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.


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 and The Weston A. Price Foundation.

Here is an article in support of raw milk.

Originally written August 29, 2005

Remedying Copper Deficiency with Copasure Bolus

Goats need a lot of copper, and the ones living in Arizona tend to be deficient. One of the most popular ways of administering extra copper is bolusing. Pat Coleby followers like to use Copper Sulfate which you can find at Home Depot or any type store along the same line. It is commonly used as root killer. I know many folks use it straight and their goats eat the blue crystals greedily, but I am 1) uncomfortable with this and 2) have actually offered the crystals to the goats and they won’t have anything to do with them.

Irene Ramsay has a method where she uses the Copper Sulfate diluted with water, and drenches the goats for a number of days. Eventually I plan to detail that method here.

In the meantime, we have been using Copasure for our copper supplement. See below for pictures which indicate copper deficiency in one of our does.

I have to say it’s my least favorite chore when it comes to the goats (yes, even disbudding since that’s only ONE time in their lives, lasts about 2 minutes total and you’re done forever!). They hate swallowing the boluses, they fight me and spit them out, chew them — it’s just a very physical job which I dread. Sometimes I get lucky on the second try and down it goes. More often than not I end up trying more times and sometimes have to use a second bolus (prepared especially for this possibility). I’ve yet to get the bolus into them on the first try. Once I even thought I had the bolus into our herd sire and went all the way into the house only to discover the bolus was STILL in the drenching gun!!

The Saanendoah site has a huge amount of information with regard to copper deficiency, you will definitely want to read more about it there.

The copper rods lose their effect after 4-5 months, so bolusing should technically be done at least every five months.

Here are the supplies we use for copper bolusing:

Copasure Bolus 12.5gm

As you can see, the bolus is very close to the size of a AA battery. Just about the same diameter and a bit shorter.

We purchased ours from Valley Vet $30.95 plus $5.00 handling (if your order is under $50), free shipping, no tax for Arizona. This container included a black nipple which holds the bolus so you can administer it with a drenching gun.

Image shows the drench gun tip with the black nipple attached and the bolus inserted into the black nipple.

Drench Gun

From Valley Vet. We bought this drenching gun to administer fluids and other medicines. $11.99.

“13” Gelatin Caps

From Valley Vet. 100 capsules in the pack. $12.15.

Item 17377. Gelatin Capsules
1 1/4″X1/2″ 1/8 oz

“000” Gelatin Caps

Found these at We bought some smaller caps for the smaller goats. We have one Nigerian Dwarf buck and I can’t imagine trying to get him to swallow the “13” capsules. $10.00 for 200 capsules, plus $4.00 s/h. If you find a better deal, let me know so I can post it here!

Postage Hanging Scale

I found this one on eBay $4.95 with free shipping on a Buy It Now auction. It weighs up to 100 grams, but of course I need it for weighing much less. Try using these keywords at eBay:

hanging pocket scale gram -digital

In the beginning we broke open the 12.5 gram bolus of Copasure, lined up the rods and divided them up into portions which we thought were appropriate. The dosing amount is 1 gram rods per 22 pounds of goat. So one of our does needed 6 grams Copasure. Take a bolus, open it and dump it out into a line. Divide the line of rods into half. Scoop that half back into the empty capsule. Cap it. Another of our does needs 8 grams Copasure, so I split the line of rods into 3 portions. Scooped 2 portions back into the empty capsule.

Also here are some measurements using smaller sized gelcaps:

4g – for 80-90# animals (Fill large half of #000 cap full, plus pinch or two in small half)
3.125g – for 60-70# animals (Fill large half of #000 cap to 1/8″ below top)
2.5g – for 50# animals (Fill large half of #00 cap)
2.08g – for 40-45# animals (Fill to 3/8″ below top of large half of #00 cap)
1.78g – for 35-40# animals (Fill to very top of large half of #0 cap)
1.56g – for 30-35# animals (Fill almost to top of large half of #0 cap)
1.25g – for 20-30# animals (Fill to top of large half of #1 cap)
.78g – for 15-20# animals (Fill to 1/4″ below top of large half of #1 cap)
.63g – for 10-15# animals (Fill almost to top of large half of #3 cap)

I finally decided for $5.00 I’d invest in a gram scale.

Find out how much each goat needs by taking a tape measure of the “heart girth” of the goat. Fiasco Farm gives a chart and explanation of how to take the measurement.

So you find your goat weighs 100 pounds. Take 100 and divide it by 22, which gives you 4.5 grams of rods for this goat. A 150 pound goat would need 6.8 grams (you can just round that up to 7 grams). I make up the boluses, write the goat’s name on a sandwich bag so I don’t lose track of which bolus belongs to who. I wonder how many hits I’m going to get on this page with people looking for ways to weigh and store illegal drugs with all this talk of baggies and grams and such? :-&

As I mentioned earlier, you may want to make up at least two boluses per goat, as they will fight and spit out the boluses. After one or two times spitting them out, I just rinse them off and try to get them back down into the goat, but after 3-4 times of trying the capsule begins to disintegrate and you have to use a new one. In the past, I only made up one bolus and ended up going all the way back into the house to make up a new one.

The bolus begins to disintegrate if you are using the drenching gun, as you are sucking up some water into the gun first, then putting the capsule in place. The theory is that when you squeeze the water into the goat’s mouth, they automatically swallow and then the capsule goes right down, easy! NOT. At least not for me, usually. According to the Saanendoah site I mentioned above, you should not allow the goats to chew the rods if you can help it. They may break open a capsule and you will have no choice in the matter, but don’t get the idea you can top-dress their daily ration as this will alter the rods (I take this would not be a good thing).

I suppose if your goat has a favorite treat that you know they swallow whole, you could bury the rods in that. One person mentioned dosing up a marshmallow. Another claims she pours the rods into corn syrup in a syringe and the goats suck it right down.

I hope this has helped you with using the Copasure bolus.


This doe is black with white spots. You can see the hair on her flank is beginning to fade and turn reddish. Once she receives copper, the hair will turn black like the rest of her.

Also, another indicator of low copper is the tail begins to lose the hair at the tip. The hair splits out away from the bald spot.

Here is a picture of one of our does that had faded hair on the flank.

Originally written 6-13-05


We are also going to be disbudding our own kids this year,” I so casually said in Dallas’ 2005 kidding story. I’m here to tell you it’s much easier said than done!

That said, yesterday I learned how to disbud kids, thank you to a lesson from Danni Ackerman of Mighty Oak Farm.

On Sunday the 20th, we were all ready to go. We had built the kidding box, had the iron heated, had the kid in the box – who was standing there so innocently and patiently waiting for whatever the people had in store for him… and could not follow through. I’d seen five kids disbudded, two of our own, but I was unable to press the hot iron to the kid’s head.

I keep reading that you have to do the disbudding before the kids are 10 days old, but I’ve learned since that this applies to other types of goats, we are raising Nubians and there is a larger window of opportunity. See Irene Ramsay’s range of dates here. At any rate, I was a nervous wreck, worrying about getting the bucklings done. The next day I called a lady we’d gotten some ram lambs from, and she recommended her next door neighbor. We took the bucklings to have them disbudded that day.

I was still interested in learning how to disbud our doelings myself, so I started e-mailing some goat people to see if someone could give me a lesson.

When I arrived at Danni’s, there would be a short delay as one of her yearling does was in labor, and just beginning to push. She pushed out two tiny doelings (okay, tiny in comparison to the *horses* our does delivered) within a half hour of my arrival.

Danni then proceeded to disbud 7 or 8 kids. Her daughter was present and expressed a desire to try disbudding for the first time. I have to say I think this helped me to see her first time experience, feeling, “Hey, if she can do it, and it’s her first time, then I should be able to.”

Danni let me “practice” on one of her meat wether kids, whose horns were quite visible and about 1/2″ in height. I managed to disbud him properly, and then moved on to disbud first Zoë and then Moselle. We all survived the experience.

I learned that our disbudding box was an issue in our initial failure. I chose the wooden type headpiece, and the kidding box building instructions allowed too big of a hole for the head. I will purchase the aluminum headpiece, as shown here. This one works much more efficiently as the kid is not able to withdraw its head back into the box, hah. Well, our kidding box didn’t actually allow the entire head to move back, but it did not restrict the kid properly.

I also paid close attention to the way I held the kid’s head, being careful not to cover the nose and smother, which Irene Ramsay says in her disbudding article can cause the kid to panic and wriggle harder. [See Step 14]

There are apparently many different methods for disbudding, as many different ways to do as there are ways to raise goats.

With our first kid’s disbudding in 2003, the operator burned around the hornbud, then scraped the “cap” off with a butter knife. She put a syringeful of hydrogen peroxide on the burn, then proceeded to burn another time. She finished with a spray of Blu-Kote.

With our second kid’s disbudding in 2004, the operator burned around the hornbud, then took a very sharp knife/box cutter (maybe an exacto knife) and sliced off the hornbud, she burned again, then finished with a spray of Fural Spray.

The lady who disbudded our buckling kids earlier this year used a low wattage iron to burn, and scraped the hornbud off with the disbudding iron. The second kid’s disbudding was done immediately following the first, and his disbudding was not successful as he is growing scurs.

Some articles say you have to look for the copper ring, others say to look for a white ring. I think the copper ring is the skin (leather) being burned, if you get a white ring, you are down to the skull. (I think!) Most US breeders prefer the biggest, heaviest, most expensive disbudding iron you can buy, while Irene Ramsay prefers a much lower wattage disbudding iron. Some articles say to count a slow five, some say count to ten.

Yesterday, Danni’s method was to burn for a count of slow ten and find the copper ring. If the hornbuds are fairly prominent, she pulls off the cap totally. But she does not cut off the hornbud. She says it will disappear eventually. With our doelings, she did not have me pull off the caps, as the hornbuds were still on the small side. Danni finishes the job with a spray of Fight Bac, a teat spray that chills the wound.

I guess you will probably find variation in every person’s disbudding method. Good luck!

Here are some articles on disbudding that I found to be helpful:

Irene Ramsay’s Disbudding

Fiasco Farms Disbudding

Notes from 2006 disbuddings

This year I had to disbud 8 kids. I learned some more things.

1) Dallas’ doeling born March 9. Her disbudding is okay. I disbudded her on March 20th, 11 days old.

2) Zoë’s buckling kids born April 3rd. One of Zoë’s bucklings (the black and white one) seemed ready to disbud by 2 to 3 days old. I did not have a disbudding box and had to wait for my dh to find the time to build me another one. Finally, when the buckling was 14 days old, I was able to disbud him. In 2004, the lady that disbudded our kids refuses to disbud until kids are 14 days old. So I thought it would be okay to do him that far along. As it turns out, that was much too late. For one thing, the disbudding iron tip was too narrow. He now has one normal looking horn growing, and scurs on the other side. Since he is scheduled for the freezer, I did not put him through another round of disbudding.

Zoë’s other buckling kid was still not ready for disbudding on Wednesday April 19th, and I had not done him by Friday April 21st, (18 days old) according to emails I wrote to Holistic Goats. We bred Zoë to our polled Nigerian Dwarf buck, so I wondered if he was polled. I must have disbudded him that weekend, because emails to Arizona Goats state he is disbudded on May 12th. Even though he was done after 18 days of age, his disbudding worked great. His hornbuds were narrower than his brothers.

3) Brooke’s doeling triplets were born on April 7th. We placed one kid with a friend the day after she was born. I disbudded The Brooklings on Wednesday, April 19th, they were twelve days old. Their disbudding was successful.

4) Lightning’s buckling kid was born April 26th. I apparently did Lightning’s buckling too late also, and the disbudding iron tip was too narrow for his hornbuds. He was disbudded on May 7th, at 10 days of age.

5) Moselle’s doeling and buckling were born on May 27th. I disbudded them on Saturday June 3rd, they were 8 days old. It was perfect for the buckling, but it was too soon for the doeling. Actually, one side worked but the other side she began growing a perfect horn. I debated doing her that day, as her hornbuds were BARELY present. Irene says if you do the disbudding too soon, it might not work. In this case, it did not work out.

I finally realized on July 8th that the horn was growing and getting larger. My disbudding iron tip was again, too narrow. So I borrowed one from my neighbor, she has several different sizes. I disbudded Cocoa for the second time on July 10th. I used a wider tip and I scraped the hornbud off. There was a hard little knob left sticking up. I noticed today July 30, that she had knocked off the scab from her head and the little knob is gone. It looks like her disbudding will be successful this time.

Originally written March 28, 2005 with note from Spring 2006

How We Got Into Goats

Getting into goats was rather impulsive on our part. I’d joined this Yahoo Groups e-mail list called Barnyard — believe it or not — to talk about chickens. Just a few days later, an email came through entitled “Friday Market” advertising a Black and Tan Nubian doeling that would be a “great family milker”.

Meet U-Say Ranch Brooklyn, our first doe, but second in command
DOB: 5/3/2002 DOD: 4/8/2006

February, 2003. We went over and took a look at her, having already impulsively decided we’d like to have a goat for milk as we are interested in being self-sufficient. She looked like a real sweetheart, and we decided we wanted her. We paid for her, and made arrangements to pick her up several days later once we’d built a shelter and yard for her.

We built a little shelter for her, and we had enough of a wire fence to build her a small corral. We went over and picked up our new goat, 9 month old Brooke. Well… being so naive, we didn’t know that goats — especially ones raised in a rather large herd — do not do well living all alone. Brooke had a very difficult 24 hours. She bleated constantly, and would only eat and drink when we were with her. She was very people oriented, having been bottle fed for CAE prevention, but she missed being with other goats terribly. It was either move in with Brooke, have her move into the house with us (kidding!) or get another goat. We chose the latter.

Brooklyn is registered with ADGA as a recorded grade as we do not know her lineage.

Meet U-Say Ranch Dallas, our second doe and herd queen
DOB: 3/10/2002

The next day we went back and came home with 10 month old Dallas, who happens to be Brooke’s aunt. Oh, and we changed Brooke’s name to Brooklyn, so both girls would have city names. Dallas was supposedly 3 months pregnant. About 1 week later, she showed signs that she had possibly miscarried. About one week after that, she showed signs of being in heat! We were kind of disappointed, but kind of relieved, as we weren’t sure we were ready to have kids, and take on the whole milking process. So we went along our merry way, and decided to get Dallas bred three weeks later when she again showed signs of being in heat. We took her over to meet with Jacobs Pride Peanut again, two days in a row. We got over our disappointment, and began to look forward to kids in August.

Well… on March 31st, I was raking up goat berries and as usual, the two girls were standing right there next to me where I was trying to clean. I leaned over and patted Dallas’ right side, and rubbed on her a bit… and suddenly I realized I felt a kid in there!!!!!!!!! OH! All of a sudden we were on high alert day and night! Dallas had originally been exposed to the buck on four occasions, so we had four due dates to look forward to, which were April 4, 8, 18 and 19. Gestation is 150 days, varying from 145 to 155. So technically we were already on alert for the first due date, and could continue stressing until the 24th of April. Luckily she had mercy on us and kidded on April 8th. She had one buckling, and one doeling. We kept her doeling kid, and named her Lightning.

Dallas is registered with ADGA as a recorded grade as we were unable to secure documentation of her lineage. We do know Dallas’ littermate, AZ Apache Valley So Hot Ashes, is registered with ADGA.

Dallas’ dam The-Apache-Vales Thelma is a recorded grade and her sire is AZ Apache Valley Joseph.

U-Say Ranch Lightning Bolt
DOB: 4/8/2003

Lightning is Dallas’ doeling kid, which makes her Brooklyn’s cousin. Lightning is a black and white spotted doeling with a wonderful lineage on her sire’s side. Her sire is Jacobs Pride Peanut. Peanut’s sire is *B Six-M-Galaxy Milanis Pistachio, and his dam is Six-M-Galaxy Aisha 5*M. In October 2004 at the Arizona State Fair I had the honor of meeting Debbie Emholtz the owner of the wonderful Jacob’s Pride herd. What a neat lady!

Lightning is registered with ADGA as 50% American, 50% recorded grade.

Pepper, our first buck
DOB: Unknown

Pepper is an unregistered Nigerian Dwarf. He has waddles and brilliant blue eyes. We keep Pepper as a buddy for Bambi, our Nubian herd sire. We occasionally breed Pepper to our young does to freshen them for the first time.

N.AZ. Anatolians Keci’s Bambi, our second buck
DOB: 2/23/2003

Bambi is a gorgeous spotted registered American Nubian who has a great milking background which includes Crown Hill, Carousel, and Sunny Hill. His dam is Az High Country Spotty, a registered American doe, and his sire is Ragels Ziegenhof Keci registered Purebred and unfortunately deceased. As a 5 year old (2004), his dam Spotty (I believe she has been freshened 3 times) gives a gallon each morning and evening.

U-Say Ranch Zoë
DOB: 3/17/2005

Zoë is one of Lightning’s 2005 doeling kids, littermate to Moselle. Zoë is rust colored, like her sire and granddam, with a perpetual milk beard on her chin. Zoë’s sire is N.AZ. Anatolians Keci’s Bambi.

Zoë will be registered with ADGA as 75% American, 25% recorded grade.

U-Say Ranch Moselle
DOB: 3/17/2005

Moselle is one of Lightning’s 2005 doeling kids, littermate to Zoë. Moselle is a gorgeous rust, black and white doe. Lightning throws the white belt Moselle sports across her middle. Moselle’s sire is N.AZ. Anatolians Keci’s Bambi.

Moselle will be registered with ADGA as 75% American, 25% recorded grade.

Mighty Oak Farm Northern Dancer
DOB: 2/7/2005

January 30, 2006. We have a new milker! Thank you, Danni of Mighty Oak Farm Nubians in Tucson, Arizona!