When I first started exploring the idea of a dairy source for my backyard homestead, I looked into goats. Please remember, I only had a small space. I had close neighbors, and it was not legal where I lived.
Though I was purchasing a gallon of raw cow milk per week from a local cow owner, I saw the work that goes into owning a bovine. Even if I had the place for a cow, I am a small person and cows can playfully toss that head around and knock you down. (Ask me how I know.) My husband was not interested in helping me with a cow anyway. But there is another sad fact about cow owning that makes it difficult. A cow’s poop is wet like a horse’s poop. Wet poop attracts flies. I visited many farms that had cows. Several of them went to great extremes to keep the fly population down. They broke up the poop to allow it to dry, and they even allowed chickens to pick through the piles to eat any fly larvae. One retired lady that I knew actually went out and shoveled it up several times per day. None of this changed the fact that while sitting and visiting in farm kitchens all over the county, we were swatting flies while we made bread or cheese together. I knew that I could not talk my husband into that.
I also learned that chickens have wet poop. So horses, chickens and cows all attract lots of flies. So chickens had to be kept away from the kitchen, off the porch and cleaned up often to keep the neighbors from complaining.
Now for goats and rabbits. They have dry poop and if kept on litter like straw or wood chips. There are very little flies. So as long as I kept the litter dry or raked up, there was nothing that any of my neighbors could complain about. Except maybe noise.
So while visiting the local famers I noticed that the miniature Nigerian goats, almost never made a peep. The other breeds were chatty or just plain noisy. In their defense, they seemed more friendly and were seeking attention. The Nigerian is happy to be left alone. Now, I know that there are exceptions to every rule and each goat owner will defend their favorite breed, but my research was unbiased. Because I did not own a goat yet and had no particular favorite.
I also did taste tests all over the county and found that my favorite tasting goat milk came from the Nigerian. It is probably because of its higher fat content. I have also tasted milk from some of the larger Nubians that comes in at a very close second. I also found that when a Nigerian buck is used with some of the other large dairy goat breeds to create a medium sized doe, her milk is also very tasty, but like their larger mommies, they can be chatty.
I now have my quiet Nigerian doe Bambi who gives me 5-6 cups of milk per day. Her pure white, sweet milk makes wonderful chevre, yogurt and ice cream. But we especially love to drink it. It tastes much better than any milk at the store, and it is sweeter than raw cow milk.
Now that I have moved to a property in county island, I have two incredibly noisy Nubian girls. Bella and Elsa. They are waiting to become old enough to breed and they will then give milk.
I am hearing from some very particular Nubian owners that there are ways to manipulate the taste of the milk. This can be done with herbs and other natural food sources. I am beginning to study this so that I can be ready to supply my young ladies with this type of food. Originally, they were obtained with the idea of cheese making, but who knows? Maybe we will be drinking their milk as well.
Stay tuned as Bella and Elsa grow up and start dating.