Our girl Flora has had us stumped lately. Remember when Rachel posted about all those goat untruths? You know, where she mentioned how goats aren’t the crazy, acrobatic, aromatic, vociferous creatures as they are so reputed? Well, we certainly stand by all that, but lately we have been struggling with goaty milk.
Pepper’s milk is every bit as rich and creamy as it as ever been; if Pepper was the only goat we had we’d never know that there was such a thing as goaty milk. No, Flora is the culprit here. For some reason, her goat milk seems to be more goat and less milk. I think that breeding has something to do with it. Pepper is a La Mancha – a breed known for their high butterfat content, while Flora is a mix of La Mancha and Saanan. Saanans are to goats what Holsteins are to cows. Holsteins produce tons of milk, but little butterfat. Same thing with the Saanans. They make for great commercial animals due to their high output, but the lower butterfat means a slightly less creamy milk.
I’ve never seen that lower fat should make for ‘goaty’ milk, just less rich. Still, this comes to mind as I try to account for difference between Flora and Pepper and why their milk would taste so different. I’ve supplemented the grain ration they get with black oil sunflower seeds, as this can increase the butterfat content in the milk. Flora dislikes the sunflower seeds and tries to eat around them as best she can, but what she does get appears to have helped.
Additionally, we’ve inadvertently been freezing the milk. We have a second fridge that we put the milk in. If you intend to drink milk raw it has to cool rapidly to keep it safe. This fridge is so cold that the milk can freeze, especially if the container is towards the back. Freezing can cause for the milk to separate when thawed, which I’m sure can also alter flavor. I’ve turned this fridge down a bit, and we haven’t had frozen milk in the last few days.
Lastly, we’ve increased her mineral intake, in case the ‘goatiness’ is caused by a lack of some nutrient. All in all, these three things have seemed to have helped. Flora’s milk isn’t quite so ‘goaty,’ and Pepper’s has continued to taste just great. Which of these is the alleviating factor? I know not, but I see no reason to cease doing any of these things.
The fact remains that her milk still isn’t fantastic like Pepper’s milk is. Now it’s just ‘off’ rather than goaty. I have a few other ideas to try, including getting the poultry out of the goat pen. Her milk started to get ‘off’ once we added the chickens and turkeys. I don’t think that this is affecting anything, as Pepper is in the same pen that they are. Still, I’ll try any superstitious song and dance to get a fix. If nothing improves… well, we may have to face the prospect of culling Flora.
‘Cull’ normally means destroy, as in use for meat. We wouldn’t do this, but perhaps we’ll resign her to a home as a pet or brush clearer. If one of our 3 goats is producing milk we don’t like, that’s a lot. We didn’t start a mini farm because of the bottom line (indeed, we started a mini farm because we’re concerned about big agribusiness’ concern with the bottom line and how it affects food quality and animal welfare!) but at the same time it is an element we have to consider. I love these goats, but they are not pets. Replacing Flora with a daughter out of Pepper or Peony next year may be inevitable (I’m not worried about Peony’s milk; Nubians have high butterfat and are renowned for good milk.) Granted, we have a way to go before we get to that decision and a few other things we can try. I’d like Flora to stay, but you know… some things about having a farm are fun, others are tough. This looks to be one of the tough things.