By Janet Kehres
Ohio is second only to California in herds of dairy goats. Where there are dairy goats, there has to be a lot of goat milk on the market. Wrong! The state of Ohio only allows raw milk to be obtained through "cow-share" agreements. The process is called that because if you don't own the goat or at least part of the goat, you can not buy raw goat milk. It is illegal in Ohio to sell raw goat's milk or even to process raw milk and sell that out the back door or from a farm market. Goat milk not used at home has to be sold in some other way.
A few dairy goat farmers formed a co-op several years ago in order to sell their goat milk.
The Buckeye Dairy Goat Cooperative Association was started as a marketing opportunity in the state of Ohio. This co-op sells more than 4 million pounds a year of Grade B goat's milk to Fleur-de-Leis plants of Bongrain Chesse, which produces goat cheese in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The only opportunity to join the cooperative is to buy out a current cooperative member. That opportunity happens rarely.
In most cases, the member wants to sell the entire operation- goats, processing equipment, and all.
The Dennis Dean family opened a processing plant near Dayton, Ohio many years ago. Today, Caprine Estates is the country's largest and Ohio's first goat milk processing plant and retail store in Bellbrook. The Dean's started with the co-op, but decided the profits were very slim. Their youngest daughter, Stacey, made fudge and cheese to serve to farm employees. The demand grew and the Dean's decided to become an exception to the goat dairy industry by building their own processing plant.
Goat milk producers get calls from people that have a baby that can't tolerate formula, or they are allergic to cow's milk. But those calls are few and far between the everyday life of a goat dairy farmer.
Research that has been done in Ohio indicates that the grocery stores that do carry bottled goat’s milk shipped in from out of state sell only 10 or 12 quarts a week. The average cost is $3.00 a quart, which the average family cannot afford.
Some producers get a state license to sell goat’s milk as pet food. Its composition is much closer to the milk of most other mammals than cow's milk, and producers often seek out goat’s milk for their feeding program. In this form it can be sold raw and off of the farm.
Bernie and Kelly Kanney, from near New Washington have raised dairy goats for many years. Kelly stated she raised her four children drinking goats milk. Now that the children are grown, they feed their milk to their pigs and calves. Currently, they have three calves named Larry, Curly, and Mo. If someone calls needing goats’ milk they sell stock in a goat. The milk is the dividend.
She shared a story about a time when her husband gave her a ruby necklace for their 25th wedding anniversary. While feeding the goats that evening, Nellie, the goat grabbed the necklace from Kelly's neck and ate the ruby. The chain necklace was broken, but found. The ruby was gone forever.
A couple of years later Kelly received a new ruby necklace that is not worn when feeding the goats.
The goats have separate group pens. The older goats tend to pick on the younger goats (after they have been weened).
Kelly says her first goat was Martha, in 1981. Now the Kanney's have approximately 50 baby goats each year. They sell many of the new goats to 4-H members and FFA students. Kelly enjoys her goats and when they are born, each and everyone is given a name. Kelly can name all of her goats.
Another avenue that some goat producers are attempting is goat milk soap, and other beauty products. Although not widely available retail, hundreds of people with goat herds offer soap throughout Ohio.
The benefits of goat milk are:
It's easier to digest.
Once it reaches the stomach, the protein in goat’s milk forms a softer curd than cow milk.
It is less allergenic than cow’s milk.
It is high in calcium and fatty acids and low in cholesterol.
It keeps skin soft because of the high levels of vitamin A.
It absorbs nutrients and minerals better than cow milk.
People who have used goat soap often brag about it's result on the skin.
People who drink goats milk brag about the superior taste.
Try some goat milk, if you can obtain it.
Who knows, you might like it!