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The Country Enterprise Handbook
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........ Milk
...In the dairy
...Dealing with milk

The easiest animal to start with is a goat.

This is for several reasons, the first and most obvious being the price. You can probably buy eight or more good goats for the price of a good cow. There are, of course, extremes of price in any market, but a normal healthy goat (one that does not have an inflated price tag from exotic breeding) is a cheap animal. The foodstuffs necessary to produce gallons of milk from your goat are often simpler to obtain than the foodstuff required by a cow. In the summer at least, a lucky goat provided with lots of branches and brambles, some decent grass and a little concentrate will thrive. The goat's favourite food is generally that despised by other grazers. The expression on the faces of our goats when they are allowed access to a new patch of brambles or a piece of hawthorn hedge hitherto denied is one of sheer bliss. Of course, if you are blessed with prolific grass, the goats may seem a little more difficult to please. They will eat some grass but it is not their natural favourite and if your grazing is too soft, you will have to go out collecting some scrub for them or at the very least give them some hay. Not all greenery is safe for the all-consuming goat. Rhododendron makes them extremely ill and yew poisons them. Many textbooks claim that rhododendron is an instant poison but we had a mass escape of seven goats and they consumed quantities of it and the result was not death. It was the vilest green vomiting imaginable which came up with astounding force from the sad goats. It lasted for two days and then they all recovered. Rhododendron was certainly a strong poison to goats but it was not lethal. Another good thing about goats is their size. When you try to move a full-grown dairy cow you realise that it is an immovable object. In fact, instead of moving away from you the cow usually leans right back into you and you are the one who moves. A goat will certainly react to a shove, usually with a deer-like bound. Goats also take up a lot less space than cows in housing and milking facilities.