Friday, May 28, 2010

Goat Farm

Goats lined up ready for milking

I had the opportunity to ride with a friend up to an Amish community and visit a goat farm last week. What treat!

The farmer raises Saanen and Alpine goats to have fresh milk for a small raw goat cheese-making operation.
The goats seen above are thin due to being suckled by kids, and had just that day been put back into milk production for cheese.

By law, raw milk cheeses that have been aged at least 60 days may be sold by an inspected facility which has their milk tested to be certain it remains safe.

The man was extremely gracious in showing us his small milking operation, the cheese house and the cheese-ripening 'cave' which was a refrigerated room in the block hillside basement of the cheese house. We got to sample a few of the Colby cheeses he makes, and bought a few to take home. Yum!

Just being in the milking parlor while they (his son and daughter helped) hand-milked 2 batches of 20 goats each, and seeing how easily they handled themselves into and then out of the stanchions, took away a lot of the trepidation I have had about getting my own milk goat. If his 40 goats can be so easy in that routine, so can my (eventual) one or maybe two. Of course, mine will be treated more like a pet that just happens to give me milk much of the year!

Some of the kids just weaned that morning...


  1. I've looked at goats but it's still a 'maybe, someday' item.

  2. Same here, although I have an appointment in July to tour a farm that raises Nigerian Dwarfs, and makes cheese.

  3. If you have goats, be sure to have a minimum of two. They are herd animals and don't do well as as singles. they get very lonely and will become a pest without company.

    You also need to think about the milking schedule and how it can tie you down unless you have a family member or friend who can step in to do the milking for you if you want to take a vacation or just go away for over night. Goats are dry for two months of the year and need to be milked two times per day, morning and evening. If you can contend with all that, go buy some goats. They are very smart, charming, and you will fall in love with them. The variety of cheeses you can make with their milk is endless and satisfying to make and to eat.

    Glenda, also in SW VA

  4. Thanks Glenda. I plan on at least a doe and a wether, and add to does as I have funds.

    Milking twice a day is not something I look forward to doing especially in winter, but there are a lot of things I do because I must, for my own well-being. Thankfully, I have a neighbor who will help if I need to be away.

  5. It will take off a lot of pressure to know you have a backup in goat keeping. When I was milking goats it was in California and not in cold winters. I used to keep a few does but didn't want to deal with a buck. I drove my girls, when in heat, to a buck for service. You might want to consider keeping a doe kid from a breeding and spare the cost of buying a new doe unless it is a special doe you are considering. So many things to think about. Glenda

  6. You got that right... I have pages and pages of data I'm accumulating... from Universities, from Breeders... and friends.


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