When we got the cows earlier this year, it was a huge departure from everything we have done on our homestead to date. We always said we did not want to raise dairy animals due to the time commitment compared to raising meat breeds. But, when our neighbor suggested the cooperative arrangement we decided to give it a try and have found that it works amazingly well. Over the months we’ve had the cows, we’ve settled into a routine with them that works for all of us and because we share the responsibilities we still have flexibility to travel when we need to.
Meanwhile we LOVE having the fresh, raw milk readily available. However we’ve been surprised that the yields aren’t as high as you’d expect from a cow, because the cow is raising her calf AND we are splitting the milk between two families. Then, while browsing another website I read that some dairy goats will produce up to a gallon of milk per milking – far more than we are getting from our cow! Further research and discussion with our neighbor, as well as talking to several people I know who raise dairy goats, and we started to wonder if goats aren’t a viable proposition after all – especially if done in the same cooperative fashion as the cows.
Enter two Oberhasli does and their three doe kids. When the opportunity to acquire them presented itself, we discussed it and decided to add to our dairy production. Oberhaslis are a dairy breed from Switzerland that are lesser known than Nubians, Alpines and Saanens – the most popular dairy breeds in this area. However what we read about them is that they are friendly, docile, easy to handle and that their milk is sweet-tasting and has a milk fat content similar to cow’s milk. Conceding even to ourselves that we must be nuts, we decided to go for it, and though we had to drive some distance to see them, we found them to be just as described. The seller demonstrated milking one while she ate her grain without even putting a halter on and tying her up. She milked about 4 cups of milk within minutes while chatting to us and answering our numerous questions.
The three kids are about two months old already so will soon be weaned. The plan is to sell them and continue to milk the does. We now look forward to making raw goat cheese and ice-cream in addition to the yogurt and cheese we’ve been making to date from the cow’s milk.
The goats are settling in and becoming part of the herd, and we are adjusting to another variation in our daily routine. Life stays interesting.