Herald JournalHerald Journal, Dec. 1, 2003

Prairie Edge Goat Farm in LP is expanding

By Paul Maravelas

A pair of goat farmers west of Lester Prairie say goat milk and meat are getting to be hot items.

The Prairie Edge Goat Farm herd owned by Steve and Barb Anderson includes 32 does and five bucks. "We hope to manage it into a decent business," Steve said.

The milk and goat meat is popular with Mexicans, Asians, Arabs, and North Africans in the Twin Cities, as these minority groups grow in numbers.

Most buyers want goats that weigh about 100 to 120 pounds at slaughter, the Anderson said.

Mexican immigrants want goats weighing about half that.

The castrated males, or wethers, reach a weight of 100 pounds in about six months.

Though there are small herds of dairy goats in this area, a production herd is unusual.

When the goats are fresh, from spring to fall, the Andersons milk twice a day using a milking machine designed for cows but converted by Steve for use on goats.

All of the Prairie Edge goats are dry now, but all 32 does are expected to freshen in early spring. Next year, the Andersons hope to breed half the goats in the late winter and half in summer, so that some are always milking throughout the year.

The Andersons sell the majority of their meat through a local broker. Their milk is sold directly to consumers for $5 per gallon.

Barb delivers most of the milk twice each week to customers in the Twin Cities. Many prefer goat milk for health reasons.

The fat in goat milk is naturally homogenized, and is said to be much healthier than cow milk, which is mechanically-homogenized.

People digest goat milk more easily than cow milk, and many who are allergic to cow milk are able to drink goat milk, according to the American Dairy Goat Association.

Goat milk also tends to have a better buffering quality, making it useful for the treatment of ulcers.

"More people drink goat milk than cow milk in the world today," according to the association.

Nearby, goat cheese is made by the Stickney Hill Dairy in Kimball, and goat milk is bottled by the Oak Grove Dairy in Norwood.

However, both of these companies bring milk in from large dairies outside of the area. A gallon of goat milk is required to produce a pound of cheese.

Last year, 13 milking does produced 56 gallons of milk each week for the Andersons, from March to October. Sixteen wethers were sold for meat.

The Andersons use a little milk for occasional cheese or yogurt, and they drink some of the milk, but they don't care for the taste of goat meat, which is more flavorful than most, and they don't eat much of it, they said.

The Andersons began with goats five years ago, when Steve's daughter, Nichole, gave them several goats. Steve said he was excited to have more animals on the farm.

"The young goats are hand raised to tame them," Barb Anderson said.

She laughs when she remembers one bunch of kids that came earlier than expected, and were moved into the house for protection.

The 23 goat kids were fed, two at a time, until it warmed enough outdoors to put them in the barn. Barb said the noise before feeding time was indescribable "if you have never heard 23 hungry kids inside a house."

In addition to the goats, the Andersons raise a dozen Angus-Hereford cattle, two-dozen hogs, chickens and turkeys.

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