2

votes

Sheep and goat dairy... always pastured?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 16, 2011 at 6:53 PM

I've been wondering lately what exactly goes into sheep and goats dairy production... I've been buying organic goat and sheep dairy products, but I'm unsure if the animals are simply fed organic grain, or if they are more likely to be pastured, grass fed. It never appears to be clearly stated on the labels.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 17, 2011
at 08:03 PM

Re: phytates in livestock rations: I wouldn't be overly concerned simply for the fact that their digestive systems are fermentation-based while ours are not. There's probably plenty of phytase-producing bacteria in the rumen to mitigate any problems there. As for it being found in milk, do you have any proof of this? Or is it more misguided grain phobia?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 17, 2011
at 08:03 PM

Re: phytates in livestock rations: I wouldn't be overly concerned simply for the fact that their digestive systems are fermentation-based while ours are not. There's probably plenty of phytase-producing bacteria in the rumen to mitigate any problems there.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 17, 2011
at 08:01 PM

You (as well as many others in the paleo community) like to think of the world of animal agriculture as this dichotomy: grain-fed or grass-fed. That's faulty thinking because those are only the extremes in feeding practices. You won't hear me advocating for a high proportion of energy coming from a grain-based ration, and definitely advocate a majority of energy coming from roughage. There's only a significant different in product quality when husbandry practices are quite divergent: CAFO vs grass-fed. Grass-fed vs mostly grass-fed with supplemental grain? Likely not statistically different.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 17, 2011
at 07:55 PM

Goats can digest a good amount of grain perfectly well. They can do this because they ferment all the food they consume and ultimately rely upon their microbal gut colony for nutrition. How else do you think ruminants can eat grass? They don't have cellulase necessarily to break it down, but their symbiotic bacterial colonies do.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 17, 2011
at 07:51 PM

You're nit-picking and not very well, I might add. By trying to draw comparisons between human nutrition and ruminant nutrition, it's obvious that you don't have a working knowledge of the ruminant digestive system. It's primarily based upon fermentation, something we humans do very little of.

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 07:00 PM

I'm also concerned about (possible) high phytic acid (and other antinutrients) content in grain-fed dairy with all resulting consequences. (E.g. there is an opinion that not only grain-fed, but also hay-fed raw milk may lead to osteoporosis.) You are a chemist, aren't you? So you should be aware about this a fortiori.

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 06:56 PM

As for the health effects of milk consuption... You don't seem to be disturbed by the fact that milk from grain-supplemented does contain much less ALA, CLA, fat-soluble vitamins, more LA, etc., etc. I didn't dig very deep into this so far, but I know it's just a tip of the iceberg.

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 06:53 PM

Why it would be less complicated in case of goats? Neither human's, nor goat's digestive tract is a fire chamber.

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 06:50 PM

Further to this, it's the best way to do so because natural food they evolved to eat is optimal for easy digestion so less energy and nutrients (vitamins, minerals, enzymes, etc.) are spent to digest it. Again, what about above-mentioned human lactating mothers? You won't say they need to eat grains in order to provide more energy, would you? I believe nobody here at PH thinks it's just that simple: need more energy --> eat high-caloric food (Double Big Mac with Double Coke is just what lactating mother needs)) ).

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 06:48 PM

Even nowadays there are farms where animals aren't getting any supplementation, there are human populations (e.g. nomad) that totally depend on milk and dairy products as their main food source but slill they are not interfere with animals' natural nutrition. And never had been! - for the many thousands years (or maybe even tens of thousands years: http://daiasolgaia.com/?p=1302).

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 06:48 PM

So I don't think it's really necessary to supplement does, otherwise goats (at least domesticated species) would extinct (as well as the other domesticated dairy cattle like cows and sheep). But they didn't so far. Moreover, all this animals thrive on 100% grazing/browsing and actually are more healthy (as well as their kids) as against their less lucky grain-fed/supplemented congeners. Why would they? More grazing/browsing should be enough too fulfil increased energy needs.

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 06:47 PM

I have little doubt that the same is true for goats, since they didn't evolve to eat grains too. Back to energy needs. Even if (if!) we suppose that pasture can't fulfil the energy needs of lactating does, there are other foods besides grains for supplementation. You wrote that domestic animals had been bred to be capable of producing more milk than is needed by its young (BTW, you also mentioned that your does *are not milked at all until kids are weaned*. Am I the only one who sees a contradiction hidden here?). But that fact didn't change their digestive system.

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 06:47 PM

You draw a parallel between lactating does and human women, let's carry it to completion. I assume, you have little doubt that grains are inappropriate food for humans (at least if not consumed only occasionally, fermented and coooked in a proper way), esp. during pregnancy and lactation if one one doesn't want to deplete her body (as well as baby's) of minerals, seriously reduce the content of vital nutrients in milk, mess up Omega 6/3 ratio, and so on.

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 06:47 PM

I didn't say dairy animals don't have high energy needs. I disputed the statement that they have *extremely* high energy needs. I have no doubt that during lactation they'll need more energy. The question is what sources it'll come from.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 17, 2011
at 02:41 PM

Ok, I'll tackle your idea that dairy animals don't have high energy needs. Common sense dictates they do. Look at human lactating mothers, they typically lose weight when lactating because it is such an energy intensive process. Same goes for dairy animals. Dairy science has shown that nearly all animals run an energy deficit for the first third of their lactations. It's not a matter of farmers being "greedy" and "overmilking" them. My does aren't "overmilked" or milked at all until kids are weaned. At that point, they are extremely lean. This is with supplemental feed. Pasture doesn't cut it.

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 01:00 PM

BTW, do you have something to say in essence?

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 12:58 PM

Where did you see me calling ALL goat farmers greedy and ignorant? (I've also mentioned misinformed upright farmers as you could see, if you red my post thoroughly.) But if you took it on your account, maybe it's not without a reason? ))

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 17, 2011
at 12:19 PM

Call we goat farmers greedy and ignorant is rather childish.

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 11, 2011
at 04:36 PM

Same thing in Russia. Most farmers use formula feed or oats at best. Beets (both tops & root crops) are also very popular, what leads to high oxalate content in milk. So I assume that consumption of (grain- and) beet-fed goat milk may lead to osteoporosis, kidney stones and other health issues.

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on October 13, 2011
at 09:28 PM

'corn fed until proven innocent.' lol!

B6a13fe7674cd7f3c0dc13a9839f8a71

(28)

on October 13, 2011
at 09:21 PM

I tend to agree, high heating milk destroys all the good bacteria from the goats milk and most everything else because it is so delicate. Calcium etc. monerals are still there, but cows gove more calcium anyway, why bother unless its unpasturized?

B6a13fe7674cd7f3c0dc13a9839f8a71

(28)

on October 13, 2011
at 09:18 PM

Water should always be available. during winter in cold climates goats may have to survive in barns. they dont warm up with grains like humans. It is their rumination that keeps them warm, so they actually need grass hay, and a lot of it to survive the cold. A few goats can warm up the barn by ruminating.

B6a13fe7674cd7f3c0dc13a9839f8a71

(28)

on October 13, 2011
at 09:14 PM

Yes grains are fed during the lactation time, so the milk, either for the goats kids, or for us is abundant and sweet. But most milk goats arent fed grain if they arent a. either feeding kids or b. being milked. Most goats are fed good quality grass hay, otherwise they kinda go downhill unless they have several acres of rotating pasture, as goats eat an amazing amount. Oats are high fat grain, so I doubt its part of free feeding. Clean grass hay that is up off the ground has to be available at all times, unless here is green pasture preferably with brush and fresh clean water.

Medium avatar

(12379)

on March 17, 2011
at 08:45 PM

thats a bold statement no nutrition from pasteurized milk and one that I definitely do not agree with

Medium avatar

(12379)

on March 17, 2011
at 08:45 PM

thats a bold statement no nutrition from pasteurized milk

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on February 17, 2011
at 06:12 AM

*Any* nutrition? If you've got some links to info to back that up I'd like to read them.

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7 Answers

2
E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on October 13, 2011
at 08:37 PM

Every farmer I've contacted feed their goats grain, usually oats.

B6a13fe7674cd7f3c0dc13a9839f8a71

(28)

on October 13, 2011
at 09:18 PM

Water should always be available. during winter in cold climates goats may have to survive in barns. they dont warm up with grains like humans. It is their rumination that keeps them warm, so they actually need grass hay, and a lot of it to survive the cold. A few goats can warm up the barn by ruminating.

B6a13fe7674cd7f3c0dc13a9839f8a71

(28)

on October 13, 2011
at 09:14 PM

Yes grains are fed during the lactation time, so the milk, either for the goats kids, or for us is abundant and sweet. But most milk goats arent fed grain if they arent a. either feeding kids or b. being milked. Most goats are fed good quality grass hay, otherwise they kinda go downhill unless they have several acres of rotating pasture, as goats eat an amazing amount. Oats are high fat grain, so I doubt its part of free feeding. Clean grass hay that is up off the ground has to be available at all times, unless here is green pasture preferably with brush and fresh clean water.

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 11, 2011
at 04:36 PM

Same thing in Russia. Most farmers use formula feed or oats at best. Beets (both tops & root crops) are also very popular, what leads to high oxalate content in milk. So I assume that consumption of (grain- and) beet-fed goat milk may lead to osteoporosis, kidney stones and other health issues.

2
Medium avatar

on February 16, 2011
at 07:03 PM

It'd probably be far more likely if the product were from another country, but in the U.S. everything is corn-fed until proven innocent. Just look at the farmed salmon...nothing intuitive about that.

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on October 13, 2011
at 09:28 PM

'corn fed until proven innocent.' lol!

2
Cfccbcf3450ac4919311ded8ef162d49

(2312)

on February 16, 2011
at 07:01 PM

As with other livestock - it's important to know the farmer, visit the operation and ask questions.

When my daughter was raising goats for 4-h, they were most definitely grained in order to put on the mass and compete in the market classes. It's pretty much the same with the sheep, pigs and cattle.

Dairy goats and cattle are often given a bucket of grain at the stanchion while they're being milked.

1
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 13, 2011
at 10:25 PM

Goat farmer here. Mine are raised on pasture, with supplemental hay and grain rations. A dairy animal has extremely high energy needs. It has been bred to be capable of producing more milk than is needed by its young. If one doesn't feed to meet those needs, production is rather low.

I don't know every goat farmer in the US but one can reasonably say that all goat dairy in the US is fed some amount of a grain ration.

1
B6a13fe7674cd7f3c0dc13a9839f8a71

on October 13, 2011
at 08:34 PM

I fed my Nubian goat alfalfa and she got tree branches and bushes ( goats love to eat and will choose bushes and tree branches first, the arent naturally grazers of grass ) and in winter we gave her the highest quality grass hay we could buy along with alfalfa and branches we had cut in the early fall that we hung upside down along our fence to give occasionally throughout winter months. She was fed grain while we milked her, but only about 2 to 3 cups twice a day ( morning and evening milking times). Most goat people dont feed grain except during the milking season, it puts too much weight onto the goat. Alfalfa, branches and hay should be available all the time. One of the most surprising things about goats is that they eat all the time, either chewing cud, or visibly consuming.

Because I fed, milked and looked after her, gave her no medicines or ant ibiotics etc. and also did all the cheese making, yogurt making etc. I did not pasturize her milk.I have never met a goat owner who can stand to drink pasturized milk.

I have not been able to drink milk or eat cheeses like I did when we had the goat. I did not gain weight even though my fat intake was possibly 200% more compared to what it had been.

My suggestion is that every one should keep a milking goat in their back yard.

0
723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

on November 17, 2011
at 11:39 AM

I won't touch upon intensive goat/sheep husbandry cause it would be superfluous considering that we all know it have no advantages over small farming.

As for the farmers, most of them (nearly everyone in my region) "don't understand" that goats are ruminants (although they are browsers, not grazers). The fact that they eat shoots, twigs, some fruits & vegetables doesn't make grains a suitable fodder. Many goat owners repeat today's conventional wisdom that dairy goats need grains to fulfil their extremely high energy needs, you see (you need not look far for the examples - just read the answers above). Of course, they'll have "extremely high energy needs" if you overmilk them! More milk = less nutrition from it (+ undesirable health effects for both milk consumers and goats if they are grain-fed). So the real reason for feeding goats with grains or formula feed is not need, but GREED. Unfortunately, many upright farmers as well as those who keep goats for their own needs bought that high-energy-needs-that-can't-be-fulfiled-with-just-grass-and-twigs BS.

Another reason for adding grains in goats' ration in the course of milking period by greedy and/or ignorant owners is that most buyers (as well as goat keepers themselves) got accustomed to the taste of milk from grain-fed animals. For the sake of justice it should be admitted that there are plants that make goats' milk taste unacceptable for some folks and even somewhat toxic for human consuption. But if one wants to gain easy profit, it's much easier to keep goats in the shed most of the time and/or strictly confine the grazing territory leaving them a small enclosure with nothing more than a few varieties of grass (which they'll exterminate pretty fast - that means goats get a good chance of having hay as a stapple food (along with grain forage) (since it's more convinient for lazy shitheads than supply goats with at least some cutted grass - even in summer)) (needless to say, it leads to lack of nutrients and - guess what? - this provided a "scientific basis" for grain-feeding because those ignoramuses claim that grains are vital for supplying milk goats with enough minerals, protein, etc.) instead of investigating what species from multitude of plants growing nearby his/her farm are affect milk's flavor (and possible toxicity) and in which way. Most likely, it'd turn out that there are no such plants nearby but why take the risk? + no free range means spending less time on goats (while a small enclosure already gives a good reason to label meet and dairy as "grass-fed" & "free-range").

If I missed smth (and I realize that I skipped a lot of details), it is not due to the lack of arguments, but due to the fact that my English is very far from being perfect, as you could see, so writing posts takes a lot of time.

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 12:58 PM

Where did you see me calling ALL goat farmers greedy and ignorant? (I've also mentioned misinformed upright farmers as you could see, if you red my post thoroughly.) But if you took it on your account, maybe it's not without a reason? ))

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 17, 2011
at 07:55 PM

Goats can digest a good amount of grain perfectly well. They can do this because they ferment all the food they consume and ultimately rely upon their microbal gut colony for nutrition. How else do you think ruminants can eat grass? They don't have cellulase necessarily to break it down, but their symbiotic bacterial colonies do.

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 01:00 PM

BTW, do you have something to say in essence?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 17, 2011
at 02:41 PM

Ok, I'll tackle your idea that dairy animals don't have high energy needs. Common sense dictates they do. Look at human lactating mothers, they typically lose weight when lactating because it is such an energy intensive process. Same goes for dairy animals. Dairy science has shown that nearly all animals run an energy deficit for the first third of their lactations. It's not a matter of farmers being "greedy" and "overmilking" them. My does aren't "overmilked" or milked at all until kids are weaned. At that point, they are extremely lean. This is with supplemental feed. Pasture doesn't cut it.

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 06:50 PM

Further to this, it's the best way to do so because natural food they evolved to eat is optimal for easy digestion so less energy and nutrients (vitamins, minerals, enzymes, etc.) are spent to digest it. Again, what about above-mentioned human lactating mothers? You won't say they need to eat grains in order to provide more energy, would you? I believe nobody here at PH thinks it's just that simple: need more energy --> eat high-caloric food (Double Big Mac with Double Coke is just what lactating mother needs)) ).

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 06:47 PM

I have little doubt that the same is true for goats, since they didn't evolve to eat grains too. Back to energy needs. Even if (if!) we suppose that pasture can't fulfil the energy needs of lactating does, there are other foods besides grains for supplementation. You wrote that domestic animals had been bred to be capable of producing more milk than is needed by its young (BTW, you also mentioned that your does *are not milked at all until kids are weaned*. Am I the only one who sees a contradiction hidden here?). But that fact didn't change their digestive system.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 17, 2011
at 08:03 PM

Re: phytates in livestock rations: I wouldn't be overly concerned simply for the fact that their digestive systems are fermentation-based while ours are not. There's probably plenty of phytase-producing bacteria in the rumen to mitigate any problems there. As for it being found in milk, do you have any proof of this? Or is it more misguided grain phobia?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 17, 2011
at 07:51 PM

You're nit-picking and not very well, I might add. By trying to draw comparisons between human nutrition and ruminant nutrition, it's obvious that you don't have a working knowledge of the ruminant digestive system. It's primarily based upon fermentation, something we humans do very little of.

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 06:48 PM

Even nowadays there are farms where animals aren't getting any supplementation, there are human populations (e.g. nomad) that totally depend on milk and dairy products as their main food source but slill they are not interfere with animals' natural nutrition. And never had been! - for the many thousands years (or maybe even tens of thousands years: http://daiasolgaia.com/?p=1302).

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 06:47 PM

I didn't say dairy animals don't have high energy needs. I disputed the statement that they have *extremely* high energy needs. I have no doubt that during lactation they'll need more energy. The question is what sources it'll come from.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 17, 2011
at 12:19 PM

Call we goat farmers greedy and ignorant is rather childish.

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 06:48 PM

So I don't think it's really necessary to supplement does, otherwise goats (at least domesticated species) would extinct (as well as the other domesticated dairy cattle like cows and sheep). But they didn't so far. Moreover, all this animals thrive on 100% grazing/browsing and actually are more healthy (as well as their kids) as against their less lucky grain-fed/supplemented congeners. Why would they? More grazing/browsing should be enough too fulfil increased energy needs.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 17, 2011
at 08:01 PM

You (as well as many others in the paleo community) like to think of the world of animal agriculture as this dichotomy: grain-fed or grass-fed. That's faulty thinking because those are only the extremes in feeding practices. You won't hear me advocating for a high proportion of energy coming from a grain-based ration, and definitely advocate a majority of energy coming from roughage. There's only a significant different in product quality when husbandry practices are quite divergent: CAFO vs grass-fed. Grass-fed vs mostly grass-fed with supplemental grain? Likely not statistically different.

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 06:47 PM

You draw a parallel between lactating does and human women, let's carry it to completion. I assume, you have little doubt that grains are inappropriate food for humans (at least if not consumed only occasionally, fermented and coooked in a proper way), esp. during pregnancy and lactation if one one doesn't want to deplete her body (as well as baby's) of minerals, seriously reduce the content of vital nutrients in milk, mess up Omega 6/3 ratio, and so on.

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 06:56 PM

As for the health effects of milk consuption... You don't seem to be disturbed by the fact that milk from grain-supplemented does contain much less ALA, CLA, fat-soluble vitamins, more LA, etc., etc. I didn't dig very deep into this so far, but I know it's just a tip of the iceberg.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 17, 2011
at 08:03 PM

Re: phytates in livestock rations: I wouldn't be overly concerned simply for the fact that their digestive systems are fermentation-based while ours are not. There's probably plenty of phytase-producing bacteria in the rumen to mitigate any problems there.

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 06:53 PM

Why it would be less complicated in case of goats? Neither human's, nor goat's digestive tract is a fire chamber.

723e9af1560a89e7d8148b386151c15d

(38)

on November 17, 2011
at 07:00 PM

I'm also concerned about (possible) high phytic acid (and other antinutrients) content in grain-fed dairy with all resulting consequences. (E.g. there is an opinion that not only grain-fed, but also hay-fed raw milk may lead to osteoporosis.) You are a chemist, aren't you? So you should be aware about this a fortiori.

-2
C471216c9fb4fcf886b7ac84a4046b49

on February 16, 2011
at 10:20 PM

if the milks been pasteurized and heated i wouldnt buy it...youre not getting any nutrition out of heated milk

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on February 17, 2011
at 06:12 AM

*Any* nutrition? If you've got some links to info to back that up I'd like to read them.

Medium avatar

(12379)

on March 17, 2011
at 08:45 PM

thats a bold statement no nutrition from pasteurized milk and one that I definitely do not agree with

Medium avatar

(12379)

on March 17, 2011
at 08:45 PM

thats a bold statement no nutrition from pasteurized milk

B6a13fe7674cd7f3c0dc13a9839f8a71

(28)

on October 13, 2011
at 09:21 PM

I tend to agree, high heating milk destroys all the good bacteria from the goats milk and most everything else because it is so delicate. Calcium etc. monerals are still there, but cows gove more calcium anyway, why bother unless its unpasturized?

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