Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Proper Care of Milk

Goat Milk Needs Special Care

Ice bag for Henry Milker
I can remember as a kid proudly bringing in the half full milk pail to my mom every evening after milking my goats. The milk always had hair in it, most often it would also have floaters, you know, pieces of whatever fell off the body of the goat down into the milk and always, the goat would stick her hoof in the bucket at least once, often, 3 or 4 times. Now I don’t know about you, but we never washed our goat’s hooves before milking.  The hoof is the area where large amounts of pooh collect and just one good kick and dip in the milk bucket would get that goats hoof clean as a whistle. I would bring the milk bucket to mom and apologize about the ‘stuff” in the milk, she would always say, “Mikey, don’t worry about it, it’ll all come out when I strain the milk”.
Mom would get a piece of torn-off old sheet (clean but old) and place it over the mouth of a gallon mason jar. A big special rubber band around the mouth would hold the cloth in place. With a steady hand she would then pour the milk from my milk bucket down into the gallon jar. At the end of the process there would always be pieces of stuff that got strained from the milk. I thought that was just fine and drank goat milked strained through a bed sheet for 10 years. I didn’t kill me but heaven only knows what that milked contained after those floaters soaked in the milk bucket and became a part of the liquid.
 Closed milking systems keep out the stuff
A closed milking system that would protect the fresh clean milk from dirt and hair was not the main reason I invented the Henry Milker but it was certainly the second place reason. After cleaning the udder and teats with a pre-milking wipe, you just hook up the teat cups and watch the milk flow into a fresh clean mason jar, just like mom used to strain the milk into when I was a youngster. With the Henry Milking system you will never have to worry about hooves in the bucket, dirt and hair in the milk and you’ll never again have to strain your milk.
Quick chilling of milk
Goat milk needs to be chilled as soon as possible after leaving the goat’s teat. Goat milk contains active enzymes that will quickly multiply and if allowed to multiply too long will cause a reaction that often gives goat milk that off taste that so often leaves rookie goat milk drinkers unimpressed.You can now milk directly into the Henry Milker with the new carrier packed with ice, instant chilling.

Chilling the milk will slow the enzyme growth process and freezing the milk will completely stop it. As I milk each day with my Henry Milker, I fill one-quart jar, unscrew, place on a regular lid, and sit it in a small ice bag.
Once I have filled each of the quart jars and have finished my milking chores, I place each of the filled, chilled jars directly into the freezer. You want to make sure your jars are “freeze approved” (Henry Milkers come complete with freezer approved jars). I have the best tasting goat milk around because of my closed milking system, special feed rations and instant chill/freeze procedures for milk.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Raising Goats in the City?

I get lots of mail asking whether people can raise goats in the city limits. You've probably seen the big movement to get cities to allow people to raise chickens in their backyards, and its been pretty successful. As far as goats are concerned; if you're thinking about having your own little city goats, find out if its allowed. You can check out Municode. It's a great website that lists lots of city ordinances. If you live in a county, outside city limits, you'll have to call your county extension to get details on all the legalities.

If your city doesn't allow city goats, you can get a campaign going like they did in Denver, Kansas and others. There's a fabulous site that anyone considering raising urban goats should visit! It's called Goat Justice League and it was put together by a fabulous stay-at-home mom, Jennie Grant, who wanted to provide her family with whole foods and the joy of growing up on a farm. She has lots of tips on raising goats in the city and how to legalize goats in the city. Jennie was responsible for starting the movement in Seattle that helped legalize goats there.

Heidi Kooy in San Francisco fights for everything good and is raising goats on the Itty Bitty Farm in the City. Her blog is a must read.

Once you've determined you can have goats, there are a few things to consider. Yes, it is the biggest joy in the whole world to witness the birth of baby goats, bring fresh milk to your home twice each day and enjoy the benefits of your EXTREMELY entertaining goat family; but goats ARE livestock so you need to be sure you are READY for your goats before you rush out to buy them!

Goats are herd animals and so you must have at least two goats. It's completely stressful for a goat to be alone. Your lonely goat is liable to eat her way through the fence and into your neighbor's yard creating a playground in their new landscaping, or decide their new porch furniture makes a fantastic rock climbing gym... so be prepared to have two, adorable goats.

Goats are going to be a lot of work. You've got to milk them each morning and evening. It doesn't take a lot of time, but you can't miss a milking. It's painful for your goats and can cause health issues. The Henry Milker 2 allows you to milk your goats in no time without electricity and with your goat in perfect comfort, all while you enjoy your morning coffee!

You can make goat cheese, goat soap and all kinds of fabulous goat milk products. But you MUST, I CAN'T STRESS THIS ENOUGH, be committed to milking your goats twice a day at the same time each day. You'll need a milking stand, and they're easy, easy to build!

Goats also EAT A LOT! and they'll feast on your bushes and garden if given the chance... so you have to be sure your goats have a "goat-proof" living space so they don't escape to turn your backyard into a smorgasbord. We'll talk about the space in a minute. As far as the food, they'll need bales of hay or alfalfa pellets and high protein grain for your lactating females. We also keep a mineral brick that is made especially for goats that has copper in it (don't get one made for both sheep and goats because sheep cannot have copper so this brick is pretty useless for your goats).

 You can also feed your goats veggie scraps and greens--they love that! They also Love BlackBerry bushes and other bush leaves (make sure they are goat compatible before you feed your goats just any bush branches). They won't eat branches, but they eat the leaves. Goats also like to eat out of a feeder that is up high.

They do not like to eat anything off of the ground! If you have a feed store nearby, you can get your supplies there and the staff is usually pretty helpful in helping you get started. Depending on where you live it can cost you between $75 and $150 a month to feed your two goats. Don't forget fresh water! Your goats need fresh water available to them at all times.

One of the most important aspects of raising your city goats, is the enclosure. Most cities have codes about how close the goat dwelling can be to yours and your neighbor's house. Find out your city or county requirements. You should keep a miniature breed in the city as they require less space. These breeds need at least a 4 foot tall fence. You can use wood, but goats will gnaw on it and you might have to replace pieces every couple of years. Some people use electric fencing, but remember, different cities and counties have different rules about that, so be sure you check. The thing to remember is that your little goat friends are breakout artists... they can squeeze through a gap that's just 4 inches wide!

Plus, if you were thinking of using a wire-type fence, your little rascals will reserve time each day to lean on that top part of the fence, squish it, and dent it until they can "make an escape" over the top or under the bottom... they're quite industrious!!!

So be sure to build your fence without gaps and with strong, sturdy components (especially lining the top and bottom) or you may find yourself chasing your little darlings down the street in your bathrobe.
Keeping it clean is important. You should compost manure in a tumbler and use enzymatic products (available at your feed store or contact your local ag extension) to keep down the smell of urine. Keeping your goat area clean will also control flies and any vermin friends that want to take up residence in your new goat enclosure.

sheltered area
Goats also need shelter from the elements! Depending on where you live and the type of temperature and climate extremes, you can use Dog Igloos . You can also build draft free structures and line with straw or wood shavings for easier clean up. We also have installed a little "covered-porch" area off our enclosure with wood shavings so that our goats have a place to get out of the rain or snow without having to go inside their "house."

Goats will also need some routine medical care and maintenance. Hooves should be trimmed about every six weeks; deworming twice a year; and a once a year tetanus shot. Proper grooming is a must for a healthy goat.

Your goats need to give birth in order to produce milk. We recommend taking your two female goats for a romantic visit to someone who will provide a buck for the occasion. It is important you you learn the "signs" of when your doe is in heat.

 Goats will produce milk after giving birth for about 10 months and then it's time for the process to begin again. Since your goats need to keep giving birth for milk production, it's a good idea to find out if there are goat farms in the area that would be willing to purchase your new babies once they are weaned.

I don't recommend keeping bucks for several reasons. Bucks have a pretty pungent smell (and that's putting it nicely). And bucks need to be dehorned.  Bucks can also be ornery and confrontational. Given the limited space in an Urban environment, it's better to just VISIT bucks occasionally than to keep one.

We are always happy to answer your specific questions about how to start your urban goat family and would love to hear from anyone who is already having a great time enjoying their goats in the city! Send us your pictures too! Love to share them on the blog!

Other Links You Might Be Interested In! 

Goat Barn  
Where to go To Buy A Goat?
Buying a Dairy Goat
Buying a Goat For Milk

How To Build a Hanging Hay Feeder
Milking Stand 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Goat Cheese Makin' from Coffey Break Farms

Just spent the most fabulous half hour talking with Debra Coffey from Coffey Break Farms in Dunnellon, Florida! Debra and her husband use our Henry Milker 2 to milk their goats and provide goat milk and cheese to local co-ops and farmer's markets. She shared a pretty simple, less mess way of making their famous Chevre Goat Cheese so thought I'd share it with you.

Most of the time the Henry House has at least half a dozen mason jars and pitchers with cheese cloth containing delicious goat cheese in the making scattered about the kitchen counters. Debra shared a way that makes clean up a bit easier by using inexpensive plastic cups she bought at the local Wal-Mart.

She bought the large tumblers (about 4 for a dollar) and punched a bunch of holes in the bottom with a nail. Rather than use cheese cloth, Debra just drops the ingredients right into the tumblers, puts them on a rack in the oven (don't turn it on... just use it for out of the way cheese making...melting plastic and goat cheese do NOT smell good) with a deep pan underneath to catch the whey!

After about 12 hours in the cold oven, Debra removes the tumblers and turns them upside down into a bowl. The cheese retains the pretty shape of the tumbler and you can just drop the tumblers in the dishwasher for easy clean up!

She sprinkles with sea salt, covers the cheese and bowl with plastic wrap and puts in the fridge overnight to finish. In the morning, there's always a little more whey that has drained and Debra just tilts the bowl to drain the whey. If you'd like drier cheese, Debra suggests buying a plain, white, cotton pillowcase, cutting it in half and sewing the end of the cut piece shut on one end. Now you have two, large cotton containers. You can place your cheese in the pillow cases over a pitcher or other container and let it drain one more time overnight. Remove your finished cheese and flavor with herbs, fruits, honey, wasabi, sesame seeds--the options are endless! Just wash your pillow cases with a little bleach and their ready for the next batch of cheese!

You can find Debra selling her beautiful cheeses at Farmer's Markets near Dunnellon, Florida or e-mail her at FinoFever@gmail.com to get details of getting some of her cheeses shipped to you!

Other shorts you may enjoy: 
How to make Goat Cheese? 
How to Build a Milking Stand 
Buying a Goat For Milk
The Henry Milker: How Does Goat Milk Taste
Does Your Goat Milk Taste Like Your Goat?
Of course, you can buy our ever popular book on how to make goat cheese on the Henry Milker Site at www.HenryMilker.com as well as our Henry Milker Goat Milker to make it easy to get the milk you need to make delicious cheese.

Happy Cheese Making!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Goat Grooming

A Good Brushing Feels Good!
If you are a hobby farmer or you're just raising a couple of goats for pets, it is not absolutely necessary to brush your goat on a regular basis but don't stop reading here, there are some other reasons you may want to pay special attention and give that goat a good brushing once in a while.

1. Brushing gives you an opportunity to check your goat closely for any skin cuts, lumps, pests or other skin and coat abnormalities.

2. Brushing removes dirt, dandruff and loose hair. With some goats that have a real build-up, the removal will increase blood flow and improve skin and coat health.

3. Brushing should always be done in the direction of the hair, beginning at the neck. A firm bristle brush should be used.

Other shorts you may enjoy:

Friday, June 7, 2013

How To Make Your Goat Friendly

From Spooky to Friendly

The best way to make your goat friendly is to buy a friendly goat in the first place. Most people don’t care if their goat is friendly or not, they just want to be able to milk it or eat it. If you want goats for pets, give it a test drive and make sure the goats are approachable and touchable before you load them up and take them home.

If you just end up with unfriendly goats for 1 reason or another, don’t give up hope because most can be friendlyized.

Try these sure-fire proven methods.
1.   Approach goats while they are lying down and just sit with them. Talking softly is good and patting them in a non-sensitive place like the shoulder or rump (never the ears, snout or tail).
2.   Don’t chase or corner your goat in an attempt to catch it and pet it.
3.   Find out what your goat’s favorite treat is by trying a variety of things. Raisins, apple pieces, molasis soaked feed and corn chips are each potentially great treats for your goat.
4.   Sit down, don’t stand, and hod your hand out with your goat’s favorite.

It takes patience and time to instill enough trust in a flighty goat to approach you and allow you to pet it. To win the goat over will take care and love. Like dogs, goats are able to sense your intentions. Unlike dogs, goats will not bite!

Other shorts you may enjoy:
Milking Stand
Making Your Own Goat Treats
Dancing With Goats 
Goat Tricks

Goats Get Lonely

Your Goat Needs a Companion

Goats are herd animals and must not be raised alone. Goats are miserable living alone and will let you know they are miserable by crying 24 hours/day. I will not sell 1 of my goats to someone unless they buy 2 or can show me that they have others at home.

If you have a doe, the very best friend would be a wether (neutered male), another doe is OK but often they do not get along, especially if they are raising kids. If you are raising a milk goat you will not want to keep a buck in the same pen, an adjoining pen works OK. You really should have another goat as a companion but other animals will do when you get in a pinch. I was in a pinch and put 2 does in to graze with the ponies and horse at the Red Fence Farm. They got along wonderfully, it seemed the horses would just kinda back up to the goats and enjoy themselves and really relax. It was a matter of days that I discovered the goats (probably nutrient deficient) had eaten half of the tail off of my daughters show horse. I was not too popular for a while.

Other shorts you may enjoy:
Where to go To Buy A Goat?
Buying a Dairy Goat
Buying a Goat For Milk
How To Build a Hanging Hay Feeder 
How to Build a Milking Stand
Goat Barn