Goat Milk You Can Trust

As a Mom, I’m always careful to make sure that my family can trust the products we’re using or the food we’re eating. I make and grow everything I can.  And for the rest, I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what is trustworthy!  This is hard work because you need to get past the marketing to the fundamentals.

At Goat Milk Stuff, we work very hard to be a trustworthy company.  This is especially important when it comes to our goats since our goat milk is the foundation of everything we make.

In 2015, we decided to move into sharing our goat milk food with others and so we sought our dairy license.  This license is independent verification that you can trust our goat milk to be as healthy as we say it is. We are very proud of the fact that we are Indiana’s first and (and currently only) Grade A goat dairy and that it independently verifies we are supplying people with the highest quality goat milk from proven healthy goats.

What exactly does it mean to be a Grade A dairy?

There are two classifications – Grade A and Manufactured Grade (commonly referred to as Grade B).  Grade B means you can legally make and sell cheese and gelato.  Grade A means you can legally produce fluid milk products such as milk, chocolate milk, and yogurt in addition to cheese and gelato.

Indiana Goat Milk

We chose to get our Grade A license because, well… we’re Goat Milk Stuff.  And that means people should be able to legally purchase goat milk from us, right?

It takes a lot of work to not just achieve Grade A status, but to maintain Grade A status.

Meet Facility Code.  There are dozens (hundreds?) of pages that describe what is required in a Grade A facility.  When we built both the milking parlor and our Grade A processing facility, we printed out multiple copies of these regulations.  Our contractor had one copy, we had several copies, and the pages were referred to over and over again.  From easily cleanable walls and ceilings to the color of surfaces to drainage, it all had to meet code.  Our state Board of Animal Health regulators were involved from the beginning with the initial plans and came by for inspections to ensure we didn’t build anything incorrectly.

Farm Inspections. All of our barns and the goats are regularly inspected.  They check the health of the animals, the cleanliness of the barn (including cobwebs), and manure management.  They look for anything that could possibly cause a problem with the health of the goats.  During kidding season, they also investigate if we’re having any problems which might indicate an underlying health issue with the goats.

Goat Milking Equipment

Milking Parlor Inspections.  There are two separate groups that do inspections – the farm side and the processing side.  Both groups inspect our milking parlor regularly.  This is where the milk comes out of the goat and goes into the bulk tank where it is immediately chilled.  They are inspecting our temperature charts to make sure that the milk is cooled in a timely manner and doesn’t warm back up again.  They are looking for dirt and milk protein stains on the stainless equipment.  They are looking for flies and anything that could cause the milk to be unhealthy.

Goat Milk Bulk Tank

Facility Inspections. The kitchen where we bottle our milk and make our cheese, gelato, and yogurt comes under regular, intense scrutiny.  That means flashlights checking the drains, the cheese molds, and all the equipment.  We have to use approved acid rinses on all the stainless steel equipment to make sure there is no milk protein buildup because if there is protein buildup, it could harbor harmful bacteria.

Stainless Steel Bowls

Milk Testing.  We send our milk in monthly for testing.  They test for the presence of bacteria and other nasties, the presence of antibiotics, and the somatic cell count in the milk which can indicate whether the goats have any underlying infections.  Additionally on the farm we are required to test each batch of milk to show that no antibiotics are used.

Approved and Calibrated Equipment.  All our equipment must be approved by the state and goes through regular calibration with the state to make sure that the required pasteurization temperatures are being achieved.

Process Inspections.  They also inspect how we make the cheese to make sure we are following proper and safe handling such as wearing hair-nets and gloves and properly washing hands and cheese utensils and milk equipment.  Every temperature chart is analyzed for every batch of product we make to ensure it reached safe pasteurization temperatures and was cooled down properly.

Pasteurization Chart

Product Testing.  The state takes regular samples of every single type of product we make and tests it to make sure it is safe.

Meeting the PMO. The PMO stands for Pasteurized Milk Ordinance and is an entire book on the information you must meet in order to safely make dairy products available to consumers for sale.  It’s important to know the regulations in the PMO and strictly adhere to it.

FSMA.  The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is a law that governs anyone producing food products for human (and pet) consumption.  This law is hugely complex and requires a lot of compliance.  It sets forth the practices and safety plans that need to be followed.

Does that sound like a lot of work?  It is.  Does that sound like it is expensive to comply with?  It is.

Is it worth it?  We think so.

Our Grade A license provides independent verification that our milk is healthy and of high quality.

We have always been completely open and honest about what we do and how we do it.  We have viewing windows into all of our production areas so customers can see where their food is made.  We do Facebook Live videos where you can watch how we take care of our goats.  We honestly answer all of the questions our customers have.  And most importantly, we’ve modeled integrity for our children and taught them that one of the most important characteristics they need to develop is integrity.  I define it for them as “doing the right thing even when nobody is watching.”

Farm Tour Viewing Windows

Whether we have our Grade A license or not, we would still do everything possible to make sure our goats and their milk are healthy.  Not only does Goat Milk Stuff turn it into wonderful products, but my children (and some day my grandchildren) drink our milk raw.

I’ve been to other goat farms where there is no way that I would allow my children to drink their raw milk.  I say that because I know what I am looking for.  The average consumer doesn’t.  Having Grade A certification is one more piece to building trust and knowing that the milk supply is healthy.

I personally know of many goat farmers who sell their milk, cheese, and other dairy products illegally.  It makes me sad to see this because goat milk is a wonderful product and I think it needs to be more widely available in America.  But every time a goat farmer illegally sells their items, it hurts the rest of us who are trying to do it honestly and the right way.

(That’s something else I teach my children.  You don’t have to agree with the law. In fact, you can work to change laws you don’t agree with.  But despite your feelings about the law, you still need to obey the law.)

I hope that everyone realizes when they are buying Goat Milk Stuff items – whether it is soap, cheese, milk, gelato, or candy – we are doing everything we can to ensure that the milk that is used is the healthiest milk possible.  Our Grade A license is independent confirmation that you can trust Goat Milk Stuff.

What are your thoughts?  Does it matter to you that we are a Grade A dairy?




August Giveaway

This month we’re giving away a $25 gift certificate!

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Goat Milk Lotion

I am a big believer in goat milk.  I think it’s wonderful stuff.  The whole reason I got goats ten years ago was because I wanted the goat milk for my children to drink.

Because 0f my defense and promotion of the value of goat milk, many people are surprised by the fact that I don’t add any goat milk to my lotion.

I have a very good reason for not adding the goat milk – I feel that liquid goat milk lotion is not a safe product.

When I first started Goat Milk Stuff, I “spoke” with someone online who was making her own goat milk lotion.  She decided to send her lotion into a lab for microbiology testing.  She was pretty upset when she got back the results because despite her best efforts to make her lotion in a sterile environment and despite putting in the recommended dosage of chemical preservatives, her lotion came back contaminated with nasty microbiology she didn’t want on her skin.

She decided then that she was going to purchase some other goat milk lotions and have them tested without saying anything to the people who made them.

When she got the results back, she said that they came back positive for nasties like staph, strep, mold, fungus, and e-coli.  I kept an eye on her website for a year or so (in case she was lying just to discourage me – cynical, I know), and she never did offer goat milk lotion for sale herself.

Now, I didn’t run these tests myself and I have no idea the conditions under which they were made.  But I do know that everyone of them listed on their ingredients a preservative (although I don’t know how much).

But the end result showed me that (for me) making a goat milk lotion was not worth it.  Yes, goat milk is wonderful for your skin – in soap, where the saponification chemical reaction transforms the milk molecules into soap so it doesn’t grow nasties.  But not in a liquid environment that is perfect for growing bacteria.

I decided against making goat milk lotion because, in my opinion, the risk of contamination and the high levels of chemical preservatives that need to be added to keep the product safe, outweigh the benefit of any goat milk that is added.

I’m not saying that all goat milk lotions that are sold are unsafe.  I do believe that there are levels of chemical preservatives that prevent the growing of unwanted microbiology in goat milk lotion.  But those chemical preservatives are not something that I want to use on my children’s skin.

Over the years, I’ve had many people challenge me on my stance that goat milk lotion is not a safe product.  They argue that it is.  I’ve also had business people encourage me to just add chemical preservatives because I could make a lot of money selling goat milk lotion.

But when I started Goat Milk Stuff, the one thing I said was that I would NEVER make a product that I was not willing to use on my own children.  And I’m sticking to that promise.

So if you don’t want to use my solid lotion, because you’re looking for a lotion with goat milk in it, I can respect that.  I would still encourage you to try our solid lotion, because it’s wonderful stuff.  It may take some getting used to (people always want to put too much on at first), but it does a wonderful job on your skin.

But please know that despite my love of goat milk, I won’t ever be making a goat milk lotion unless they discover a miracle natural preservative.  Because unless that is discovered, I won’t use goat milk lotion on my family’s skin and I won’t break the promise I made.


Which is Better – Dairy Goats or Dairy Cows?

People ask me all the time why I chose to raise dairy goats instead of dairy cows. There are two main reasons – the milk itself and the animals themselves. After owning and milking a Jersey cow, it quickly became obvious that our family much preferred goats. I’ll discuss why we like goats as animals better in this article and why I prefer goat milk over cow milk in another article.

Dairy goats are smaller than cows. An average full-sized female dairy goat weighs about 140-180 pounds, whereas a female Jersey cow can weigh between 800 and 1000 pounds and a female Holstein can weigh 1300 pounds. This smaller size makes them easier and safer to handle. This is very important since my children are involved with the milking animals. It also makes them easier to transport if you need to take them to the vet or to be bred.

Dairy goats are easier to get bred. Have you ever been around a bull? They can be scary and dangerous. Not something that I wanted to deal with, and definitely not something I wanted my young children around. It requires a trailer (which we don’t have) to bring a cow to another farm for breeding. Bucks (male goat) are much safer to handle (although you still need to be careful) and goats can be transported in a car or truck and don’t require a trailer.

Dairy goats require less land and are easier on the pasture. Because they are smaller in size, they don’t need as much land to feed them. They are also able to thrive on weedy pastures and wooded areas. Their smaller body and hoof sizes also mean that they don’t do as much damage to the ground.

Dairy goats have more kids and can have them at a younger age. It takes two years before a dairy cow can have her first calf. That’s a lot of feed and care before you get any milk. A properly raised dairy goat can have her first kids when she is just one year old. And because goats tend to have multiple kids with each gestation, the herd can grow much faster and produce more offspring for sale.

Dairy goats cost less than dairy cows. Your initial investment is less which is always a good thing. And if you raise animals for long, you’re going to eventually lose some. It always hurts emotionally to lose an animal, but the financial impact is less when you lose a goat over a cow.

Dairy goats are more efficient than dairy cows at making milk. You’ll get less total milk from a dairy goat (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing depending on your needs), but the goat will be more efficient at converting feed to milk than a cow.

Dairy goats are cleaner than cows. Cows are much more likely to poop during milking than goats. Which wouldn’t be so bad except that a cow patty splatters, which is gross. Especially when compared to goat manure which is little round balls that are easily swept up.

Those are the main reasons why we rationally chose goats over cows. The irrational reason is that there is nothing cuter and more playful than baby goats. Baby cows simply can’t compare. If I’m going to put time, money, and energy into raising animals, it’s wonderful to be able to enjoy and play with baby animals that are adorable.

I will admit that there are times that I miss the cream that separated off of my Jersey cow’s milk. But as I’ll talk about another time, part of what makes goat milk healthier for you than cow milk is the fact that the cream doesn’t separate.

Those are the reasons we choose to raise dairy goats. There are other homesteaders who prefer to raise cows. I’m glad that we were able to try both animals to determine from personal experience that dairy goats are the right animal for us.

What about you?  Do you have any experience with either animal or have a preference?