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Thread: Starting a milk goat farm

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Starting a milk goat farm

    In this thread I would like to discuss everything necessary to start up a milk goat farm with some dairy production.

    This is kind of two-fold:
    1.) Milk Goat farm and husbandry. That's all the assets and techniques you'll need to know to farm with milk goats.
    2.) Dairy and Cheese production. On the methods, technology and equipment for producing high value goat cheese and other diary products.

    Since this I want to try myself. I can start with what I've done so far.
    - Identifying a suitable property: 25 ha bushveld farm (Note: that's near Pretoria South Africa).
    - Identifying breeders: Got a Toggenburg goat breeder that can supply.
    - Know how on farming and dairying - That's something I work on right now.

    I welcome good info and tips on planning and realization. For special questions of more detail we will have to create new threads to avoid overloading here.

  2. #2
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    Thank you for being here. You already have added a lot to the discussion for such a new member. All we need now is some more dairy goat people. Meanwhile, I'm calling on all intersted members to pitch in, ask questions and help prime the pump in this new section.

    I'm especially intersted in goats not only in terms of delicious cheeses, but their ability to provide food in developing economies with relatively few input costs.

    Is that a correct impression Rhino?
    John Osthus
    Dairyforums.com Creator and Admin Guy
    St. Louis, MO

  3. #3
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    That's correct: Yes, goats as an easy to keep food provider with the potential of providing high value food products.

  4. #4
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    Well I did not have a big Saanen goat farm, but I would think that if you want cheese, you might want to use a Nigerian buck on those Togenburgs because their butterfat is not that high. Nigerians and Nubians are the Jerseys of the goat world. (my jersey is producing 6% butterfat right now) Here is a site that says what average butterfats goat breeds produce
    Kinder - 5-7%

    Nigerian - 5-6%

    Nubian - 4.61%

    American La Mancha 3.80%

    Oberhasli 3.6%

    Alpines - 3.56%

    Saanen - 3.52%

    Toggenburg 3.38%

  5. #5
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    Comparatively those fat tests seem low compared to my "normal" type of Holstein that makes 3.7-4.0% fat and 3.05-3.15% protein.


    As you compare breeds, do you have averages for pounds of components each breed will produce? (Example: Jerseys and Holsteins produce very similar levels levels of total components, but in very different milk volumes.)

  6. #6
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    I think the original poster wanted to make cheese. I used to make goat cheese. I am no expert and all my goats got killed in a forest fire. But now I too, have a Jesey cow and make cheese. Goat milk is different from cow. Goat is generally lower fat, which you need for cheese. It is naturally homogenized as the fat globules are small. It is also more acidic.

    The classic goat milk cheese is 'Chevre. I have tried to reproduce chevre with my 6% butterfat cow milk I call it 'Bovre'. But it tastes more like Neufchatel. It is not acidic enough and it has no goaty 'tang'. However, for the latest batch I used buttermilk for the culture instead of a commercial mesophilic culture. And viola It is Chevre flavor. But not the goatyness.

    Some people keep the billy bucks near their does. And the milk and cheese tastes more than goaty, it tastes rank. But this is what some people like
    Last edited by milk; 02-18-2014 at 10:21 PM.

  7. #7
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    The Saanen breed has highest volume and low components and so does the Toggenburg on less of a volume. That is why I suggested to get a Nigerian or Nubian buck and breed for higher fat. Really, I think the ideal dairy goat for cheese would be a Saanen/ Nubian cross. Lots of higher fat milk.

    Nubians can drive people crazy because they bleat constantly. You don't want to bed down with your goats at a livestock show next to the Nubian people.

    Maybe we can get some goat people to come over to this board.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by milk View Post

    Maybe we can get some goat people to come over to this board.
    Thanks very much for that. Anything we can do to boost the discussion here would be much appreciated. We have a number of steady people here who have a lot of smarts, and keep a good discussion going. but I'm trying to figure out how to get more people in here absent any ad budget.

    i just discovered Keeping a Family Cow through your other post and I'm suffering a serious case of forum envy.

    Confession: I love goats and always have. No doubt cows are cool, but goats are just so friendly and curious. I try to talk my sister into getting a couple for her small farm. If I had land I would have a couple of goats for sure. Not so sure about milking them, however.
    John Osthus
    Dairyforums.com Creator and Admin Guy
    St. Louis, MO

  9. #9
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    Choice of Breed
    Quote Originally Posted by milk View Post
    Well I did not have a big Saanen goat farm, but I would think that if you want cheese, you might want to use a Nigerian buck on those Togenburgs because their butterfat is not that high. Nigerians and Nubians are the Jerseys of the goat world. (my jersey is producing 6% butterfat right now) Here is a site that says what average butterfats goat breeds produce
    Kinder - 5-7%

    Nigerian - 5-6%

    Nubian - 4.61%

    American La Mancha 3.80%

    Oberhasli 3.6%

    Alpines - 3.56%

    Saanen - 3.52%

    Toggenburg 3.38%
    The Toggenburg Breeder I know says average of 3.5 fat at about 900 liters per year during lactation period - and I've seen the literature giving higher figures as well. To my knowledge the other breeds except the Saanen & Alpines do have lower total milk production. But I suggest one needs to have some verified confirmation from the breeder, since I think there are some differences within those breeds as well. The other issue is how production does relate to nutrition.

    My idea to get goats from various breeders first, keep book on their production and the selectively breed for desired results. The Nubian/Saanen combination was already suggested. The thing for me would be to find a Nubian breeder locally.


    The figures above still can assist with orientation, because I think they reflect some averages.
    Last edited by Rhino; 02-19-2014 at 07:08 AM.

  10. #10
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    Here is another table I found, Table 1, on milk components averages by breed http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/FreePubs/pdfs/ua260.pdf This university has got Togs listed as 3.3 milkfat.

    Are there dairies in your country producing goat cheese? It would be a good thing to find out what breed of crossbreed they use. Also, a good source of seed stock and 'milky' little bucklings.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by milk View Post
    Here is another table I found, Table 1, on milk components averages by breed http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/FreePubs/pdfs/ua260.pdf This university has got Togs listed as 3.3 milkfat.

    Are there dairies in your country producing goat cheese? It would be a good thing to find out what breed of crossbreed they use. Also, a good source of seed stock and 'milky' little bucklings.
    The breeders I know do have small dairies on their farmers... Two milking machines and then the equipment for cheese making.
    The ones I know all have at least Toggenburgs, sometimes combined with British Alpine or Bunte Deutsche Edelziege.

    The yield for cheese is about 10% of the weight of the milk. ... Just postn't pics of Toggenburgs in the breed thread.

  12. #12
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    So I went on a dairy production and cheese making course last week. Will post a special thread on this together with photos and perhaps some videos.

  13. #13

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    I have a small herd of Nubians - 2 does and a buck - that I currently use for making soap and lotion. West Virginia, USA, just passed herdshare laws last May so that is on the books for offerings this year. I have been doing a lot of research lately on micro dairies since I plan on expanding and adding more goats this year, possibly extending into Oberhasli and Toggenburg. Haven't completely decided on which breed(s) I want to add. There is very little interest in dairy goats in my area, mostly because of the lack of ability to get raw milk until recently. I'm going to work with my county fair board and livestock association to try and get at least an open dairy goat show added to the fair roster to try and increase awareness of dairy goats and goat milk.

  14. #14

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    The numbers quoted are definitely breed averages. Not to mean that they aren't useful but they are also not what's important.

    What's important are YOUR animals. Find yourself a buck that's from a doe that has good production with high levels of components. If you put him on more 'normal' does - - - well the offspring will have better production - - - repeat!

    For cheese making components are king.

    What's interesting is that according to North American records an Alpine wins for milk volume (ie NOT a Saanen although Saanen as a breed generally produce higher levels of milk).
    So perhaps what you need to be looking for is what breeding is available where the temperament is good, conformation isn't extreme AND the does have at least acceptable production numbers.

  15. #15

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    I would suggest that you focus on the goats and milking buying your feed until you get your nutrition and your milking working well. That's already a pile of work without adding all the feed making stuff.

    Nutrition is king for milk production!!

    Re: your cheese making I have a suggestion but you would need to be reasonable fluent in German to make it work. I looked to where I could find some kind of a systematic cheese making education that wasn't just book stuff nor just working in the cheese room and found that but the instruction is only in German. If the information is of interest I am happy to post just understand that this is an English list so don't want to suggest something that has little likelihood of being useful!

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