Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Say Chevre!

Dove Song Dairy
According to the USDA, the goat industry in the U.S. is growing.  Internationally goats and goat’s milk are very popular; in fact, goat’s milk is the most consumed milk in the world.   There are over 210 breeds of goats and approximately 450 million goats worldwide, with the majority of the population in Asia and the Mid-East.

Last year, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, there were about 63,500 goats in Pennsylvania  and about 15,000 of those goats were dairy goats.  The majority of the goat milk produced in the U.S. is utilized for cheese production.  Goat milk is well-suited for cheese production because it is slightly higher in fat content than cow’s milk. The higher fat content increases the amount of cheese that can be produced per gallon of milk. 

Female goats – does or nanny goats –produce milk after giving birth.  Goats are seasonal breeders, like deer, that go in heat in the fall and have their babies in the following spring.  The does will produce milk for an average of 284 days with peak production occurring 4 to 6 weeks after giving birth, so farmers usually need to process a large flush of milk in spring.    

There are six major dairy goat breeds: Saanen, Nubian, Toggenburg, LaMancha, Oberhasli, and Alpine. Average milk production from the 6 main breeds ranges from 1,820 to 2,577 pounds per year!  Some Saanen and Alpine goats have been known to produce up to over 5,000 pounds of milk.

A goat’s diet can have a big impact on the flavor of the cheese.  Goats are good browsers and can select high-quality plants they need for a balanced diet.  The type of plants they choose to eat can affect the taste and quality of the cheese.  This allows farmers to produce unique cheese flavors by planting specific forages out in the pasture.

Sources: PSU Ag Alternatives,  USDA The Goat Industry, Florida A&M Goat Facts

Support Your Farmer:
LEHIGH VALLEY:  Stryker Farms is a 47-acre pasture-based livestock farm situated between the Lehigh Valley and Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Their farm operates on the principle that all animals are entitled to fresh air, sunshine and plenty of open space. They produce goat meat, raw goat milk, cheese, and yogurt as well as heritage breed pork, and pastured eggs.  They hope you will visit the farm and see what they're all about!  

BERKS: Dove Song Dairy, is an old-fashioned family farm located in the rolling hills of Berks County. Their farm, which dates back to the colonial era, uses a modern-day milking facility they designed to ensure quality conditions for their milk and comfort for our animals. Their 200 goats, made up of mostly Alpines and LaManchas are individually named and enjoyed by friends and family alike. Dove Song Dairy is located in Bernville and produces certified raw goat milk, goat milk soap, and artisan goat milk cheeses. 

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