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Goat milk--is the flavor impacted by a buck being nearby?

 
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Goat milk can taste...um....goaty. Compared to cow or sheep milk goat milk isn't very tasty. (I've only had sheep yogurt and cheese, but those taste SO MUCH BETTER than goat products, that I have to assume that sheep milk is yummier, too). Once, at the grocery store, I heard that the off-flavor in goat milk is caused by the musk of the buck. Is this true? If there's no stinky bucks around, how much better does the goat milk taste?
 
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There are a few things that affect how a goat's milk will taste.

Some goats have tastier milk than others. Some breeds have mild-flavoured milk, where as others have more strongly-flavoured milk. Individual goats within these breeds have different flavours to their milk as well.

What the goat has been eating will change the flavour of the milk too.

I haven't noticed the taste change when we've had a buck around our does. A lot of people do notice this though.

How fast the milk has been chilled will also affect the taste. Commercial milk is processed in large amounts, and doesn't cool down as quickly as it would if it were just one jar surrounded by cold water or ice bricks.

The length of storage time will also change the taste. These days for most of the year I don't do anything special to chill our milk, I just put it in an unheated room and we drink it within 24 hours. Goats milk at the shop has been kept for longer than this.

Pasteurisation will also change the taste of milk.
 
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Kate Downham wrote:

I haven't noticed the taste change when we've had a buck around our does.



Well no, you wouldn't!  You've got a buck around your does, the whole place stinks of him, you're not going to notice the milk tasting of it too!  Hasten to add I rather like the smell of a handsome male goat at this time of year...  
 
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I currently have 3 Nigerian does for milking. I opted for Nigerians because the breed has a reputation around here of producing better flavored milk.

Kate is right on the mark about the many reasons for off flavored milk. Goat breed. Individual goat. What they eat. How quickly the milk is chilled. How long it is stored and at what temperature. Whether or not it has been pasteurized. But I'd like to add cleanliness to her list. Milking into a dirty pail or letting dirt and hair fall into the milk can affect its taste too. Personally I like to milk into a glass or stainless steel receptacle. No plastic or aluminum.

In the past I never noticed having the buck nearby affecting the flavor. But Hester makes an excellent point. If you're use to the goat smell, you may not notice it in the milk. My own buck lived with the does until recently. We never noticed a goaty taste to the milk, but we had company last month who tried our fresh goat milk, she remarked about how goaty it tasted compared to cow milk. Oooooo. Lightbulb went on inside my head....time to make different living arrangements for the buck. While the goatiness obviously wasn't bothering us, it surely would affect my ability to use the excess goat milk for trading. So Francis The Goat now lives in the back pasture.

By the way, sheep milk is rich and sweet. Mine don't produce much at a milking, so we collect it for making cheese. The little I collect goes into the freezer and when I have enough I'll make cheese. Sheep milk freezes nicely for cheese making.
 
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We've had a buck come and stay with our doe twice in her life. We kept the buck and the doe in a separate barn and the doe came to her own stable for milking. We didn't want the milking station or the doe's home smelling "bucky". Of course the doe smelled, because she lived with the buck for those few months and there was a slight "goaty" taste in the milk for a while. It wasn't as strong as it is in store bought goat milk or cheese, but it was clearly noticeable.

 
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When I drink raw goats milk within a day I don't taste goat, the longer you store It the stronger the taste.
I don't mind the strong taste, but if you do, make kefir from the milk, all the goaty taste and smell is gone...


 
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Su Ba wrote:Kate is right on the mark about the many reasons for off flavored milk. Goat breed. Individual goat. What they eat. How quickly the milk is chilled. How long it is stored and at what temperature. Whether or not it has been pasteurized. But I'd like to add cleanliness to her list. Milking into a dirty pail or letting dirt and hair fall into the milk can affect its taste too. Personally I like to milk into a glass or stainless steel receptacle. No plastic or aluminum.



Ah, yes, I forgot to mention that so thank you for pointing it out! I always brush the udder off first to try and stop stray hairs etc falling into the bucket, and then I strain the milk through cheesecloth as soon as it's milked. I use clean glass jars for storage and a clean stainless steel bucket for milking. I sterilise them with heat. I think these things help a lot. Also milking the first two squirts away from the bucket will get rid of anything bad that might have found its way into the teat.
 
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Simon Allins wrote:When I drink raw goats milk within a day I don't taste goat, the longer you store It the stronger the taste.
I don't mind the strong taste, but if you do, make kefir from the milk, all the goaty taste and smell is gone...




That is our experience too. The longer you store it the stronger the taste. Our daughter doesn't like any "goaty" taste in her milk so she only drinks our goat's milk if it's very fresh, less than 8 hours  from milking. Our son, who is otherwise extremely picky, doesn't mind drinking goat's milk even after 3 days (go figure!).

I've also noticed what Simon Allins said about making kefir. I make "viili". That's a Finnish word, I'm not sure about the correct translation... It's not yoghurt, but a bit similar in texture, just more "stretchy" and slightly more sour. There is no goaty taste in our viili. Even our guests have not been able to tell it was made from goat's milk, they thought it was "regular" viili from cow's milk.

 
Kate Downham
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I make viili too! It is not very well known here in Australia, but I managed to find some powdered culture on ebay and now just keep making new viili from the last batch of it. I use the raw goats milk straight after milking so it's still warm from the udder, add a bit of viili to the jar, shake it, and then it turns thick and lovely just at room temperature most of the year. So tasty and not goaty at all, and so easy to make. I even used it as a cheese culture when I wasn't making kefir.
 
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I think that the breed of goat has a significant impact on the taste of the milk. I have Alpines, and I think you could put their milk with a couple of different brands of cows milk, and you'd have a hard time picking which was from the goat.
 
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When we had goats, for fifteen years, with a buck around and all Alpines, we were off grid with no refrigeration so we drank the milk fresh and what we didn't drink was made into soft cheeses and otherwise used for baking and feeding dogs and cats.

The fresh milk was almost always sweet and had no goaty flavor most of the time even though the buck definitely had an aroma...occasionally they would get into a patch of wild garlic and the milk would be that flavor.

I nursed each of our sons for a year and a half and they were weaned onto goats milk exclusively.

Our youngest son says he can't stand the smell of goat milk to this day.  When his son needed a milk supplement he tried canned goats milk...his son could tolerate it but dad could not stand the smell Our other son was able to find a supply of fresh goats milk for his child and the whole household was drinking it with no problem.

It could be that at the time we were all just used to any odor that was there...I had some goat cheese more recently that I thought tasted too much like a goat.  Not a buck smell/flavor but definitely an 'animal' taste.



 
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The first goat I ever had, about 28 years ago, was a small scrub goat, about the size of our black lab at the time. She gave nearly 1/2 gallon of milk a day. The reason we got this little milk wonder is because I was working full time with my (then) husband, and our daughter couldn't tolerate any cow's milk products. The soy products available were either too expensive or just not liked by our daughter, so I decided to add the goat. My husband told me, up front, that goat's milk is nasty and he would never drink it. Our daughter thrived on the milk, and I enjoyed it as well, finding no odd smells or tastes. As for hubby? He never knew that I quit buying milk at the store - just kept refilling the jug from the goat! Of course, there were no other goats around (she had the dogs for company though), and my personal milking tasks always include cleaning up under the goat before starting (brush loose hairs away, wash and dry the udder before starting), as well as chilling the milk immediately.

I now have Mini-Nubian goats AND a buck. He is nearby, but not currently WITH the ladies. Only one still has milk, and hers is delicious, with no goaty flavor or smells (again, as mentioned, may be due to having become used to Handsome's 'perfume'). Looking forward to spring and new kids, because the other doe gives milk with much more cream in it!

As for feed making a difference:
The scrub goat received regular cow 'sweet feed' and alfalfa hay plus all the yard clean up she would do.
My current goats are on a 'goat feed' that consists of pellets formulated for goats as well as some kind of sweet feed, grass hay, browse from our mountain and alfalfa pellets, plus a goat loose mineral.

FYI - for those milking into a pail or other open container - I've discovered that the key to keeping ALL debris out of the milk at the time of milking is to use a nut butter bag (the mesh bag made to use for extracting nut milk) fastened over my pail. It pre-strains the milk as it arrives, then I remove it to use a milk strainer in the house before chilling. No more hair in the milk!

Next paycheck, I'm investing in materials to make my own milking machine - arthritis is not helping with my daily task.
 
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so the only thing i have to add to this discussion is i convert my morning milkings into whole buttermilk. I originally got the culture from an organic bottle of buttermilk from the store. Now i pour about 1/4 cup from the previous batch into the morning milk (glass mason jar) and than put it into a container with cold water on the counter to bring the milk down to more like room temperature. than it goes into the fridge the next morning when i start making the next batch. I have on average 3-5 quarts of this whole buttermilk in the fridge. so by the time i get to drinking it its about 5 days old. I notice no off smell or anything. I actually prefer it to be aged a few days anyways.

btw i have a very smelly buck in with my girls.

edited to add
I seem to not care a hole lot for non fermented milk. And i am often amazed at what non fermented milk tastes like haha
 
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