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Chickens drink goat milk

October 14, 2010

During the hot, milky months of summer, we sometimes have to dump milk. It usually involves human error, such as over-pasteurization, or scalding, of the milk – a crime I’ve been guilty of on more than one occasion. I generally have a really good excuse to leave the stove while pasteurizing, but it doesn’t make me feel better about throwing out a gallon or two of hard-won goat milk. Sometimes the goats are directly to blame for wasted milk. An irritated goat can put her foot in the milking pail with startling speed and a sniper’s accuracy. No amount of super-ultra-magna-pasteurization can erase the image of that hoof going in the bucket, so the whole load gets thrown out.

Other times we simply can’t consume the amount of milk produced. With just two goats making about seven gallons a week, it’s hard to use it all. Cheesemaking is the obvious solution and my freezer can attest to the amount of chevre I made this summer (and am still making several times a week,) but sometimes we do run out of cheese culture…or time. When that happens we give the milk to the chickens.

I haven’t found too many things chickens refuse to eat – or drink. Unlike ducks and most of the goats we’ve had, chickens eat nearly everything we give them. Heck, they eat rocks, so an eggplant or a piece of cake or the remains of a pork roast or a raw striped bass rack is reason for celebration. Meanwhile the ducks turn up their bills at leftover salad, and here I thought waterfowl naturally ate vegetation. Ours may be carnivores.

When we had pigs, they were first in line for leftovers and handouts. I had read about the pigs growing well with whey as a supplement, so I dutifully tossed them the remains of every chevre or feta I made. On days when I didn’t feel like chilling and filtering the milk, or I simply wanted to spoil them, I poured the pigs a fresh, warm bucketful of milk. Now we are swine-less, and not happily so. I miss them, but I miss the price tag at the grain store much, much less. We’ll have pigs again, hopefully, but in the meantime the chickens are happy to pick up the farmyard slack and do some serious recycling.

I shot a little footage of the chickens happily lapping up a fresh bowl of goat milk, but I had to film the festivities through the chicken wire of their outdoor run because my son was very nervous about the poof-head rooster. After tangling with the big red rooster, he’d had enough of their kind.

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