Taste Test : Beating an Old Horse

Don’t start screaming …it’s just a metaphor . I realize a title like that sounds aweful coming from someone who cares for and respects his herd , and read by others of the same disposition . But really , to anyone who has been in the business of drinking goat milk , or to anyone who is trying to sort out the whole , sorted goat milk taste controversy , the topic has been ‘beaten ad nauseum !’ Anyone who read my blog TASTE TEST learned of my disappointment at the first taste of Babies’ milk . It was ‘goaty ‘ , VERY goaty . [ If I recall correctly  I likened it to dishwater !] I also stated my surprise that I had not come across any information about milk taste when I was researching goats , prior to my first purchase . After tasting that first batch of milk , I read everything I could find about the taste of goat milk and what could affect its’ flavor . Many possibilities were discussed , by many authors , of many backgrounds . A reoccurring theme evolved ; one that I could relate to as I had had  my intact buck running with my doe and her kid [only because I could not keep him out ] . There was a very large percentage of goat owners and breeders who held the opinion that a buck nearby would taint the taste of the does’ milk . There was a large percentage of the ‘university research ‘ community that held that a buck with or near a doe would NOT put a does’ milk ‘off ‘. There was a small percentage of the university research that I found that stated it wasn’t clear whether a buck could affect a does’ milk . I had made my own observations about my goats , particularly the doe , after I had introduced the buck to the pair . Prior to having the buck ,Babies , my doe , was very attentive to Primus, her kid . She allowed him to nurse frequently and on demand , and there was a rapport between the two . When they weren’t in close proximity they stayed in constant vocal communication . Also , she did not smell like a goat . Neither one of them had a smell at all . Even my dog who gets bathed has a smell of his own . When I first introduced the ‘buck’ to my pasture there was a stand off , followed by a display of hierarchy ,I suppose , as Babies got defensive of her kid and Houdini ,the buck , challenged her . They reared up and began a head butt contest that had me yearning for Tylenol . Several times early on I got between them and forced Houdini away .I don’t know if this was the right thing to do ,but, Houdini was a beast compared to Babies and I was concerned for her safety . After three or four times of me grabbing him by the horns and putting him where I wanted him , he would back down whenever I came to her aide . It was clear early on that she wanted nothing to do with him and that she would  ‘ go to the mat ‘to prove it . For several weeks Houdini played with Primus and , for the most part , stayed away from Babies . Then I started to notice that Houdinis’ smell was getting stronger and he started to hang on Babies again . Now , however , she didn’t fight him off . After about a week of his company she clearly was denying her kid milk and company . Shortly after that I noticed that Babies began to smell like Houdini .Primus , who would ride Houdini and ‘wrestle ‘ him ,coming in close physical contact in other words , did not . I started to get concerned that the buck , who was now also lip curling and blatting , and slobbering and peeing on his face , [RUTTING!!!] had put Babies off nursing .At this time Houdini got serious about ‘being with Babies’ and he would chase her relentlessly while she balled louder and louder . I would run into the pasture and take him off of her . It was quite interesting to see her reaction . Houdini would walk off all dejected and Babies would come to me and rub herself along my legs and then just stand there and we would stare into each others’ eyes . I felt she was clearly trying to say ‘thank you’ . I tried in vane to keep a fence that would keep Houdini out of Babies’ pasture and eventually gave in . He went over , under , and eventually , through ! He broke boards and eventually broke the weld on galvanized fencing , leaving a goat hole in an otherwise intact fence ! Babies udders were getting smaller , she was running a good part of the day to keep away from a lovesick buck and Primus was running behind them . Mom and kid expending all that energy. Kid not getting the milk he needed , and mom losing the calories she needed for lactation . When I found someone to take Houdini , I reluctantly parted with him .For about the next three days ,mom and kid went about their business quietly grazing . It was peaceful in the pasture but it wasn’t right . Babies still smelled like a buck and there was no nursing going on . By the end of that week I noticed Babies udders starting to bag out again and she was letting Primus nurse .I increased her feeding again . Primus , meanwhile , seemed to have regained  his energy . He has never been a big fan of pelleted goat food , preferring milk and hay . Now with the milk back in his diet he became his old self again with boundless energy and a million different ideas to turn the pasture and his house into a circus . I began to milk Babies at this time and the first batch of milk tasted like the smell of the buck . She still smelled like the buck but I wasn’t sure if it was from the buck , or if she had just matured enough to have that smell on her own . Subsequent milkings went right into baggies in the freezer for goat milk soap . Approximately a week ago I noticed that Babies no longer smelled like that rutting buck , so ,today I milked her with the intent on tasting the milk . I smelled the milk and it smelled fresh and sweet . I pasteurized the milk the same as the first batch . During the first batch the heating process really ‘amped up’ the ‘goaty ‘ smell , but now it still smelled sweet . I poured the milk into a jar and put it into the freezer for a couple of minutes . when the milk had cooled , I surrounded the jar with ice to cool the milk faster . After a while , when I could stand it no longer ,I tasted the milk . Wow !!! I have real milk !! I have read that the Dutch or Swiss had bred Sannens specifically to have strong goaty flavored milk [ high in caprinic acid] .They like the taste . They can have it . Now , I apologize for the long winded series of events leading up to the conclusion but the variables are important . I am a strong believer that the smell of pheremones from the buck triggered a change in the does’ hormones which accounted for all the changes she went through and ultimately affected her milk . I have been a deer hunter for a long time and I know all about the rutting process and photo periodism , etc. It was an obvious course of events and easy to predict . I DON’T know the relationship between caproic acid and the seasonal hormone makeup of a goat . I do know that I would recommend keeping an intact buck out of nose shot of a lactating doe if you plan on drinking the milk or desire the kids to nurse . For those of you who would be starting a goat herd of your own , listen to the voices of the experienced on this one . Onions could make the milk taste off ,as will garlic . Aromatic herbs , plants , noxious weeds all can affect your milk . And : KEEP AN INTACT BUCK AWAY FROM YOUR FAMILY MILKER ! KEEP HIM DOWN WIND ! VERY FAR DOWN WIND , and enjoy that milk. 🙂

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