michael Davis 34:09
And it wasn’t by accident that I came up with that. Again, it’s that… Going back to if you’re small, you need to figure out a way to be unique. I love making ice cream, period. But there’s so much ice cream out there that big companies produce, and some of it’s really good. And how are you gonna be able to compete with that? You need to find that niche that can work for you, especially as a small producer, that will keep people coming back.

Deborah Niemann 34:39
So, what exactly is the difference between gelato and ice cream?

Lisa Davis 34:44
There’s two main differences—and customers ask us this all the time. Gelato is churned at a much slower rate than ice cream. So it’s a denser finished product. It has less air that’s mixed into it in the process of churning. And the second main difference is that it’s lower in fat. In our case, it’s… We use—as you mentioned earlier, Deborah—just whole milk in the process of making it, and even though goat’s milk is much higher in butterfat, especially Nigerian milk, because we don’t have to add any cream like you do in the process of making regular ice cream with cow’s milk, the finished product ends up being much lower in fat as a result. So those are the two primary differences. I always tell people that it’s easy to remember, because it has less air and less fat.

Deborah Niemann 35:38
Oh, excellent. This has been really exciting, and really fun to talk to you about this. It’s been very educational, and hopefully helpful to people listening. Do you have any final words of advice?

Lisa Davis 35:52
I would just tell them, you know, we always encourage people to explore what’s possible with your animals, and with the milk that they produce, and that the sky’s really the limit, and to use their creativity, because what is going to make someone successful—whether they’re doing it on a tiny scale or have dreams of producing on a larger scale—is how unique your offering is. And just focus on making it outstanding.

Michael Davis 36:27
Yeah, and I guess I would say is, if you’re truly passionate about the idea that you have and that you want to pursue, do your research, but don’t research too much. You’ll never learn everything you’re gonna need to know if you haven’t done this, and you’ll just be in a rut, and you’ll never get going. We never would have started this if we would have researched everything we need to know. But if you’re truly passionate about it, you’re gonna learn as you go, and you’ll build that knowledge base, and you’ll just keep succeeding all the way. So, just go ahead and do it if you’re really that passionate.

Deborah Niemann 37:04
That’s great advice. And a good point to end this show on. Thank you again so much for joining us today and talking about this.

Michael Davis 37:12
Oh, thanks for having us. This was fun.

Lisa Davis 37:12
You’re welcome, Deborah. It was a lot of fun! I hope there’s lots of people out there that realize how awesome Nigerians are.

Deborah Niemann 37:21
Oh, I know.

Deborah Niemann
And that’s it for today’s show. Be sure to join us next week when we are going to be talking about accounting with goats. Be sure to hit the “subscribe” button so that you don’t miss an episode, and to see show notes, go to You can also find us on Facebook at See you again next time! Bye for now.

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