13 December 2009

Dairy goats

Dairy goat breeds

Anglo Nubian

The Anglo Nubian is an all-purpose goat, useful for meat, milk and hide production. Whilst they do not have the length of lactation or the quantity of milk produced by the Swiss breeds, the milk has a much higher butterfat content and the goat will breed out of season. This makes them a useful and desirable goat for many tropical countries wishing to upgrade local goat stock. They were introduced to Australia in 1954.


Saanen does are typically long lactating and high producing dairy goats with placid temperaments. An Australian Saanen held the world record for milk production for many years. These values contribute to the popularity and success of the breed in Australian commercial dairies.
Saanen is now the most common goat breed in Australia.

British Alpine

The British Alpine is a tall, rangy, highly active breed suited to open grazing and noted as a good milk producer, with better than average butterfat and solids-not-fat. The breed displays good winter milking with an extended lactation period.


The Toggenburg goat originated in Obertoggenburg, Switzerland, where the purity of the breed was strictly regulated. It is credited with being the oldest known dairy breed of goat and was imported into Australia from Great Britain between 1947 and 1953.
The breed has become popular in Australia with both small farm operations and commercial dairies because of its excellent milk production.

• The Australian Brown

Australian Brown breed was developed in Australia over the 1990's and recognised as a breed as recently as 2006. These goats are of a consistent type, tall and rangy with good dairy conformation and are known for long lactation and ease of milking.

The Australian Melaan

The Australian Melaan is a black goat breed developed in Australia and particulary well suited to the diverse and highly variable local production conditions. The breed, recognised in 2000, is considered hardy, disease resistant and highly productive with an intelligent and placid nature.
Fibre goats in Australia
Australian goats produce both mohair and cashmere.

• Mohair

Angora goats produce mohair; a very long (120- 150mm), lustrous and resilient luxury fibre which is blended with other natural or synthetic fibres to give texture and luster to the finished fabric. Angoras are shorn every six months.
The Angora goat was named after the region in Turkey from which it originated and was introduced into Australia from France in the early 1830s. Numbers of Angora’s have expanded since the 1970s, with the Australian feral goat being used as a base breeding source.
Australian breeders have invested heavily in purchasing the best Angora genetics available, mainly from South Africa and Texas, and crossing it with the Australian Angora. Through this method breeders have been able to select a new type of Angora that is admirably suited to the Australian environment.
The Australian mohair industry was in decline with production falling from 1 million kgs in the late 1980’s to 250 000kg in 2005. The industry is now recovering due to a period of improved fibre and meat prices.

• Cashmere

Cashmere is produced by Cashmere goats and is recognized as one of the world’s premium fibres, being luxuriously soft, warm and light. It varies in colour from brown to light grey to white and its diameter ranges between 11 and 20 microns.
Goats carrying the downy cashmere undercoat arrived with the First Fleet but lost their identity over the years, with many becoming wild. Cashmere goats in Australia have been bred from these wild or feral goats to produce the Australian Cashmere goat.
Fleeces from these goats contain coarse guard hair, which has no commercial value, and a fine downy undercoat called cashmere. While the feral goat may only yield 50gms of cashmere per year, purebred Cashmere goats will yield up to 300gms per year.
The cashmere industry is small and very price sensitive with current levels of domestic production at around 10 – 12 tonne (including hair) per year. Global demand for cashmere exceeds supply which presents opportunities for the industry to develop.

Goat Or Cow's Milk Does It Really Make A Difference?

Goat and cow’s milk are nutritionally similar, though definitely not equal. The main difference is that goat's milk has smaller fat globules. This helps to lessen the strain on a child's immature digestive system. Consequently, goat’s milk may reduce the possibility of allergies, asthma and other ailments. Children who are allergic to cows milk often thrive on goat's milk.

Goat’s milk also has a closer protein composition to human milk. This also helps to explain the low allergy rate. Beta caseins are found in both human and goat’s milk. These have a softer curd and easier digestibility than the alfa caseins that are so prevalent in cow's milk. Goat's milk also does not contain Agglutamin. This is the reason fat globules do not cluster, assisting digestion. On average, goats milk contains more calcium, vitamin B6, vitamin A, potassium, niacin, chloride, copper, phosphorous, manganese and selenium. It is slightly lower in folic acid (1), has less arginine and less sulphur-containing amino acids (particularly methionine) but more glycine than cow's milk (2). Goats also are more finicky eaters than cows – meaning they eat a more varied diet, usually richer in minerals. While switching from cow’s milk to goat’s milk, it is recommended you mix a littleof the cow’s milk with the goats milk to help adjust to the new taste.

Goat's milk enriches intestinal flora and can be used to relieve constipation. Cow's milk conversely may result in constipation in children with a sensitive digestion. Laura Morales from the Even Star Goat Dairy in Lowood (near Toowoomba) says that Goat’s milk is also considered to be less phlegm producing.

If the milk is pasteurised, boiling it will assist in the digestion. Pasteurisation partially dismantles the protein structure. This makes the milk more difficult to digest. Boiling the milk finishes the process and decreases the chance of allergic reaction (1).

Ideally however, purchase 'raw' or unpasteurised milk. This has many advantages. Goat's milk is one of the best sources of dietary fluorine, nearly ten times higher than cow's milk. Fluorine helps build immunity and strengthen teeth and bones. Fluorine is depleted during the cooking process so is only present in unpasteurised milk. The chemical "fluoride" does not have the same healing properties (3) and is best avoided wherever possible.

Pasteurisation also destroys the beneficial bacteria that assist in digestion. These can only be replaced by culturing the milk and is why yoghurt is easier to digest than milk. The proteins are pre-digested by the bacterial action of the souring process.

If goat's milk is not available (or the taste is disagreeable), one ways to increase the digestibility of the milk from the cow is to soften the curds by adding gelatin. This will bring it closer to resembling the soft curds of Goat’s milk and mother's milk . Adding gelatin also emulsifies fat and by stabilising the casein (protein), improves the digestibility of the fat, which would otherwise be carried down with the casein in a lump mass. Vomiting, upper respiratory infections, constipation and diarrhea may also be reduced by the addition of gelatin (9). Use one teaspoon per four cups of milk. Prepare the gelatin as per the usual instructions by dissolving it in half a cup of water (or more). Mix with the milk and drink or refrigerate.

In Ayurveda (Indian medicine), fresh cow’s milk is thought to be excellent for those with a strong digestion who want to increase their weight. They believe it is a sattvic food, meaning that it can help develop Spiritual awareness. On the other hand, they also believe that homogenisation makes the fat in the milk nearly indigestible and causes toxic residues (ama) to form in the body (5).

Homogenisation allows the enzyme xanthine oxidase to penetrate the intestinal wall, move into the lymphatic system and then to enter the bloodstream, instead of being excreted as would normally occur. When this enzyme enters the heart and arteries, it scratches and corrodes the membranes, creating primary lesions or scar tissue. The body then releases cholesterol into the bloodstream in an attempt to lay protective fatty material on the scarred areas. This can result in clogging the arteries (5) (1). Homogenisation also makes the fat and cholesterol more susceptible to rancidity and oxidation (7) and creates trans fats in the milk - these are rigid molecules that are so altered that the body doesn't recognise them as natural. (8) Fortunately goat's milk is never homogenised - another plus for it.

In summary, the deciding factors are - does cow's milk agree with the person consuming it? If not, try goat's milk , if this still doesn't agree, life will be no poorer without dairy. If dairy does agree, ensure a quality product is consumed - ideally organic and non-homogenised. The best dairy products of all, are non-pasteurised! More on this in the next issue.