How to Find Goat Milk from Local Farms
It was difficult to easily find goat milk only a few short years ago. In fact, only a decade ago, the only goat milk I saw commercially was in cans on the baby formula aisle. Not very appealing!
Now, however, nearly every major grocery store carries one or more brands in the dairy case, in various flavors, and even with nutrients added.
These commercial sources are fine for enjoying a nutritious glass of goat milk in your diet; however, if you plan to do much cheesemaking or cooking with goat milk, the cost of these store-bought cartons can be prohibitive.
For lower cost, or if you prefer raw goat milk, it would be well worth your time to find a local supplier.
There are several ways you can locate these sources of goat milk. I recommend you begin by asking around at feed supply stores, checking state or national dairy goat registries for members in your area, or looking through the local classifieds.
The American Dairy Goat Association has an online directory with links to members' websites. Also, the local 4-H Club may have a knowledgeable dairy goat mentor who could give you a contact name.
When you look at the classifieds to find goat milk, remember to also check with people who have ads selling dairy goats. If they have goats, they may also sell milk, even though they don't currently have a classified listing for it. And, if they don't sell milk, they can probably refer you to someone who does.
You will have better luck locating a local supplier during the spring through fall months. Many small goatherders do not milk their does year-round, allowing them to dry up in the winter to rest for the spring kidding season. However, they may have a supply of frozen milk, which will work just as well.
If you locate a supplier during milking season, you may want to purchase extra to freeze for yourself so that you'll have your own supply for the winter.
When you find a goats milk supplier, you will want to make a few precautionary checks. I would recommend purchasing your milk on-site so that you get a first-hand look at the conditions of the milk's origins.
Look for the following, and in addition, use your instinct; if it doesn't seem like a healthy source for a food product, keep searching!
- First, the goats--Do they appear healthy and happy? Do they have a large pasture, or are they mostly kept in a small area in or by a barn (this encourages parasite infestation)?
- Is the milking area clean? Note--it may not be kitchen-counter clean, but there definitely shouldn't be any manure or other obvious health concerns in the area, it shouldn't smell bad, and it should be separate from the animals' quarters.
- If you're concerned about antibiotics in milk, ask the goatkeeper his/her policy on the use of milk from goats on antibiotics.
- Find out if the milk you are buying is raw or pasteurized. If your supplier sells only raw milk, you can easily follow Home Milk Pasteurization techniques for pasteurizing it yourself, if desired. Also, be sure to inquire whether the milk has been strained to eliminate foreign particles.
- Ask the goatkeeper if the herd has been tested for brucellosis and tuberculosis.
- Finally, taste the milk. Despite common lore, fresh goat milk should not have any "goaty" smell or off-taste. It should taste like milk--period. Off-flavors are the result of poor handling, unclean environments, or keeping bucks too close to the milking area. Subtle differences in the taste of milk also occur from differences in breed and feeding practices. If the milk does not taste right, shop elsewhere. Remember, your cheese or other goat milk products will be no better than the quality of milk you use to make them!
It is not nearly as difficult to find goat milk as it once was, but if these steps don't bring success, don't give up! If you keep networking and searching, you will eventually find someone who knows someone who sells goat milk.
Last resort? Buy your own goats, and never be without goat milk again!
Articles are updated frequently, so check back here for any new information related to how to find goat milk for bulk purchases!
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