Got Yer Goat

By: Karla Fetrow

What prompts America’s great love affair with cattle?  It’s not in just the big, juicy steaks they plop down on their platter, or the prime ribs, nor even the steady diet of hamburger.  Despite the obnoxious amount of grazing land needed, which consequently often entails the clear cutting of forests, beef, after all, is and probably always will be America’s choice of red meat.  Sometimes, you just can’t change cultural eating habits.

However, where culture begins to border on fanaticism and a complete lack of common sense, is in the great aficionado tastes for cow’s milk.  Well, what’s wrong with that?  Milk does the body good!  You see the advertisements everywhere.  Milk is necessary for growing bones, beneficial for calcium needs and even feeds your brain those omega fats it so desires.  Sure it is, but does it really have to be cow’s milk?

Sixty-five percent of the milk consumption world wide comes from goat’s milk and it doesn’t have a thing to do with high profile marketing or big budget campaigns.  Plain and simply, goats milk is healthier for the human body.  The issue is both one of biochemistry as well as thermodynamics.  Biologically speaking, goat’s milk has a greater amount of essential fatty acids such as linoleic and arachidonic acid than cow’s milk as well as significantly greater amounts of vitamin B-6, vitamin A, and niacin. Goat’s milk is also a far superior source of the vitally important nutrient potassium.  This extensive amount of potassium causes goat’s milk to react in an alkaline way within the body whereas cow’s milk is lacking in potassium and ends up reacting in an acidic way.

Do you call your child a kid or a cow?  Goat’s milk is more compatible with the human body.  A baby usually starts life at around 7-9 pounds.   A baby goat (kid) usually starts life at around 7-9 pounds, and a baby cow (calf) usually starts life at around 100 pounds. Speaking from a purely thermodynamic position, these two animals have very significant and different nutritional needs for both maintenance and growth requirements. Cow’s milk is designed to take a 100 pound calf and transform it into a 1200 pound cow. Goat’s milk and human milk were both designed and created for transforming a 7-9 pound baby/kid into an average adult/goat of anywhere between 100-200 pounds. This significant discrepancy, along with many others, is manifesting on a national level as obesity rates sky rocket in the U.S.

There is an 89% less chance of being allergic to goat’s milk than there is to cow’s milk.  The most common allergy in the United States for children under three is an allergy to cow’s milk.  If this allergy continues into the growing years and adulthood, finding food products that do not contain cow’s milk can be very difficult.  It’s not just about ice cream and butter, but breads, confections, sauces and soups.

People who are allergic to cow’s milk react to one or more of the proteins in it. Curd, the substance that forms chunks in sour milk, contains 80% of milk’s proteins, including several called caseins (pronounced: kay-seenz). Whey (pronounced: way), the watery part of milk, holds the other 20%. A person may be allergic to proteins in either or both parts of milk.

When a person who is allergic to milk eats a food that contains milk products, the body’s immune system mistakenly sees the milk proteins as dangerous “invaders.” The immune system responds by creating specific antibodies, which are designed to fight off the “invader.” These antibodies — called immunoglobulin E (IgE) — trigger the release of certain chemicals into the body, one of which is histamine (pronounced: hiss-tuh-meen).

So when a person with a milk allergy eats a food that contains milk, the immune system unleashes an army of chemicals to protect the body. The release of these chemicals can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, and the cardiovascular system — causing allergy symptoms like wheezing, nausea, headache, stomachache, and itchy hives.

Another drawback of cow’s milk is lactose intolerance.  Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose. Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy products.  Lactose intolerance happens when the small intestine does not make enough of the enzyme lactase. Enzymes help the body absorb foods. Not having enough lactase is called lactase deficiency. Goat’s milk rarely causes lactose intolerance.  It contains less lactose than cow’s milk and therefore is easier to digest for those suffering from lactose intolerance.

Now, doesn’t that make you want to rush right out and start buying goat’s milk?  But wait!  On the average, goat’s milk costs three to four times more than cow’s milk if you try to purchase it from the grocery store.  It’s a luxury item, or so it would seem.  Actually it’s a food product holding our health at ransom.

There is absolutely no reason for goat’s milk to be more expensive than cows’  milk, except through the simple law of supply and demand   Fewer people drink goats’ milk, therefore less is produced and sold for a higher price.  Goats are cheaper to care for than cows.  They do not require large, heated barns for winter shelter.  Their “special” food consists mainly of molasses coated oats and a minimal amount of hay.  You do not need to strip an area of its trees in order for the goats to pasture.  In fact, if you’re moving into a rural area, and the plot you just bought is covered with brush, weeds and overgrown grass, there’s nothing like a few goats to clean the place up.

The cost for feeding one cow runs around $75 a month.  The cost for feeding one goat never goes higher than $9 a month, and that’s a goat on a premium diet of feed and hay!  The average milk production per day for a cow in peak season is 6.2 gallons.  The average milk production for a goat at her peak is roughly a gallon.  This means you can own six goats and receive the same amount of milk as one cow for $63 a month.  And that’s with pampering your goats, which you really don’t have to do.  A goat will eat just about anything, even your shoe laces, but it’s really not wise to give her a shoe lace diet.

Goats make better assets to small, self-sufficient farms than cows do.  You need five acres just to pasture one or two cows comfortably.  On that same five acres, you can have chickens, ducks, pigs, a small grove of nut trees, berry bushes, a vegetable garden and several goats.  Not only that, goat manure takes a lot less time to decompose into fertilizer than cow manure does.

Goats live everywhere in the world.  You’ll find them in desert areas and in the high mountains.  There are hot climate goats and Alpine goats that have no problem with freezing temperatures.  They are highly intelligent, easy to train, and make good pets for children.

The moral compass of America has been swinging toward organic gardening as an alternate for the massive clear and waste techniques of agri-business.  It has begun rumbling over the factory style treatment of livestock.  But it never says anything about milk; one of the most important products of our lives, a product often associated with allergies, lactose intolerance and obesity.  The various, expensive milk substitutes are not necessary.  Clear cutting for pasture is not necessary.  All that’s truly necessary is changing our attitudes about the dairy products we put on the table and developing a fondness for goats.

About karlsie

Some great perversity of nature decided to give me a tune completely out of keeping with the general symphony; possibly from the moment of conception. I learned to read and speak almost simultaneously. The blurred and muffled world I heard through my first five years of random nerve loss deafness suddenly came alive with the clarity of how those words sounded on paper. I had been liberated for communications. I decided there was nothing more wonderful than writing. It was easier to write than carefully modulate my speech for correct pronunciation, and it was easier to read than patiently follow the movements of people’s lips to learn what they were saying. It was during that dawning time period, while I slowly made the connection that there weren’t that many other people who heard the way I did, halfway between sound and music, half in deafness, that I began to understand that the tune I was following wasn’t quite the same as that of my classmates. I was just a little different. General education taught me not only was I just a little isolated from my classmates, my home was just a little isolated from the outside world. I was born in Alaska, making me part of one of the smallest, quietest minorities on earth. I decided I could live with this. What I couldn’t live with was discovering a few years later, in the opening up of the pipeline, which coincided with my first year of junior college, that there were entire communities of people; more than I could possibly imagine; living impossibly one on top of another in vast cities. It wasn’t even the magnitude of this vision that inspired me so much as the visitors who came from these populous regions and seemed to possess a knowledge so great and secretive I could never learn it in any book. I became at once, very conscious of how rural I was and how little I knew beyond the scope of my environment. I decided it was time to travel. The rest is history; or at least, the content of my stories. I traveled... often to college campuses, dropping in and out of school until one fine day by chance I’d fashioned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. I’ve worked a couple of newspapers, had a few poems and stories tossed around in various small presses, never receiving a great deal of money, which I’m assured is the norm for a writer. I spent ten years in Mexico, watching the peso crash. There is some obscure reason why I did this, tightening up my belt and facing hunger, but I believe at the time I said it was for love. Here I am, back home, in my beloved Alaska. I’ve learned somewhat of a worldly viewpoint; at least I like to flatter myself that way. I’ve also learned my rural roots aren’t so bad after all. I work in a small, country store. Every day I greet the same group of local customers, but make no mistake. My store isn’t a scene out of Andy Griffith. The people who enter the establishment, which also includes showers, laundry and movie rentals, are miners, oil workers, truck drivers, construction engineers, dog sled racers and carpenters. Sometimes, on the liquor side, the conversations became adult only in vocabulary. It’s a good thing, on the opposite side of the store is a candy aisle filled with the most astonishing collection, it will keep a kid occupied with just wishing for hours. If you tell your kids they can have just one, you have an instant baby sitter; better than television; as they agonize over their choice while you catch up on the gossip with your neighbor. We also receive a lot of tourists, a lot of foreign visitors. They are usually amazed at this first sign of Alaskan rural life style beyond the insulating hub of the Anchorage bowl. Many of them like to hang around and chat. They gawk at our thieves wanted posters. They laugh at our jokes and camaraderie with our customers. I’ve learned another lesson while working there. You don’t have to go out and find the world. If you wait long enough, it comes to you.

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8 Comments on “Got Yer Goat”

  1. Some of the people in my area raise goats – perhaps I should bargain with them for some goat milk every now and then…

  2. Azazel, that wouldn’t be a bad idea. Most small farms, especially self-sufficient ones, are open to trade and barter. I’ve raised goats before and like the taste of goats’ milk, but some people find the taste peculiar as it isn’t quite as sweet tasting as cow’s milk. I found if i boiled the milk with a few tablespoons of water and a few tablespoons of sugar, my guests never knew they were drinking goat’s milk.

  3. I’ll remember to sweeten the milk first – I’ve never had it, but I heard others say that it has a bitter aftertaste to it (which is probably why you don’t se much of it in supermarkets…).

  4. I was never fond of milk – cheese yes – milk no. I do remember milking Aubrey’s goats up on the Chickaloon River homestead – must have tried some of their milk then – just don’t recall. Interesting article – keep up the good work.

  5. Kenn, i remember the Aubrey’s goats, up on their homestead. It was Rhonda’s and my job to herd them, and i thought it was a wonderful chore. We’d find a sunny bit of pasture, complete with bluebells and dandelions and sit on a comfortable outcrop of rocks. There we would draw, graze through magazines and dream about the future. We loved playing with the little goat kids, who’d run around, kicking and bucking like they were bad as grizzly bears, and come to us like sweet, squirming puppies when we called to them.

  6. We had goats on and off while I was growing up and yes, the milk is different but I always enjoyed it and never even thought of putting sugar in it.

    In addition to cheese the milk is so good in soap. Great for the skin.

    While I also like sheep for their lower impact and cheeses, Goats really are better for homesteads and can even be kept on 1 acre.- of course you will never have a lawn there, but that saves water too.

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