What makes Excellent Quality Goat Milk?

by Rose

Often the answer most people give as to why goat milk has an off flavour and/or smells “goaty” is because the buck is kept in the same pasture with the does, however this is certainly not the only reason.  There are certain variables which can affect the flavor and quality of goat milk.

Here are the procedures which we follow at our farm, to best achieve good milk flavor and quality production of milk.

1. First we start with good clean equipment which includes our milking bowls and milk storage containers, anything milk goes into. Each piece of equipment is first rinsed with lukewarm water, then washed with very hot water (120 degrees), submerged in a sudsy soap and bleach solution and then rinsed again. A new filter is used for each milking.

2. We only use milk from healthy animals. (At our farm we believe a happy goat is a healthy goat!  Our goats are treated with the utmost love and care and we believe they give us more milk because of it. They also are free range goats and roam the pastures in tall green grasses, in the warmth of the sunshine for hours each day.)

3. We make sure each goat has a clean udder and teat. We ensure this by strict and proper hand milking procedures. (Each goats teat is dipped in a teat dip of iodine solution and dried with a clean disposable paper towel, then the first three squeezes of each teat is milked into a “strip cup” to assess for any abnormalities like clots or blood (the strip cup milk is not saved for drinking!), then the doe is milked out in the stainless steel milking pail and when she is finished being milked, each teat is dipped again in iodine solution. )

4. We provide proper feeding of our goats;  maintaining ration balance, meeting nutrient and mineral requirements. We try to avoid giving the girls foods that might give their milk an off flavor at least a couple hours prior to milking.

5. We have a separate milking barn area. Our hands are washed  and clean disposable paper towels are used to dry them, prior to  hand-milking (or if we feel our hands have gotten dirty for some reason during the milking procedure, whether they are visibly soiled or not, we wash them again).

6. We ensure fast cooling of the milk by either rapid water cooling or refrigeration after milking.

7. We keep constant low milk storage temperatures, including during transportation to our customers. (During transportation we fill a tub of ice, and submerge the milk to keep it cold!)

8. We perform the CMT (California Mastitis Test) monthly on a routine basis, to all of our milking does. Ensuring a low somatic cell count  or particulairy the neutrophil leukocytes in the milk, ensures a better tasting milk.

CMT: Quality Assurance for Quality Milk

The California Mastitis Test (CMT) is a rapid, accurate, animal-side test to help determine somatic cell counts (SCC). The term somatic cell is used to identify any cell in the body. With the CMT test, the somatic cells that are being measured are mainly neutrophils. Neutrophils are white blood cells that help the body fight infection and are present in increased numbers in the udder when the animal has mastitis. The CMT test was developed to sample individual udder halves to determine the presence of subclinical mastitis.  (Though this test was developed for cows, it is also used  in testing goats).

How to Perform the Test: A small sample of milk (approximately ½ teaspoon) from each teat is collected into separate compartments of a plastic paddle that has shallow cups marked A, B, C and D. (Only A and B for goats, as they only have two teats!) An equal amount of CMT reagent is added to the milk. The paddle is rotated to mix the contents. In approximately 10 seconds, the score should be read, while continuing to rotate the paddle. Because the reaction disappears within 20 seconds, the test must be read quickly.

1.  Clean each teat with teat dip and dry with a clean disposable paper towel. Squeeze out the first three squirts of milk in the “strip cup”, then squirt a small amount of milk from each teat into the appropriate section of the paddle. 1/2 teaspoon of milk is sufficient. (My paddle has a little line that acts as a guide, so I can see how much milk to squirt in the paddle-which is approximatley 2cc).

2.   Mix an equal ratio of reagent to the milk. The paddle is rotated to mix the contents.

3.  In approximatley 10 seconds, read the score while continuing to rotate the paddle. This girl has a negative CMT score!

How to Read the Results: The CMT reagent reacts with the neutrophils, and the mixture thickens or gels in proportion to the amount of cells that are present. High levels of neutrophils indicate infection. To become accurate and consistent, practice this test on animals with a known SCC. (Which is why we test monthly on each of our girls!)

Leukocyte count per milliliter Test appearance CMT score
Below 200,000 Mixture liquid, no precipitate negative
150,000 to 500,000 Slight precipitate, tends to disappear with paddle movement T
400,000 to 1,500,000 Distinct precipitate but does not gel with paddle movement 1
800,000 to 5,000,000 Distinct gel formation 2
Over 5,000,000 Strong gel formation that tends to adhere to paddle. Forms distinct central peak 3

We drink raw goat milk from our farm on a daily basis and because of this we aim for the highest standard of cleanliness, to ward off bacteria and ensure a safe excellent quality goat milk. We do our part to keep things sanitary and the girls continue to do their part to give us rich creamy milk! (Thank you, ladies!)

We  have been very busy selling our extra goat milk and in the last two weeks, our milk has sold out! We want to thank everyone for supporting our farm and appreciating our milking Mamas efforts! (Without you, some of the girls would be unemployed!)

Blessings my dears~ Rose and Smith

P.S. Keep both of our Fathers in prayer- my Father is still getting worked up in Panama City for treatment and it looks like another surgery and Smiths Father is in the hospital with chest pain, high blood pressure, and is going to have cardiac cath tomorrow…