Certification of Goatkeepers by Big Bend People and Goats, Inc.

Certification of Goatkeepers working in small goat dairies is a service of Big Bend People and Goats, Inc. Certification is intended to assist small producers of natural, unprocessed goat milk and other dairy products to secure and enlarge a market for their products. This is done by confirming that:

+ The milk is wholesome and safe.

+ The milk is of high quality.

A goatkeeper who is certified by Big Bend People and Goats, Inc. is one:

+ Who has been found to maintain the health and well being of the goats under his/her care;

+ Whose handling of the milk from teat to container to sale is hygienic;

+ Whose care and feeding of the goats insures consistently high milk quality;

+ Who desires and works to maintain and improve the quality of the herd under his care through careful and informed breeding;

+ Who desires that all small herd, goat-dairies flourish, and who works cooperatively with other goatkeepers towards this objective.

Certification is based upon 1) taking a workshop for applicants every three years, 2) a visit to the goatkeeper by members of the certification committee, and 3) a favorable vote by registered participants at a regular meeting of Big Bend People and Goats, Inc.. The certification committee will consist mainly of keepers of small dairy goat herds and will observe how the applicant carries out his/her duties. Certification is for the goatkeepers, not for the dairy. There are no specific requirements for the dairy. Size, arrangement, pens, shelters and equipment are only considered in relation to the work of the goatkeeper. If the physical arrangement and equipment of the dairy allows the goatkeeper to do the work properly, there is no other requirement in this regard.

When the certification committee visits a goatkeeper, its members will look at the goatkeeper's practices as they affect the three important aspects of unprocessed goat milk production and distribution:

A. Handling of Milk

l. Before milking, make sure there is no dirt on the udder, the teats and surrounding area;

2. Wash (with germicidal solution or "dry wash") teats before forestripping;

3. Forestripping;

4. Examine milk from forestripping for evidence of mastitis if there are other health concerns, prior indications of possible infection;

5. Milk into a suitable, wide-mouth container with care to keep dirt and foreign matter out of the container;

6. After milking dip teats in a germicidal solution;

7. Strain milk while emptying the milking container into the storage container. This is done immediately after milking.

8. Chill milk as soon as milking is completed. (Chilling in a water bath slightly above a freezing temperature is most effective. Once chilled and packaged for sale it can be kept at refrigerator temperatures.)

9. The strained milk may be chilled in the same container in which it is delivered to the customer.

10. Milk is held at no more than 45 degrees F before being used or sold. (40 degrees may be preferred by some producers.)

11. Containers carry the date of milking, and milk is held no more than 3 days before sale.

B. Equipment for Handling Milk

1. Milking pail must be thoroughly washed and sanitized before milking;

2. Both the strainer and the milk container into which milk flows as it is strained must be thoroughly washed and sanitized before use;

3. If the containers for milk to be sold are plastic, they must be new, unused and factory-clean. Glass containers must be thoroughly washed and sanitized before refilling;

4. Clean, potable water must be used for washing, and it must be hot;

5. Storage of all containers and utensils must keep them clean and free from dust and contact with flies;

6. Goatkeepers must wash his/her hands thoroughly before milking and again before straining the milk;

7. The area where the goats are milked must be arranged so that airborne dust and insects are excluded, or at least minimized;

C. Care of Goat Herd:

1. Adequate, clean (potable) water is available to the animals;

2. Pens are large enough to permit exercise;

3. A large part of the pens are in sunlight for most of the day;

4. Pens have no low, wet areas;

5. Shelter against rain or snow is provided;

6. Floor of the shelter is kept clean if no bedding is provided;

7. If bedding is provided in the shelter it must be at least 3 to 4 inches deep and kept clean by regular additions and regular removal;

8. Fencing has no sharp wire ends and no barbed wire is used;

9. Goatkeeper knows each animal individually and is constantly aware of their condition;

10. The cause of any off-condition of any goat is determined immediately and steps are taken to bring her back to health;

11. If any goat shows signs of illness of any sort, her milk is set aside for non-human use or discarded;

12. Well-balanced rations of high quality hay and grain supplements are fed daily;

13. No hay is fed for two hours before milking;

14. Bucks are kept separate from milking does and well away from them.


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