COCHRANE, Wis. – There will be plenty of kids at this year’s Buffalo County Dairy Breakfast, held June 22. Jason Puterbaugh with help from his brother, Jeff Puterbaugh, will host the event at his caprine dairy.
By the time hungry breakfasters arrive at the farm, Jason Puterbaugh will be finished with spring kidding. His 90 registered milking goats will be ready for visitors.
He started with goats during his 4-H days when he learned to show the animals. He sold his herd when he went to college, but three years ago he started back into the dairy business. He rents a barn and some land on the farm where his great-grandparents once lived and worked. The barn was retrofitted by filling in the gutters to make pens for his kids. He finished off one end for a single-12 parlor.
There’s more than just one thing he likes best about milking goats.
“(It’s) the easy handling,” he said. “They’re an easier animal to work with. (And) they eat less and need less space.”
The goal for the herd is to milk between 130 and 140 does. Currently the herd is an average two years old, milking 7.5 pounds of milk each day. Puterbaugh is working hard on his herd’s genetics. He raises some of his own does, but also sources does and bucks from all across the country to reach his goal of 11 pounds of milk per day per doe.
New does brought into the herd are sourced using American Goat Association appraisal scores and production records, requiring at least a 3,000-pound average going back several generations. Physical qualities chosen are strong udders, feet and legs. Breeds included in his herd are Saanen, Sable Saanen, Toggenberg and LaMancha – and two Nubians.
“Toggenberg has the best personality,” Puterbaugh said as he pointed to an example of his favorite breed. “They have good production and they will milk forever even if they’re not bred.”
He sells some of his own does as breeding stock. He uses his former 4-H experiences to show his goats with the American Goat Association because winning the awards can help with sales. But a national show can take as many as 10 days away from the farm, so he doesn’t go on the show circuit as much as he would like, he said. But he’s there enough to garner some awards.
Males and culls are sold in the meat market.
“(Right now that’s) very, very strong, stronger than dairy,” Puterbaugh said.
Milk is sold to Saputa Cheese, a privately owned processor. The milk is contracted yearly with an off-season premium. There are no dairy subsidies for goat milk; Saputa is careful to buy only as much milk as can be used. Currently there is a long waiting list to be included on the truck.
Puterbaugh has some does milking through the winter, although the majority kid in the spring.
“(They) handle cold better than heat,” he said. “They have access to outside in the winter. They like to be outside. At 20-below with some good bedding they are fine. They were originally bred in the Swiss Alps.”
Even the kids do better in cold weather because of fewer parasites. The exception is the Nubians in the herd, whose heritage is from warm climates.
Not all milk is sold for cheese. Jeff Puterbaugh uses some of the milk for goat soap and lotions. He formulates, makes, packages and sells them all across the country via a Facebook page – under the label facebook.com/Acorn-Ridge-Simply-Natural-LLC-1595146940790213/" target="_blank">Acorn Ridge Simply Natural. Goat milk is a natural exfoliant, with alpha hydroxy acid that sloughs off dead skin. It also has small fat globules, glycerin, vitamins, minerals and a low pH, among other benefits. As a member of the American Goat Association, Puterbaugh qualifies to compete in the organization’s annual “Bath and Body Products” competition. There he consistently places at the top with his preparations.
Having the dairy breakfast at the farm will help the Puterbaughs put out the word about goats and their many benefits. The brothers said they’re excited to be hosts. They’re looking forward to showing their does and kids to a wider gathering.
Visit bit.ly/dairylocations for more information on all 2019 dairy breakfasts.