[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #8F9F59;”] G [/dropcap]iven Allansford is deep in cow country, Melissa Lewis is somewhat of a black sheep by using her 20-acre Allansford property to breed and milk goats.
Melissa, who grew up on a dairy farm near Mortlake and is a qualified animal nutritionist, has spent the past 18 months building up a herd of about 50 goats with a mix of Toggenburg (brown and white in colour), Saanens (all white) and British Alpine (black and white) that are all known for their high levels of milk production.
And it is the raw goat’s milk – and byproducts including cheese, yoghurt and icecream – that Melissa is most interested in developing through her Buddy Goat brand, rather than the more conventional path of using the milk to create soaps and cosmetics.
Despite there reportedly being 19 goats on board the First Fleet in 1788, Australia has never really embraced the idea of enjoying a chilled glass of fresh goat’s milk in the morning.
“It’s funny, but the thought of drinking goat’s milk puts a lot of people off and they are far more comfortable with goat’s cheese, yet there are so many health benefits to goat’s milk,” Melissa explains.
[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #8F9F59;”] M [/dropcap]elissa experienced these benefits first hand when her first son, Paddy, 4, developed asthma several years ago and she changed his diet from cow’s to goat’s milk. The asthma attacks stopped.
“We forget that goat’s milk is actually consumed more than any other milk around the world. It is easier to digest and a lot of people who can’t handle cow’s milk can drink goat’s milk,” Melissa says.
She tells the story of one man who was intolerant to cows milk but tried her goats milk and, for the first time in many years, was able to eat a bowl of breakfast cereal with milk. Another woman uses Melissa’s raw goat’s milk to bathe her young daughter who suffers severe eczema.
Most of Melissa’s raw goat’s milk is sold by a distributor into Melbourne and Geelong where there is a big demand among particularly the Greek and Italian communities for goat’s milk with which to make cheese.
[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #8F9F59;”] D [/dropcap]ue to stringent food regulations, Melissa is currently only permitted to sell her products marked for “cosmetic use only” and “not for human consumption”, but how customers choose to use the milk is ultimately their decision.
Having spent the past couple of years proving there is a growing market for goat’s milk, Melissa is planning to move into the next stage of commercial production.
Last September she and her husband Darcy, a fencing contractor, converted a cow dairy into a goat milking dairy where her girls line up each day – or twice a day when the milk production is high. They also plan to transform part of a large shed on their property into a commercial kitchen.
It is a significant investment, with a pasteuriser costing around $25,000 alone.
For Melissa, however, it is all about diversification. Apart from her own property, Melissa and her sister Nicole Ritchie run a 200-acre farm at Mortlake, across the road from their parent’s 1000-acre property where the sisters also agist cattle.
Two young sons and another baby on the way have also made life a little busier for Melissa, but she still has plenty of energy and enthusiasm for her new venture.
“It’s about trying new things, seeing where they go and diversifying, because you can’t survive off farming alone any more.”
[box type=”bio”] For more information on Buddy Goat, you can contact Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Facebook here. [/box]
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