BURLINGTON – Interest in goat dairy production is growing in Vermont with new and existing producers looking to capitalize on the growing demand for goats milk and goats milk products.
This spring, free tours of five goat dairies will provide an opportunity to meet with goat dairy producers and hear from Extension dairy specialists about parlor and barn design, herd health, goat dairy financials, grazing, value-added production considerations and related topics. The sessions are open to goat dairy producers, agricultural service providers and anyone who is considering starting a goat dairy or transitioning from a cow dairy farm.
The farm visits are sponsored by University of Vermont (UVM) Extension, the UVM Center for Rural Studies, Vermont Creamery and the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center. Each will include an owner-led tour of the farm with time for networking and questions.
Dates and locations include on April 19, Joneslan Farm, Hyde Park. In 2020, this fifth-generation farm transitioned from milking 500 cows to more than 800 goats. They currently ship milk to Vermont Creamery. Steve and Brian Jones will discuss the steps and challenges of making this transition.
Also on May 10, Bridgman Hill Farm, Hardwick. Participants will hear from owners Ryan Andrus and Annie Rowen about how they converted a vacant cow dairy to a facility for their 500-head herd of goats. They bottle their milk under the Oak Knoll label and supply excess milk to the Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro to be made into specialty cheeses including Bridgman Blue and Eligo.
On May 23 the tour will feature Tup’s Crossing Farm, Orwell. Owners Holly and Faruk Menguc will talk about their family-operated dairy, a former organic cow dairy. They currently milk 240 goats and ship their milk to Vermont Creamery.
May 26 will feature Ayers Brook Goat Dairy, Randolph. Vermont Creamery established this farm in 2012 to create a local supply of goat milk and support the growth of the goat dairy industry in the state. In 2017, it was sold to the Hooper family, who currently supply milk to the Creamery and Fat Toad Caramels, as well as provide consultation to other goat dairy producers. The dairy is nationally known for its quality genetics.
The last tour will occur on May 31, at Blue Ledge Farm, Salisbury. This first-generation, family-owned grazing goat dairy and farmstead creamery was established in 2000. Owners Greg Bernhardt and Hannah Sessions milk more than 100 goats and produce over a dozen types of artisanal cheese on the farm, which are available online and at several stores in the Northeast and their seasonal, self-serve farm stand.
To register for one or more farm tours, go to go.uvm.edu/goatdairytours. To request a disability-related accommodation to participate, contact Kelsie Meehan at (518) 810-6431 or email@example.com two weeks in advance.
All sessions will run from noon to 2 p.m. Coffee and light snacks will be provided.
Participants are asked to wear clean clothes and shoes to ensure biosecurity on the host farm and their own farm. Plastic boot covers will be provided.
The tours are being held as part of a goat dairy research project being conducted by UVM Extension and the Center for Rural Studies. With funding from the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center, Vermont Creamery contracted with UVM to carry out this research to better understand the state of the goat dairy industry in Vermont and the Northeast. The research aims to advance knowledge of the barriers and opportunities for increasing goat dairy production in the state.