How to Produce Delicious Goat's Milk

I’m here to tell you that goat’s milk can taste delicious. Milk is very delicate, and must be handled carefully in order to produce a wonderful tasting product. We prefer to drink our milk raw, as God intended. We have had goats since Feb. 2003, and have been milking them since April 2003. We have learned a lot in that time.

Goat milk should NOT taste goaty! When I tell people that we raise goats for their milk I usually get to hear a story from their childhood about how bad goat’s milk tastes, or that they had to drink some with a hair in it, or how it stunk; basically that it’s much different than cow’s milk. We have not experienced this with our milk once we learned to handle it properly (which will prevent the off or “goaty” taste).

There are several things that can cause goat’s milk to have a “goaty” or “off” taste, please see additional comments below the list for more information:

  1. Housing the bucks with the does, or too close to the does can cause the milk to taste “goaty” (that “cologne” scent is STRONG and the does love it).
  2. If any debris/hair drops into the milk while milking; this can cause an “off” taste.
  3. All items that come in contact with the milk need to be sterilized regularly as bacteria can cause an “off” taste; this means the pail, the strainer, the jars that hold the milk, etc.
  4. The milk needs to be chilled quickly, and kept very cold, in order to be kept “asleep”, this means cold at about 35-38 degrees.
  5. The doe could be ill, or have subclinical mastitis.
  6. Sometimes if the doe is out of balance mineral-wise, her milk can taste bad or off.
  7. Something the doe has eaten can cause bad tasting milk (weeds or some types of plants).
  8. And lastly, apparently some doe’s milk just doesn’t taste very good. Also freshly kidded does’ milk doesn’t taste “right” for a couple of weeks after freshening.
  9. Cobalt deficiency can cause your doe’s milk to taste “off”.

1. HOUSING THE BUCKS WITH DOES We do not let our bucks run with our does, as we prefer to plan for the births. Even though we live in Arizona, and have mild winters, we prefer to have our does kidding in March or April. This means that we breed our does in October or November. Our bucks are separated from the does by a four foot walkway, and although the bucks are fairly close to the does, we do not experience “off” tastes.

2. DEBRIS OR HAIR IN THE MILK We use unscented baby wipes to clean the doe’s udders and teats, and also wipe their belly to make sure there is no stray hay or hairs stuck there. Interestingly enough, milk foams up when hand milking. It almost seems that while designing goats for milking, the big guy upstairs took debris falling into the milk, into consideration and decided to have the milk foam up. This usually catches any stray hair or piece of hay that happens to drop into the bucket.

3. STERILIZE ALL MILKING EQUIPMENT REGULARLY We wash our milking equipment with soap and hot water daily, and let it air dry. Every week or so, we bathe the items in hot water, with some bleach added to the water. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used.

4. CHILL THE MILK QUICKLY Click on the link for more details.

5. SUBCLINICAL MASTITIS With regards to mastitis, you can test your milk for mastitis by using either a purchased kit, CMT (California Mastitis Test Kit) from someplace such as Jeffers, Caprine Supply, or Hoegger’s Goat Supply OR you can make a homemade solution which will cost little to make, and last a very long time. Click here for the homemade mastitis recipe.

Subclinical mastitis does not show up when using the above tests. You should notice some difference in the doe’s udder if she has subclinical mastitis. Mainly her milk supply will have dropped (in our experience). This is why we always keep barn records on the amounts that our does produce. A drop in production can indicate that she is not feeling well, could have mastitis, isn’t getting enough good quality hay, or is in heat, just to name a few. You can test for subclinical mastitis by sending a sample of the milk to a laboratory, or try a home test can be accomplished in about as much time, and will cost less. You will not know exactly which bacteria you are dealing with by doing the “home test” but you will know that there is a problem and then you will want to go on to laboratory testing.

TESTING FOR SUBCLINICAL MASTITIS WITH SIMPLE HOME TESTS Click on the link for more details.

MILK TESTING THROUGH A LABORATORY Click on the link for more details.

9. COBALT (VITAMIN B) DEFICIENCY can cause the milk to taste “off” or “goaty”. Irene Ramsay was the one to tell me about testing the doe for cobalt deficiency by using standard baker’s yeast. Not the fast rising type. Or you can use brewer’s yeast. We use 1 Tablespoon each day for seven days to challenge. If the milk begins to taste good, you can rest assured it is a cobalt deficiency. After the seven days, cut the dose down to 1 teaspoon each day. If we miss two days, our milk begins to taste “off”. I have not yet found a source of cobalt that would be easier to use. Right now I give each doe 1 teaspoon of yeast daily, mixed with peanut butter, on a cracker. There are sources of cobalt that could be added to the water.

Here is an article from Irene Ramsay with natural ways for treating mastitis, if you are hesitant to treat with antibiotics (we are). Some of these natural treatments are quite successful and it is good to know about them.

You can learn more about the benefits of raw milk at realmilk.org and The Weston A. Price Foundation.

Here is an article in support of raw milk.

Originally written August 29, 2005

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