Alchemy Acres
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Last month, we digressed a bit and discussed the acquisition of a livestock guardian dog. But as we promised, this month, we're going to finish our discussion of the finances of "goating". This is the third of three articles on the financial aspects of goatkeeping. Should you have missed the first two articles, you may find them in our archive. So far, we've discussed the efficacy of buying the finest livestock you can afford, as this will ultimately increase the value of your overall product(s). We've also discussed how to market your product(s). This month, we're going to cover the topic of "how to turn your milk into money".

The most obvious way to utilize your milk, is to feed it to your family. For every gallon of milk you don't have to buy at the store, you can figure your doe has earned $3 (the average price of a gallon of cow's milk at the grocery store). That's also $3 you didn't have to earn at your job, and $3 on which you don't have to pay tax. Do not underestimate the value of this product or neglect to count it as income produced by your goatkeeping venture.

Sadly, many people dispose of their excess milk as waste, and never consider that they're literally throwing money down the drain. There are many valid schemes for turning milk into cash, of which I'll mention a few here. First, consult your state laws so that you do not run afoul of the regulatory authorities. Some states permit the sale of small amounts of milk to consumers at your farm. Most do not. Assuming this is the case, there are still a lot of avenues for you to profitably use your surplus milk. You can always turn the milk into something else - soap and fudge come to mind. You can also turn the milk into meat. Nearly everything thrives on goats milk. Purchase a market lamb or calf or hog. You can usually get one fairly reasonably in the Spring when your fellow farmers have a flush of youngsters. Any of these animals will fatten up nicely on the surplus goats milk. In the late Fall, you can then sell that "fatted calf" on the hoof, or you can haul him to a local slaughter house and keep the meat for your own family's consumption. What we have done in the past is to keep half the meat, and sell the rest. You'll never have difficulty finding customers for this most wholesome product, and the meat is truly ambrosia (food of the gods). If you've never had home-grown meat, you're in for a real treat. After you subtract the cost of feeding the steer/hog/sheep (this should be minimal if you kept it on summer pasture) and the cost of slaughter, you should come out with a cash profit. The meat that you keep for your own family's consumption is also to be included in the income generated by your doe. After all - its money that you dont have to earn or pay taxes on.

If you don't wish to fatten some meat, you can still profitably use your milk. As I mentioned in the preceeding paragraph, nearly everything thrives on goat milk. Make a trip to some local veterinarians. They get sick animals into their clinics, and some of these animals desperately need milk. Offer these vets your surplus milk at a reasonable price. I have a deal with my veterinarian. I keep her freezer stocked with frozen goats milk. As she uses it, she credits my account with $3/gallon. That benefits both of us. My vet bill isn't nearly so high, and she has more happy customers. Talk with some local horsemen. Occasionally, a mare foals without producing milk. You can sell your milk to the horse people for $5 per gallon. That foal is usually worth big bucks, and the money spent on milk to keep that baby alive is "chump change". Llamas also may not have enough milk to feed their babies, so become acquainted with your local llama coop. They, too, will welcome a source of wholesome milk. If you have a zoo or game farm/preserve in your vicinity, let the keepers know you have goats milk for sale. Sooner or later, they will beat a path to your door in search of the life-saving product you can supply. Our does have fed horses, llamas, deer, as well as the more mundane dogs and cats. Speaking of the mundane - have you ever checked the price of Esbilac (bitches milk)? That stuff is EXPENSIVE. A dog breeder with orphaned pups will be thrilled to pay you $5/gallon for a product that is better (and a whole lot cheaper) for his puppies than is the Esbilac. You just have to let people know that you have this marvelous product. You can't generally keep your light under a bushel and expect to make any sales. Just be certain that you have a wholesome, quality product. Every smidge of milk on our farm is pasturized and handled as if I were going to drink it myself. That way I know it will be a wholesome source of nutrition for any struggling baby animal.

Last, but certainly not least, you have one other valuable product. I'm referring to the colostrum produced by your does at their time of kidding. Our does produce at least a gallon of top-quality colostrum when they kid - usually two or more. Of course, the first priority is to get a sufficient quantity of colustrum into my own newborn kids. After all, those kids are the major product on my farm. But I'll usually have anywhere from 2 quarts to a gallon of colostrum left over. Some is frozen and kept for an emergency here on the farm. But I always have a bunch left for others. All colostrum is heat-treated and then is frozen in 8 ounce yoghurt containers. We sell the colostrum for $5/ 8 ounce container. Let's say you have 5 does, and each one gives you 1 quart of surplus colostrum (this is a conservative estimate). That is a clear profit of $120 (4 -8 oz containers x $5/container x 5 does). You make a tidy profit, and your customer saves the life of a valuable animal. You can feel good about this.

I'm sure I have't exhausted the ways by which you can turn your surplus milk into a usable product or cold, hard cash. Your goats will really do right by you if you give them half a chance. Your goat-keeping enterprise can be very rewarding - both psychologically and financially.

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Welcome PageDescription of Dairy HerdWhat's New at the Site?Crafts and Nifty StuffAlchemy's MenagerieTip of the MonthPrevious Tips of the MonthOther Resources of Interest