Raw Goat Milk & Herdshares
The herdshare program is full for the 2020 season. Email us to be on the waiting list for 2021 or for a list of other farms in Virginia with herdshare programs.
Advantages of Goat's Milk
Goat milk is an excellent, sweet-tasting milk in its raw form. If you have tried goat milk in the past, I can almost guarantee you that it tastes nothing like the processed product that you buy in the store.
It does NOT taste "bucky" or "goaty", tasting no different than cow milk for most palates.
Many scientific studies have shown that goat milk is superior to cow milk for a variety of reasons:
Goat milk has been used for thousands of years as a substitute for breastmilk, and for orphan puppies, kittens, piglets, calves, and foals, as it is kinder on tender stomachs.
Individuals with cow's milk allergies are usually able to digest goat's milk, as the casein protein responsible for allergies in cow's milk (A1) is not present in goat milk, which naturally has the A2 casein protein.
If you are lactose-intolerant, you may be able to handle goat milk - the amount of lactose in goat milk is lower, and a raw product contains the enzymes and probiotics to help digest it.
Goat milk is naturally homogenized, which means that the fat globules take a long time to rise to the top and you don't have to shake the raw milk like you would with cow milk. The fat globules are also smaller, and so are easier to digest.
Goat milk is higher in calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and Vitamin A than cow milk.
We require that you to take home a free quart of milk to try before purchasing a share or request to be placed on the waiting list. In our experience, fresh raw goat milk lasts at least 2 weeks in the refrigerator before needing to be thrown out. As with all perishable items, and especially dairy products, always keep milk refrigerated, and do not leave the jars out on the counter.
What is a Herd Share?
In a herd share, you purchase an interest in the herd, similar to purchasing stock in a company. You then pay Bees Knees Farm a monthly boarding fee for care and feeding of the herd. In return, you receive a portion of the raw milk (typically half-gallon weekly for much of the year, more in the spring and less depending on supply December through February), and first right to purchase any goats or kids offered for sale from the herd. You can sell your share back to the farm at any time for the full price minus a $10 processing fee.
For more information and a copy of the herd share contract, email or message us. Potential and current herd share members are always welcome to attend the AM milkings to observe the process - just let Sarah know you'll be attending and she'll have coffee ready for you at 5 AM!
Natural Dairy Goat Feeding and Care
March through October, the goats are rotationally
grazed on the farm, and are moved from pasture to
pasture every week. Blackberry brambles, pine
seedlings, vines, and other woody plants are their
natural forage; they much prefer weeds and woody
growth over grass! We feed non-soy, non-GMO
grains and local, non-GMO alfalfa, along with
locally sourced hay to supplement and support milk
Compassionate Herd Management
In keeping with our natural management philosophy,
we do not separate kids from their mothers and bottle
feed them, as is commonly done in the dairy industry.
Instead, the kids stay with mom all day, nursing freely,
and are penned together overnight such that they can
see and touch mom, but not nurse. We then milk in the
morning, and return the kids to their moms for the day.
Believe me - just like you, after a few days, these moms
are happy to send their babies to the 'babysitter' for the
night, and the kids are happy for a yummy treat in their
Bucklings are sold or separated from the does at 2-3 months of age, as they are potentially
fertile at this point. Doelings continue to nurse until they are naturally weaned, either by choice or by mom. This method allows for stronger, larger kids and better immune systems. Kids are handled daily to ensure that they are well socialized.
While this method lowers our daily milk yield by 50%, it allows us to have more flexibility in the evenings (with 3 children between 14 and 18, a necessity!). We can also choose to skip a morning milking occasionally by just leaving the kids with their mothers overnight.
The Milking Process
The does are brought to the milking room - they are
eager to come and eat their breakfast while being
milked. The udder is sanitized, and the first milk stream
is put through a strip cup to ensure that the milk is clean
and the udder is healthy. We milk by hand or by machine
milker on a sanitized milking stand, and milk is filtered
and pumped directly into a stainless steel container. Once
all of the does have been milked, we clean the milk machine
using a 4-wash sterilization process that thoroughly cleans
without leaving a foreign chemical residue.
The milk is then carried to our home kitchen, poured into glass containers and placed in the freezer for 40 minutes for rapid cooling. All equipment is washed and sanitized daily, and deep-cleaned in a manner consistent with standard dairy practices. We test milk quality using different tests on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, in order to ensure clean and sanitary milking practices. See below for laboratory test results for the past 6 months. The does are tested for Tuberculosis and Brucellosis yearly, with the most recent negative test in March 2019. All historical test data is available to herdshare members.