Fair Skies Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats, at 's No Rest, Wasilla, Alaska, 907.232.5414 or 907.441.1851
Click here to return to our home page



Frequently asked questions (FAQ)


We compiled this list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) from our whole-herd showcase at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer (August 19-23, 2008). We will update this page as our customers pose new questions.

Information on Raw Milk - new DEC milk and cheese regulations for Alaska!

NEW! Visit our Setup page

About us

News

Herd health

Herdsires

Does

Kidding schedule

Dairy production

Sales


Updated 3 December 2010

We compiled this list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) from our whole-herd showcase at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer (August 19-23, 2008). We will update this page as our customers pose new questions.

Terminology: What do you call a girl goat? Does/Nannies? What do you call a boy goat? Bucks/Billies? What are Spays, Wethers, Kids, Seniors, and Juniors?

Why small goats?

Are these pygmies?

WHITE? In a BARN?

What do goats eat?

Horns/Antlers What's that on their head? Why do you remove the horns?

Do goats smell bad?

Rut/Heat/breeding

Do goats make good pets?

What do you do in the winter? Do you have to have a heated barn?

Do goats always give milk?

How do you get milk from a goat?

Do you have to bottle feed baby goats?

How much milk will you get from a goat?

What does goat milk taste like?

Milk: raw or pasteurized? Can I buy raw milk? FOLLOW THIS LINK TO JUMP TO IMPORTANT UPDATES REGARDING PUBLIC NOTICE & REQUEST FOR COMMENTARY TO CHANGE 18 AAC 32 ALASKA REGULATIONS ON RAW MILK AND RAW MILK PRODUCTS

 

Terminology: What do you call a girl goat? Does/Nannies? What do you call a boy goat? Bucks/Billies? What are Spays, Wethers, Kids, Seniors, and Juniors?

   Young goats are called kids.

   Although some people call them nannies, the preferred term for a domestic female goat is doe. A young female kid is called a doeling.

   A doe that has not had kids (kidded) or given milk (lactated or "freshened") is considered a junior doe.

   A doe that has had kids (kidded) or has been milked is considered a senior doe. Normally, does must be bred and must kid in order to lactate (freshen). Sometimes a doe that aborts, miscarries, or delivers stillborns will still lactate. Although rare, a doe that has not been bred or a doe that has not kidded may spontaneously lactate. These goats are called precocious milkers. If you milk a precocious milker, it is considered a senior doe. Yes, sometimes bucks lactate too!

   A "fixed" female goat is called spayed. Due to the high cost, low availability of veterinarians specializing in goat care in the United States, difficulty safely sedating and anesthetizing goats, and high demand for "family milkers" or meat, it is rare to find a spayed goat. Female goats with defects are usually sold for pets or family milkers. These goats are often sold without registration papers to discourage breeding. If the animal's defect is serious enough, the animal may be euthanized or consumed, rather than spayed.

   Although some people call them billies, the preferred term for a domestic male goat is buck

   A buck under 12 months of age is considered a junior buck.

   A buck 12 months of age and older is considered a senior buck.

   A "fixed" or neutered male is called a wether.

Why small goats?

   We did not originally set out to breed small goats. In fact, we looked at several breeds and we truly admire each for their unique characteristics. We originally set out to acquire a couple of family milkers, but quickly realized our responsibility to the animals and their respective breeds. We decided that no matter what type of goat we chose, we wanted to contribute to the quality of the breed. Before we ever purchased a single goat, we spent a solid year learning about goats and talking to locals, visiting farms, and narrowing our search. Although we may eventually add larger breeds to our herd, we settled on the Nigerian Dwarf largely due to the impressive accomplishments, passion, and openness of the local breeders.

   Once we were acquainted with these fine creatures, we began to see countless advantages to a small goat. First there is the obvious economic advantage. Goats are herd animals such that a single goat living alone is not optimally content. Since it is in the best interests of the goats to keep more than one, it is considerably cheaper and easier to feed, house, contain, and handle two small goats than it is to handle two large goats. Additionally, small goats tend to be easier for people to handle and people often feel less intimidated by a small goat. When they are handled properly, small goats also tend to be safer for children. Small goats also require smaller living quarters, less acreage, less feed, and fewer specialized pieces of equipment. In fact, a small goat can simply be lifted into a vehicle or crate for transport. Another advantage to keeping small goats is that most small families cannot consume the amount of milk a pair of large goats produce. By splitting the milk production, between two or more animals, breedings can be staggered throughout the year to always provide a supply of fresh milk. By diversifying, health issues can be easier to manage such that you will still have milk if one animal is sick or requires treatment that limits or prohibits production or consumption of the milk. Additionally, there are more animals to go around as pets for the family and more animals mean more personality and more entertainment. This is important to a family that wishes to teach the children responsibility, equalize chores, and reward them for successful rearing and competition, such as is available in small clubs or 4H events.

Are these pygmies?

   Although from similar origins, Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats are not pygmy goats. Pygmies were selectively bred as meat animals while Nigerian Dwarf goats were selectively bred for milk production (dairy). Some pygmies are excellent milkers, but it is difficult to find pygmies that have been bred for dairy production and thus their udders and teats tend to be small and difficult to milk. They often produce considerably less milk than Nigerian Dwarf goats and their udders often do not hold up to many years of demand as a dairy goat's udder is designed. The primary physical difference between a pygmy and a Nigerian Dwarf is the pygmy's large barrel and slightly shorter stature compared to the Nigerian Dwarf's slimmer, sharper, more angular profile.

WHITE? In a BARN?

   Many people commented on the all-white outfit Heather was sporting during much of the Fair. Although some shows allow beige, C35617, khaki, or black bottoms with a white top, all white is the preferred show uniform for dairy goats. To represent sanitation of the dairy industry, we wear all white, just as nurses, doctors, and chefs once wore all-white uniforms. For ease of cleaning, dairy workers' garments were simply washed in bleach and scalding hot water to disinfect and clean. Today, the uniform is more of a formality than an issue of practicality. We do not wear all white at home, unless we are wearing tyvek-style coveralls.

What do goats eat?

   Goats are natural browsers. This means they like to pick and choose through a variety of foods, primarily trees and shrubs. They will eat some grass and most domestic goats are actually fed hay as their principle diet, but they will not mow your lawn like a sheep may. Domestic goats cannot normally forage enough on their own to meet their nutritional needs, especially for goats that are breeding, carrying kids in utero, or producing milk. In addition to hand-cut browse, unless overweight, we feed our goats free choice, high-quality hay of at least two varieties; typically timothy and brome to all the goats and alfalfa (a legume that is normally high in protein and calcium) to growing and lactating goats or goats in need of weight gain. The amount each goat eats depends on the goat's life stage, health, genetics, and energy demands, as well as the weather (time of year). Additionally, we offer various supplements to our goats based on their needs and health.

Horns/Antlers What's that on their head? Why do you remove the horns?

   In goats, we call the boney appendages that grow from their heads horns, rather than antlers. The distinction is typically made in whether or not the appendage is permanent if not removed (horn), or sloughed and regrown every year (antler).

   Both sexes of Nigerian Dwarf goats are normally born with horns. Some goats are born naturally hornless or "polled". Polled goats will have large, round bumps on their head where horns would normally grow. Within a few days or weeks, it is apparent that the goat is polled as no horns ever emerge from the bumps. This is a desirable trait because the goat does not need to have their horns removed (disbudded), trimmed, or capped. Genetic problems sometimes linked to polled goats have not been found to be an issue in west African goats, such as the Nigerian Dwarf. You must have at least one polled parent to get a polled kid, but there is no guarantee a polled parent will produce a polled kid. Registered polled goats will have a "P" after their ADGA registration number or an "H" after their AGS registration number.

   When the goats are just a few days old, we remove their horns, or "disbud". We disbud goats for several reasons, the first of which is safety for the animal itself. A horned animal can get caught in a fence or in trees and when the animal struggles to get free, it may panic and break or strain its neck or hurt others that come near to investigate or assist. A horned goat can also be very dangerous to others. Ramming another goat with a horn can cause broken bones, impalements, and even tears in sensitive tissues like udders. Second, a horned goat is often originally thought to be cute, but when the animal gets larger, it can frighten humans and even become aggressive. This often leads to a goat that does not receive adequate care. Some people with horned goats mitigate this issue by capping the horns with tennis balls. Third, a horned goat may need their horns trimmed or filed to minimize sharp points. This can be painful and traumatic for the goat, especially later in life. For these reasons, animals with horns may not be allowed in the show ring or on show grounds.

   Disbudding is an unpleasant process but it only takes a few seconds and it is in the goat's best interests. Very often a disbudded kid will act normally and return to play with herdmates within minutes, as if nothing ever happened. If done correctly, the process only needs to happen once and the horns will not grow back. Disbudding leaves a small scab on the head until it heals and covers with hair, after which it is difficult to notice. Occasionally, especially on bucks, small horn remnants may grow back. These remnants are called scurs and they usually occur at the far points where the horns would have been. Scurs must be regularly maintained and neatly trimmed to avoid curling and growing back into the skull. This can be problematic for certain animals, which may necessitate surgical removal by a veterinarian.

Do goats smell bad?

   Healthy, clean does and wethers should have a mild, natural scent that is not offensive. Unless removed during the disbudding process, all goats also have a scent pad on the top of their head, which emanates a chemical signature of sorts used for territorial marking. You may observe them rubbing their heads on objects, people, or other goats to mark them, but this pad on does and wethers usually does not emit a scent detectable by humans.

   Bucks are often quite pungent, especially when in rut. To attract females and to signal their territory and dominance to other males, mature bucks often urinate on their beards, faces, front legs, and objects around them, including their handlers and other bucks. For this reason, bucks usually do not make good pets. Bucks and does are breeding animals and they may be frustrated if kept as pets where they are not allowed to breed. Instead, wethers make better pets because they usually do not have the instinct to breed or to mark their territory or themselves like bucks do. Wethers often smell no different than a doe.

Rut/Heat/breeding

   Male goats often go into "rut" when they are ready to breed. Rut is usually a period of time when bucks are continually displaying for other goats, exerting dominance and scenting their territory and other animals in their area. Extraordinary behaviors may include butting, head rubbing, mounting, urinating, and unusual verbalizations. For most goats, this typically occurs in the fall. However, Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats are not seasonal breeders so rut may occur at any time of the year once the animal has reached sexual maturity.

   Female goats go into "heat" when they are ready to breed. Does in heat usually continually display for other goats, exerting dominance and scenting their territory and other animals in their area. Extraordinary behaviors may include head rubbing, mounting, urinating, tail "flagging", and excessive verbalizations. Heat cycles generally occur every 21 days, lasting for about three days. For most goats, this typically occurs in the late summer or early fall. However, Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats are not seasonal breeders so heat may occur at any time of the year once the animal has reached sexual maturity. The start of heat cycles may be interrupted or delayed by pregnancy or nursing.

Do goats make good pets?

   In general, goats make fantastic pets. If they are handled regularly and respectfully, they are personable and affectionate. They are often talkative and enjoy both play time and quiet time. We raise our goats so they are friendly but not pushy. We like them to romp at will, but never jump up, knock us over, or hurt us. We want them to respect our space, but be willing to sit on our lap and chew their cud, when invited to do so. So far we have been successful with every goat we've purchased or raised from birth, but we acknowledge that every goat has their own unique personality and not all will be as accepting of humans as those we have come to know. Of note, we are often asked if goats can be housetrained. We have known goats that have been housetrained but we do not encourage this practice. Our goats only come in the house if they are ill enough to require hospital care.

What do you do in the winter? Do you have to have a heated barn?

   Our goats spend a considerable amount of time outdoors year 'round. We breed for goats that are naturally hardy. A healthy goat that has adequate food, shelter, and water is extremely adept at adapting to their environment. If the goat is carrying an adequate hair coat and if the animal is provided with a place to get out of the wind, a small area in which to cuddle with another goat, another goat with which to snuggle, a way to stay dry, plenty of clean, lofty bedding, and lots of high-quality hay, they can handle our frigid temperatures with ease. In fact, two small goats really enjoy cuddling together in a large "Dogloo" and we provide these inside their stalls as both recreational toys and tighter quarters during the coldest part of the year. We do not heat their barn because they do better when in consistent temperatures. Moving from heated to unheated areas can lead to respiratory or other illnesses. Occasionally a goat may need some help warming up or staying warm, especially if they get wet or are shivering. Heat lamps (caged and secured to prevent fire) and "goat coats" work well for this purpose. For nursing goats, a bottle of warm milk from their mother helps. For older goats, a drink of warm water with a little nutritional supplement added helps.

Do goats always give milk?

   Like all mammals, normally, does must be bred and must kid in order to lactate (freshen), just like with cows. Sometimes a doe that aborts, miscarries, or delivers stillborns will still lactate. Although rare, a doe that has not been bred or a doe that has not kidded may spontaneously lactate. These goats are called precocious milkers. If you milk a precocious milker, it is considered a senior doe.

How do you get milk from a goat?

   Regardless of sex, a goat should have two teats; no more and no less. The animal is placed on a milking stand next to which the milker sits, which raises the animal off the ground and holds them still. Just like milking cows, we gently express the milk from the teats using a technique that seals the top of the teat from the rest of the udder and pushes the entrapped milk out of the bottom of the teat. This should not be painful for the goat and in fact it should be a pleasant experience of relief that they should come to at least ignore, if not enjoy. First-fresheners that are new to the process sometimes object to the idea until they are trained. For this reason, goats should be handled firmly but gently throughout the milking process.

   Goats can be milked by hand or by machine. We milk our goats by hand. For this reason, we selectively breed for goats with proportionately large, plump teats that hang correctly perpendicular (plumb) to the ground so they are easy to grasp and aim. The orifices at the end of each teat should be large, requiring less effort to milk, but they should never leak. We milk our goats twice daily.

Do you have to bottle feed baby goats?

   We selectively breed for does that can produce enough milk to feed all their kids straight through to weaning without supplemental bottle feeding. If the doe is producing enough milk to feed her kids and still provide extra leftover, we will begin milking immediately upon freshening. If the doe does not produce extra milk, we will simply take her to the stand twice daily to get her in a routine, inspect her udder, check her health, and feed her supplements. Once the kids are weaned, we begin milking the doe regularly.

   Because we run a bio-secure, negative-tested herd that is not infected with diseases like CAE, CL, and Johne's, we can let our does raise their kids. This is called dam-raising. In our experience, this produces kids that are robust and learn their manners so that they respect your space without becoming pushy. Even though we work full-time away from the farm, we spend a lot of time with our does and their kids so that they are friendly and enjoy human companionship. A doe that enjoys time with people often produces kids that also enjoy time with people. However, every goat has their own personality and some goats are naturally more attentive to people than others.

   We only bottle-feed kids if there is a health reason to do so, or if we are at an event that requires a different milking schedule, such as a show. When we bottle-feed, we feed milk from our does, never milk from other herds or milk replacers. Feeding milk from our own herd ensures a healthy, bio-secure herd. We have found that bottle-feeding can encourage the kids to become pushy, so we minimize the amount of time on the bottle. A few hours back with mom often sets the kids back in stride with their manners, but again, every goat has their own personality and some goats are naturally pushier than others. Because they often reach sexual maturity before optimal weaning age and therefore must be separated from their mothers and sisters prematurely, bucklings are often bottle-fed their mother's milk as a transitional supplement for the first few weeks after weaning.

How much milk will you get from a goat?

   The amount of milk you get from a goat will depend on many variables. Important factors are the goat's genetics , health, diet, husbandry, age, experience (number of freshenings), number of kids each freshening, and frequency of milking. We breed for goats that are naturally high producers. In fact, some of our goats are sons and daughters of the great QSF DTI Patience *D 1*M, who twice tied for and held the #1 All Time Breed Record for the most amount of milk produced in one day on test by a Nigerian Dwarf! Her maximum on test has been 6.8 pounds, which is nearly a full gallon of milk from one of these small goats! (A gallon of milk weighs about 8.1 pounds). In 2009, our girls are averaging about 1/2 gallon daily, each, which is outstanding! We expect them to increase production as we build on our knowledge base for maintaining optimal herd health and as they mature and put more freshenings with higher multiple births behind them.

   We participate in the voluntary Dairy Herd Improvement (DHI) program and test monthly throughout the girls' lactations. This involves bringing in an unbiased, certified tester who witnesses and times the milkings (it's not a race, the timing is just for reference and production calculations), weighs the milk from each doe, and samples the milk from each doe for submission to a certified DHI lab. Langston University's E (Kika) de la Garza Institute for Goat Research then processes the sample, testing our milk for protein and butterfat content and somatic cell count (a scale that helps monitor the health of the udder) for submission to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA), and the American Goat Society (AGS).

What does goat milk taste like?

   Milk from a healthy goat should taste very clean, fresh, and sweet. It should be odorless and free of aftertastes, strange colors, sediments, or foreign debris. If the milking process is sanitary and if the milk is chilled quickly and handled properly, it should last in the refrigerator for up to a week without spoiling, even if raw and unpasteurized. Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats are known for the very high butterfat content of their milk, which makes the milk very creamy and ideal for making cheese, ice cream, sour cream, creme fraiche, and other dairy products. For example, typical whole cow milk available commercially runs around about 4% butterfat, but our does consistently test in the 8% to 10% range! In fact, one of our does has produced as much as 10.8% butterfat!

Milk: raw or pasteurized? Can I buy raw milk?

   There is much misinformation about raw milk regulations in Alaska, including an erroneous article published in the Dairy Goat Journal in 2008 and another in the Anchorage Daily News in 2006. In fact, it was not until mid-February 2009 when DEC finally agreed and clarified that goat shares are in fact legal in Alaska. We provide the background information below, beginning with old news, followed by November 2010 amendments. Prior to that there was a June 2010 request for commentary, February 2009 update, and November-December 2009 request for commentary).

   HISTORY: Over the past 13 years, we have had many conversations regarding the applicable laws, statutes, and regulations with the relevant agency (Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation aka DEC). Raw milk is legal to sell in 28 states in America, but Alaska is not yet among this group. Unfortunately, current Alaska state regulations prohibit the sale of milk unless it is pasteurized by a Grade A dairy or sold strictly for animal consumption with charcoal and a dye added to it, and labeled "not for human consumption".
   Some farmers & owners of milking animals have tried to sell shares or condos, which allow for a co-operative ownership agreement wherein a person purchases a portion of an animal. Many participants were actually served with cease and desist orders as recently as early 2008. This was due to a discrepancy between the way the regulations are written and the way DEC was enforcing them. The officials at DEC believed that the current regulations specifically state the milk cannot even leave the farm in its raw, unaltered state, regardless of who owns the milk or the animal from which it came. They believed that unless the milk was sold to a milk processing plant or for animal food, it would be illegal to even remove it from the farm. However, there is an exclusion for ownership and personal use, which includes the issue of transport, and as such, the law does allow for shares/condos.

   DEC intended to prosecute any entities selling milk shares or condos. In late 2008, Dr. Robert F. Gerlach, VMD, Alaska State Veterinarian with DEC, stated:
"Alaska State regulations 18 AAC 32.060 explicitly prohibit the movement of raw milk off the dairy unless it is being transported to a processing plant (for processing) or denatured and used as animal feed. Cow shares proposals have been used in other states in an attempt to circumvent laws but Alaska's regulations clearly prohibit that activity as well. This opinion has been confirmed with the Department of Law.

"When the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) becomes aware that a person is in violation of this regulation, we inform them in writing that this activity is illegal and outline the allowed methods for selling milk in Alaska. During the past year we have told at least three different farm owners that were selling raw milk either directly or via cow shares is prohibited under 18 AAC 32.010 - 32.060 and they must stop.

"A person selling raw milk or cow shares in Alaska is not under any sort of inspection program (state or federal), because they are not operating an approved dairy. There is no such thing as "staying on the good side of inspectors" as a method to sell raw milk. This standard applies to all milk producers. We do not discriminate in any way by knowingly allowing such activity by some individuals."

"We are obligated to enforce the regulations as they are written and interpreted by our legal counsel. In this matter, we prefer to educate before enforcing; however, we will refer repeat offenders to the State Attorney General for legal action. Since there seems to be broad interest in selling raw milk, we will publicize the regulations and legal interpretation through newsletters and public meetings."
   While there was a legitimate claim that 18 AAC 32.010 (c) exempts owners from the provisions of 18 AAC 32.010 - 18 AAC 32.060, Dr. Gerlach and the Department of Law made it clear they intended to enforce the law as if there was no such exemption for share/condo owners/buyers/sellers. This was not tested in the courts and understandably so, as most farmers were not eager to enter the expensive and exhaustive legal foray to defend their rights under the existing Statutes and regulations. For these reasons, we declined to sell shares or condos. Thus, the only remaining legal option to obtain raw milk without fear of legal posturing and bullying from DEC was to purchase and maintain your own milking animals on your own property.


   In 2008, our collective efforts with many other Alaskans made more progress than ever before, with HB367 introduced by Representative Mark Neuman, proceeding through the House Finance and Resources Committees before finally being quashed by Dr. Gerlach and others, including a dairy near North Pole, Alaska. It is interesting to note that our efforts to change the law were completely unsupported by those currently selling raw milk shares or condos or claiming it is already legal. Not one of the existing shareholders or sellers testified in favor of legalizing raw milk sales or condos or shares during the 2008 Legislative Committee Hearings on HB367. Such participants claimed they prefered to fly under the radar, which led us to ask, "Why the need to hide if you truly believe you are not breaking the law (or asking your customers to do so on your behalf)?" Please ask yourself the same question before you commit to buying raw milk from anyone in Alaska until the law is changed. Please also carefully inspect the animals and the barns and pens where they live to ensure the animals are healthy and well cared for and ALWAYS require proof of recent, whole-herd, negative test results for Caprine Arthritis & Encephalitis (CAE), Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL), and Johne's (M. paratuberculosis aka MAP). Pasteurization has NOT been shown to effectively and reliably eradicate some of these zoonotic diseases from the milk, so the only safe way to avoid them is to never consume milk from animals of infected herds.

   Note regarding transmission of CAE between goats: Some publications have now cited concern for transmission both through bodily fluids shared during breeding and in utero. "Infection occurs by transmission of fluids from an infected animal to an uninfected animal. The most efficient manner of transmission is from dam to kid by ingesting colostrums or milk from infected does. Horizontal transmission of CAV has been documented. When uninfected goats are housed with infected goats for long periods a significant number seroconvert. Uninfected does readily seroconvert when milked with infected does presumably as a result of transfer of the virus during the milking process. Venereal transmission is possible, especially if one animal is clinically infected. Transmission from doe to kid before or during parturition has been documented. No evidence supports transmission by an insect vector. Iatrogenic transmission (by dehorning equipment or needles) also is possible." -Pugh, Sheep and Goat Medicine, 2002


   UPDATE!!!  We have news from Dr. Gerlach at DEC! After many months of discussions, we requested a "Finding of Law" from the Department of Law. Dr. Gerlach had previously told us, on many occasions, that he had already obtained this and the interpretation followed the information in the history above. The trouble was that Dr. Gerlach would not provide a name of a contact within the Department of Law who would be responsible for this finding, stating that they worked for the State and would not provide legal advice to citizens. Since we merely wished to confirm the finding and we did not want any legal advice, we kept pushing and Dr. Gerlach finally went back and reviewed the old public comments from the last time the regulations were changed in 1998. To this end, Dr. Gerlach has issued a statement, of which the following was excerpted (complete scanned letter here):


"Are the individuals holding these shares allowed to remove raw milk from the farm for personal use?

"Interpretation:

"Since the current regulation was written in 1998 it was unknown if the regulation had any specific intent regarding "cow shares". In 2008, the Department of Environmental Conservation requested a legal interpretation of the regulation by the state Attorney General's office and at that time, it was determined that "cow shares" were not legal under the existing regulation.

"After detailed research and review of archived files relating to the development, writing and implementation of the regulations in 1998, it was determined that the original intent of the regulation was specifically to prohibit the sale of raw milk and raw milk products in commerce but not to restrict the consumption of these products by an owner or multiple owners of a cow, sheep or goat. This interpretation was clearly stated in the "Response to Comments" that was written generated as a result of the public notice process when this regulation was drafted in 1998.

"Therefore, the Division of Environmental Health is obligated to be consistent with the original interpretation and consider it legal for individuals to remove raw cow, sheep or goat milk from a premise for personal consumption if they own the animal or a part of the animal. A legal contract should be established clarifying this relationship and ownership. This contract would allow an individual to remove raw milk from the premise for their personal use (to drink raw milk or further process to make other products for their personal consumption). This exemption does not permit the public sale or distribution of raw milk or any products made from the raw milk at a physical location or via the mail or internet.

"Additional Information:

"The current regulations do allow cow or goat shares, but they do not provide a mechanism for oversight, permitting or reviewing any programs. The animal owner must be responsible for protecting themselves and their family from any hazards associated with consuming raw milk. There is a risk to individual and public health and a significant safety hazard associated with the consumption of raw milk and raw milk products because there is no guarantee that pathogens have been eliminated as there would be if the milk was pasteurized."

  This is a MAJOR victory for the Alaskan small dairy and homesteaders alike. However, we must be vigilant in protecting this precious right. The current issue with milk shares is that it falls under *regulation* (Alaska Administrative Code, AAC), which DEC (Dr. Gerlach) may change at any time. Dr. Gerlach will have to go out for public notice, but it is not the same rigorous, publicized process as having a Statute changed. Beware, we believe Dr. Gerlach is going to try to change his regulations to outlaw milk shares once and for all, as he had previously been trying to enforce. This is why Rep. Mark Neuman introduced HB367 in 2008 to create a Statute that would specifically allow the sale of raw milk, something DEC and Gerlach could not change without legislative action. We must be ready to stand up and voice our opinions on the matter to preserve the regulations as they stand now and to further write a Statute that specifically allows shares until changed by a vote of the people.


PREVIOUS PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD There are proposed changes to Alaska's existing regulations 18 AAC 32 Raw Milk and Raw Milk Products. The comment & public notice period was extended through January 4, 2010. Although the comment period is now closed, DEC has not yet reached a decision on the matter at hand.
Fuller Email #1
Fuller Email #2
Draft Cheese Regualtions
Proposed Cheese Regulations
Raw Milk Shares Fact Sheet
Public Notice
- The comment & public notice period was extended to January 4, 2010.
March 2010 Press Release



PREVIOUS PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD The proposed changes to Alaska's existing regulations 18 AAC 32 Raw Milk and Raw Milk Products are once again open for commentary. The comment & public notice runs through 5PM, July 6, 2010.
Fuller Email #3
Public notice and cover letter June 3, 2010
DEC Division of Environmental Health Website
Cheese Regulation Public Notice
Draft Cheese Regulations
How to Comment on Regulations




"The adopted Amendments to 18 AAC 32, Milk, Milk Products, & Reindeer Slaughtering and Processing (commercial cheese regulations) are now posted on the DEC web site at: http://dec.alaska.gov/regulations/pdfs/Cheese%20Amendments%20Effective%20December%203,%202010.pdf.

"The DEC Response to Public Comments are available at: http://dec.alaska.gov/eh/docs/vet/DEC%20Comment%20Response.pdf.

‎"For clarity, some of the parts of the regulation near the beginning & the end are not cheese related but are the first phase of a reorganization of the entire chapter to eventually separate reindeer slaughter from dairy products.

"Thank you for your comments. Many changes were made based on public comment, although not all things that people hoped for were included. In all cases, the response paper explains why.

"Sincerely, Jay Fuller
"DVM Assistant State Veterinarian Alaska
"Department of Environmental Conservation"

NOVEMBER 2010 AMENDMENTS The proposed changes to Alaska's existing regulations 18 AAC 32 Raw Milk and Raw Milk Products are now out for review. This draft was authored and distributed by the office of Rep. Tammie Wilson (North Pole). Please send comments to Rep. Wilson at Representative_Tammie_Wilson@legis.state.ak.us as well as DEC.
Proposed Amendments to DEC Cheese Regulations (Draft A)


   Contrary to the popular untruths, we did *NOT* have any part in authoring ANY of these regulations. From what we've gathered, these regulations were authored by DEC with input from a legislator in Fairbanks. For these documents, our part was simply to spread the word to the public so that they would be informed and have an opportunity to comment to help shape their future regarding cheese manufacturing in Alaska. We are not employed by DEC nor do we agree with DEC's assessment of the comments received. We are strong supporters of legalizing raw milk in Alaska and we have been one of the most vocal parties to the legislature since before we purchased our first goats in 2007.

   In other relevant information, it is important to note that Marlene Diehl of USDA reports:
"The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). NASS is responsible for gathering statistics on agricultural production. We do not conduct any inspections."
   Thus, there are no federal inspectors for private dairies in Alaska. If you are told otherwise, the source is misinformed. Please consider the motivations behind those providing contrary information. Those illegally selling raw milk do not have your best interests at heart. Additionally, they make it increasingly difficult to clearly legalize the sale of raw milk in Alaska once and for all. There are State Dairy Inspectors, but it is our understanding that they concentrate primarily upon inspecting the large, Grade A processing facilities and related means of transportation.

   We are attempting to motivate the public to help us change the law so that we do not ask you to endanger yourself or your family and we do not endanger our farms. We want you to have the choice and we want to help you gather the knowledge you need to make an informed decision. Having the correct information available to the public is critical to our mutual success. Raw milk SALES are still illegal in Alaska, but shares/condos are legal and DEC has finally recognized this due to our efforts. One of the biggest obstacles against legalizing raw milk sales in other states has been that most people think it is already legal and thus they will not press for a legislative change. If raw milk sales and transport were already explicitly legal, we would not have had cause to invest over thirteen years toward encouraging the Alaska Legislature to change the law to specifically allow the sale and transport of raw milk. Opponents are misguidedly convinced, largely by outdated, biased, misleading, incomplete, and downright incorrect reports published by the CDC, that all raw milk is an absolute danger to public health. Although other raw foods like eggs, oysters, sushi, and even such benign items as strawberries, spinach, tomatoes, and peanut butter, which are intended to be consumed in their natural, raw state, have *actually* sickened many people, raw milk is consumed worldwide with relatively few illnesses annually. This has been the case for millennia and most of the world still consumes raw milk without any concern. In fact, "the nation's largest recorded outbreak of Salmonella was due to PASTEURIZED milk contaminated with antibiotic-resistant Salmonella typhimurium. The outbreak, which occurred between June 1984 and April 1985 sickened over 200,000 and caused 18 deaths." This is because the pasteurization process destroyed all the beneficial bacteria and thus there were none left to fight off the harmful bacteria. In laboratory tests, the beneficial bacteria in raw milk has been known to destroy salmonella within 24 hours and dramatically restrict the growth of listeria and e. coli 0157:H7! In addition, there are serious concerns that pasteurization may not destroy Johne's, or the bacteria responsible for it (M. paratuberculosis), and thus this possible disease transmission route may be responsible for Crohn's disease in humans (see also: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/568374_2). This is why we strongly recommend that you know your farmers and their herd and ensure that the animals that supply your food are healthy and clean-tested (negative) for Johne's. Better yet, purchase and maintain your own clean-tested herd! There are very few of us testing for this disease and even fewer that maintain a negative, bio-secure herd, but we do welcome the company and hope that one day soon we won't be in the minority. We also remind our readers that one should never rely upon pasteurization to make dirty milk clean, or as a substitute for cleanliness and responsible milk handling.

      We believe each individual should have the right to make a personal choice about whether they wish to consume raw milk versus pasteurized milk. Although you can kill certain bad bacteria with heat treating milk, it should NEVER be used as a substitution for clean milking and handling practices. In short, pasteurizing milk should not be an excuse to run a dirty dairy. As with any food, proper handling is very important. All utensils should be clean and sanitary; hands, teats, and udders should be washed before and after milking; and milk should be filtered and immediately chilled. One should not consume milk from a sick doe or a doe on certain medications. If you choose to pasteurize the milk, be sure you understand the process and follow the directions precisely to avoid incorrect or incomplete pasteurization, which can lead to unexpected or disappointing results.

   Pasteurized or heat-treated milk has some downsides. Remember that when you heat the milk, you are not only killing harmful bacteria that may or may not be in the milk, but you are also destroying the beneficial bacteria, the natural healthful enzymes, and even the vitamins and minerals naturally in the milk. This is why commercially processed milk is fortified - to put back what was lost in the pasteurization process! A baby goat thrives on milk straight from the udder of a healthy dam and humans can too. In fact, the United States is in the extreme minority where most others around the world regularly consume raw milk.

   Although we understand that not everyone feels as strongly about legalizing the sale of raw milk and raw milk products in Alaska, we will continue to educate our lawmakers and the public about the benefits of raw milk. We are encouraging a return to personal freedom of choice by the informed consumer, spending our time alerting the public to the current law and educating them on proper sanitation and storage techniques. If you are interested in helping this effort, please email us, contact the Alaska Mini Goat Cache, or call and write to your legislators and ask them to sponsor and support a bill legalizing the sale of raw milk in Alaska. This is especially important to our state's economic independence and self-sufficiency, not the least of which includes dairy farmers from the former Matanuska Maid Dairy that would rather be milking the herds they've worked so hard to build here than send them to slaughter and stand on the unemployment lines collecting welfare.

We are located at 's No Rest, Wasilla soon to be Juneau, Alaska!
Our mailing address is PO Box 240562, Anchorage, AK 99524 (watch for updates but our mail will be forwarded)

You may email us at: H.Fair@hotmail.com

You may call us at:
907.232.5414 (local call from Mat-Su, watch for new Juneau number)
or 907.441.1851 (local call from Anchorage)
Please note the current time in Alaska (we are 4 hours BEHIND the East Coast of the United States).


To be sure you see all our updates, please "refresh" each page as you visit
(just hold down the CTRL key and tap F5 once the page is loaded).