Fun, way too much information fact: I have always had gastrointestinal issues and very early on learned that I was lactose intolerant. I grew up basically staying away from dairy, which was frustrating because I LOVE mint chocolate chip ice cream. I got used to it though and just accepted the fact that I won’t be able to enjoy dairy the way that others do. That was until we started milking our goats.
When Mark convinced me to get the goats, I really didn’t know what the plan for them was (this is how we roll, make rash decisions, figure out the details later). I knew that they were pregnant and I knew that come spring we would have baby goatsises (kids) running around. I didn’t really realize that we would need to start milking.
Mark and I got started on researching right away. Mark focused on the equipment that we would need (milking stand, milk pails, teat wipes (were teats really what I was thinking they were?) teat dip (what the…), etc. I focused more on what we were going to do with all of this goat milk?!
I was EXTREMELY hesitant when it came to the goat milk because I, like the majority of Americans, had a really negative view when it came to goats/goat milk. I was under the impression that the goats were going to stink, they are dirty, and their milk tastes sour. Once the girls came home I soon realized, they don’t stink, they are quite clean, they hate getting wet, and actually are a bit prima donna in their personality. This made me a little more relaxed about eventually trying their milk.
Goat milk is obviously not very popular in the Western world but world wide, 65% of milk consumption is from goat milk. There are several reasons for this and I hope that this post debunks some of the negative connotations and that people will give raw goat milk a try!
The reason that I can enjoy our goat milk without irritating my tummy is because it is easier to digest than cow milk. The fat content between goat milk and cow milk is actually similar but the fat globules in goat milk are much smaller than cow milk. You can compare this to taking a big bite of steak vs. cutting the steak up into smaller pieces. Your body is going to be able to digest the smaller pieces much easier than it will the larger piece.
Goat milk also contains less lactose than cow milk. Our bodies produce enzymes that help us break down foods, especially sugar. Lactose is simply, milk sugar. Because goat milk contains less lactose, this means that our bodies do not need to produce as much of a particular enzyme in order to break down that sugar, making it easier on our stomachs.
After digging deeper into the benefits of goat milk I also found out that goat milk is naturally homogenized. If fresh cow milk was left on a counter, it will naturally start to separate. The fat will float to the top. We, as Americans, think that that is gross so to avoid the lumpy texture, the milk is processed to homogenize it (make uniform in consistency). The problem with homogenization is that the process can reduce the amount of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals that raw cow milk would have. Goat milk is smooth and consistent naturally, never needing to be homogenized.
One of the most common allergies in children under the age of three in the United States is dairy related. This allergy is due to a particular protein in milk called the S1 Casein protein. This protein is highly inflammatory which is the root of most diseases and can contribute to gastrointestinal and autoimmune diseases. Goat milk has 89% less of the S1 Casein protein than cow milk so most children can handle goat milk without the irritation that they experience with cow milk.
I think that the most interesting benefit of goat milk is that protein wise; it is the closest milk to human breast milk. A human baby starts life anywhere between 7-9 pounds, a baby goat (kid) starts life anywhere between 7-9 pounds, and a baby cow (calf) starts life at about 100 pounds. Cow milk is designed to take a 100 pound calf to a 1200 pound cow, where as goat milk and human milk are designed to take a 7-9 pound baby/kid into an adult between 100-200 lbs. All of my kids that are now fully grown are anywhere between 120-150 pounds. There are significant and very different nutritional needs that calves get from their mother and that humans/kids get from theirs.
When I first tried goat milk I was a little nervous. I know what cow milk tasted like so in my head, if it tasted anything other than cow milk, would I like it? Before we started milking I also purchased goat milk from the grocery store to give it a try and it was terrible. I learned that the mass produced goat milk sold in most stores could have a “goaty” taste due to processing, packaging, and pasteurization. I was pleasantly surprised that our raw goat milk tasted like, well… milk! It was a tad sweeter than cow milk but it tasted great and I couldn’t wait to get started cooking and experimenting with it.
Since we started milking the girls, I have never bought a gallon of milk and we are solely on goat milk. I can now enjoy ice cream (we call it goatsie cream, pictured on the left), we use the milk in our coffee, cereal, you name it; we use the goat milk! Mark and I both have noticed that we have not had the seasonal allergies that we usually get when in Colorado. We suspect it is mainly because our girls are free range during the day so they eat all the weeds and grass and since we consume the goat milk, they are building up our immunity!
Goat milk is chock full of nutrients and I strongly urge everyone to give it a try! Need more convincing? Check out the table below and let me know if you decide to make the switch!
|Nutrient||Goat Milk||Human Milk||Whole Cow Milk|
|1 Cup (244g)||1 cup (246g)||1 cup (244g)|
|Total Lipid (fat)||10.1||10.77||7.93|
|Fiber, Total dietary||0||0||0|
|Vitamin A, RAE||139||150||112|
|Vitamin A, IU||483||522||395|
|Vitamin D (D2 + D3)||3.2||0.2||3.2|
|Fatty Acids, Total Saturated||6.507||4.942||4.551|
|Fatty Acids, Total Monounsaturated||2.706||4.079||1.981|
|Fatty Acids, Total Polyunsaturated||0.364||1.223||0.476|
*This information is for informational purposes only and not intended as medical advice.
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28