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Yes, we do. Studies have shown that unwashed eggs do last longer than washed eggs. However, let's look at the results of those studies to put things into perspective. On average, an unwashed egg will last 2 weeks unrefrigerated and 3 months if refrigerated. Washed eggs should always be refrigerated and will last about 2 months. No matter how clean we try to get them, unwashed eggs can still have bits of feathers or nest box bedding stuck to them. In Europe that seems to be acceptable, but we Americans like our eggs really clean. And I don't know about you, but in our house eggs are certainly used much sooner than 2 months!
That's a good question, and one that needs a bit more detail. So click here for the answer.
Another excellent question and one that, again, needs a bit more explanation. Here's where you want to go to find the answer.
Rather than list all the benefits of goat milk over cow milk, we'll provide you with some links that will do just that. That way you can read a little to educate yourself on the basic differences, or, if your the nerdy type, you can research it more in depth.
The Health Benefits of Goat's Milk
5 Reasons to Drink Raw Goat's Milk
Benefits of Goat Milk vs. Cow Milk
5 Reasons Goat Milk Is So Much Better Than Cow Milk
No. We let the goat moms raise their own kids. For the first month the kids are with their moms constantly. When the kids are a month old and eating a significant amount of hay/grass, we put them in their own pen at night, which is next to their mom's so they can see them, milk the moms in the morning, then let the kids nurse for the rest of the day and into the evening. This way we only have to milk once a day and the kids still have more than enough milk to meet their nutritional needs. And the moms seem to enjoy the time alone away from them so they can relax. I raised my own kids, I don't want to do theirs too!
Yes. While there is some controversy among goat owners over horned vs disbudded goats (and I respect the decisions of those who choose to leave the horns), we do remove the horns on the babies before they have a chance to grow. Reasons for this include: 1) Goats with horns get their heads stuck in the fence and can die there if no one is around to free them; 2) Kids with horns can damage their mother's udders by hooking or butting them; 3) Goats with horns can hurt each other or humans; 4) I have many grandchildren and great-grandchildren visiting the farm and I don't want eyes taken out due to an accident with a horned goat. Disbudding is like vaccinating children, it hurts for a few seconds but the long-range benefits are worth it. (BTW, if you're the kind that doesn't believe in vaccinations, I respect that too.)
We vaccinate yearly for CDT. The CD part is for Clostridium perfringens type C & D which is a bacteria that is usually present in low numbers in the gastrointestinal tract of healthy sheep and goats. If, for various reasons, the bacteria increase, the animal becomes sick and dies. The vaccine helps prevent this from happening. The T part of the vaccine is for tetanus. We vaccinate yearly about 1 month before birth so that the kids have some immunity from their mothers. The kids receive their first vaccination when they're about a month old, and the 2nd about 4 weeks later, then a yearly booster.
Taste depends on a lot of factors such as breed of goat and how the milk is handled. Different breeds have different taste to their milk. Saanen goats give the most milk but don't have very high butterfat. In my opinion, their milk tastes most like cow milk. Nubian goats give a little less milk but have higher butterfat. Nigerian Dwarfs give a surprising amount of milk relative to their size and have the highest butterfat of all. Other breeds of goats give various amounts of milk with various amounts of butterfat. Some goats have stronger tasting milk than others. All that being said, each goat owner will have their own reasons why they like the milk from whatever breed they've chosen. One important factor, however, is how the milk is handled. I think it should go without saying that cleanliness is next to Godliness when handling milk. The milk needs to be cooled as quickly as possible after milking to preserve the nice sweet flavor. Goat milk should never taste "goatie". If it does there's something wrong either with the goat itself (for instance, a high worm load will make the milk taste off) or with the handling and storage practices, or you bought it from the store!
I'm asked this all the time. And my answer may offend some. For that I'm sorry.
First, let me say that I value all life, whether human or animal. I was a vegetarian for many years but, for health reasons, needed to put meat, milk and eggs back into my diet. I firmly believe we can do better than the factory farming models where cows are finished in feedlots, standing in their own manure, needing antibiotics to keep from getting sick under those conditions. We can do better than chickens raised in big buildings, wing to wing, living in filth, or pigs raised on concrete in big feedlots or in pens where they can't even turn around.
Animals raised on our farm, whether for eggs, meat or milk, have acres they roam through to find fresh food. Pigs are free to root through their pasture, turn up the soil, eat roots and bugs. Chickens are free to come and go from their coop as they please, to go out and eat grass and grain, scratch through the dirt to find bug delicacies. Goats are also free to come and go from the barn as they please. We rotate pastures so there's always fresh grass and brush to eat and they're not eating where they've pooped.
So the answer to this question is that, although I'm a meat eater, I choose to not participate in factory farming by buying meat, milk or eggs in the grocery store. By raising food myself I know what they're eating and I know they're raised with the kindness, love and respect they deserve as living beings. And, as important, I know how they're butchered. They have one bad moment in their whole lives – done as quickly, and as humanely as possible.
If you're a vegetarian I respect your choice. If you eat meat or eggs, or drink milk or eat anything that's made with milk, like cheese, my question to you is how you can buy those items from the supermarket knowing that you're supporting the inhumane treatment of the animals that provide you with this food. If you can't raise the food yourself, then buy it from your local farmers that raise the animals in a humane way. Vote with your dollars!
The decision to get a goat, or any animal, is not something to be jumped into lightly. Like dogs, they get very attached to their surroundings and their people. It's good when people research all they can about an animal BEFORE getting one. I get calls from people all the time that know nothing about goats or sheep, and now they've got a problem with feeding or health issues, and have no clue. Although I'm happy to help, they might have avoided the problem if they'd been educated first. My advice is to read, read, read, then read some more, about the particular care of goats, or whatever animal you're thinking of getting.
First, you can't have just one goat. They are herd animals and need at least one companion, preferably another goat, or it could be a sheep or horse, something that eats hay since that will be a similar type.
Second, you need to decide your purpose for getting one - pet, milk, meat, or fiber such as an angora goat. If you want to milk and the breed you choose has large teats you can hand milk. But if the doe is a charter member of the IBTC (Itty Bitty Titty Club) you're probably going to want a milking machine. I have a milking system but if I were looking for a new one I'd most likely get one from Simple Pulse. Their 6 CFM system with the oil free vacuum pump is outstanding! They're super helpful folks for newbies who aren't sure what system to order.
Third, and maybe most important, is what you'll be doing to protect against predators. Goats are prey animals and look mighty tasty to bears, coyotes and even your neighbor's dogs. Some of the smaller breeds can even be dinner for foxes and fishers. And please don't consider a donkey as a protector. They do a good job until they don't. I hear so many stories about donkeys that were great with the goats but decided they didn't like the new babies when they came along and killed them.
Good resources for learning about goats are books available on amazon such as Storys Guide to Raising Dairy Goats and Raising Goats for Dummies. Fias Co Farm website on goat health and husbandry is an excellent resource for not only learning, but problem solving when issues arise, as they inevitably will. You might also want to search FB for groups about goats. An excellent one is Successful Goating with Rosie. Very helpful and knowledgeable folks. Goat people tend to be willing to help in any situation from education about their care and keeping to support and information during a crisis.
Also be sure to buy your goat from a reputable source that has a tested herd for contagious diseases such as CAE, CL and Johnes. Insist on seeing the herd's negative test results. A good breeder won't mind.
So, the short answer is that you need to know a lot but don't need to be an expert. Make sure before jumping in that you've talked to goat folks, visited a farm or two, and know what you're getting into so you don't have to be looking for a new home for your animals in a short time. Goats can be like 2 year olds without the opposable thumbs. They are just intelligent enough to get themselves into trouble. They're also affectionate, curious, funny, and totally addictive. As their caretaker you're responsible for their care, safety and well-being.
We would love to have you visit us. We might even put you to work collecting eggs or milking goats! Just call or email us to make an appointment. Our contact information is on the contacts page.
Every one has their favorite breed and will give you 100 reasons why that one is the best. For us it was Great Pyrenees because we have many people visiting the farm and have grandchildren that come on school vacations and for the summer. Pyrs are very gentle when well socialized and are least likely to bite people. Whatever breed you choose, you can't just get a puppy, put it out with the livestock, and expect it to know what to do. The protectiveness is in its genes, but you have to teach it what NOT to do - like no chasing chickens, no playing with baby animals, etc. Some are not trustworthy without supervision until around 2, others mature earlier, and that goes for any breed. If you get an adult be sure it has experience with whatever livestock you have. Don't just get a dog from a shelter and expect it to guard your goats/sheep/poultry etc. Just because it's a certain breed of livestock guardian dog doesn't mean it's a livestock guardian. If a pup, be sure it's from working parents and has been exposed to the type of livestock you have. Some people say you should never interact with a LGD. Our experience is that the more socialized the dog, the better the guardian and the easier it is to work with them. While we don't bring the dog in the house, we do give the dog plenty of lovins', but in their space (the barn and pastures), not in ours (the house). We teach our dogs to be groomed, have their nails trimmed, walk on a leash, get a bath, and get them used to riding in the truck while they're still pups. This is important when they have to go to the vet. These are big, powerful dogs. I can't imagine trying to force a 120 lb. Pyr into the truck for a vet visit! We even occasionally take them to the groomer (like when they've been sprayed by a skunk). They will bond with whatever they live with. So if they live in the barn with the livestock, that's what they're bonded to. They need something to guard and bond with. That doesn't have to be humans.