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New Zealand Arapawa Goat Association

New Zealand Arapawa Goat Association

(Incorporating the International Arapawa Goat Association)


Make Mine Milk!

Andrea Gauland, Te Hua Farm, North Canterbury, NZ

Hand milking
Hand milking

A small but potentially productive package, the Arapawa Island Goat is a wonderful addition to any lifestyle block, particularly if the big milkers are not your cup of tea. About half the size of a standard dairy goat breed, the Arapawa will give proportionally less milk, but with less input as well.

A young doe at her first kidding, also known as a first freshener, will have a small, compact but well-attached udder. The teats can be on the small side, making hand-milking harder for those with large hands. However, they are quite suited to a milking machine. By the second year, the doe’s udder will have expanded, quite possibly to double the size of her first year. By her third or fourth year her udder will have reached full capacity. When looking for your milker, be sure to view her dam in-milk if you can, as it will provide a good look at the future of your doe’s udder.

Machine milking
Machine milking

You could expect up to 1½ litres a day with once a day milking. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but a pair of milking Arapawa does could provide the family with three litres of milk a day and eat less than one full-sized dairy goat. The added-value of Arapawa Goat’s milk is its taste and butterfat content. It may be quite a challenge, but if you can arrange for a taste test of various breeds of goats’ milk, the Arapawa milk will have a distinctly sweet and nutty flavour to it, almost a hint of sweet, raw almonds, and feel much richer in the mouth. The butterfat content can be as high as that of an Anglo Nubian, based on my simple at-home testing for milk solids (separating the curds from the whey). And it makes wonderful fresh and aged cheeses.

The Arapawa doe settles in well to a daily milking routine. Share-milking with her kids and milking once a day in the morning is well-suited to most schedules, as the kids can be removed in the evening once they are a couple of weeks old and off to a good start on their dam’s colostrum. The does are milked in the morning and then the kids are let out to be with mum and feed throughout the day. In our experience the Arapawa does are very nurturing mothers, quite attached to their kids, and don’t usually wean them until they are nearly a year old. We even had one feeding her doe kid till the ‘kid’ was nearly two years old, and bigger than her mum!

The Arapawa Island Goat does come with the same challenges as with any goat. Stout fencing is the number one requirement, as they tend to challenge fences more than their dairy counterparts. We have found that lining the fencing with electric outriggers keeps them far enough from the fencing that it is no longer an issue, and standard sheep netting keeps them where they are meant to be.

Goats require minerals quite different from sheep, so a mineral mixture formulated for goats is necessary to support the Arapawa’s hardy constitution. Failure to do so can lead to long-term metabolic disorders.

Rich feeds aren’t required in their diet, but a supplement of rolled barley and some lucerne chaff will go a long way toward increasing production. Any new feed should always been introduced gradually, to allow the gut flora of the rumen to adapt. Seaweed meal added to the diet wouldn’t go amiss, as they have evolved on the beaches of Arapawa Island and often seen feeding on seaweed washed on shore.

On milking stand
At the milking stand

Having spent many years in the extreme climate of Arapawa Island, the goats have adapted to become quite hardy. They have black skin, which makes them nearly impervious to sun burn and skin cancer, something that affects many pink-skinned goats. They do need rough, dry ground to be able to get off the wet when there are heavy rains for extended periods, or foot problems will ensue. Problems such as foot scald, foot rot, and abscesses, as well as shelly-toe (a condition where soft earth and wet faecal matter is packed up inside the hoof wall leading to lameness and possibly infection). If the rough or gravelly ground or small boulders can not be provided, pallets off the wet ground will do, but the goats will need more hoof trimming, as the wood is not rough enough for the hooves to wear down naturally. I usually only trim my Arapawa Goats’ hooves 1-2 times a year as that’s all that’s needed. Providing the proper goat minerals will also help foot and hoof health. All goats require a place to be able to shelter completely from wind, rain and harsh sun.

In addition to their lively, friendly and inquisitive natures, with the Arapawa Island Goats you get a productive animal, well-suited to a lifestyle block way of life.

Very simple homemade cheese: Queso Blanco.

Arapawa kids
Arapawa kids

Heat two litres of goat’s milk over a low heat to 82°C, stirring often to keep it from scorching. Add ¼ cup vinegar (our preferred is apple cider vinegar), stirring all the while. You will see the curds separate from the whey. Pour or ladle the curds and whey through a finely woven cotton tea towel, mutton cloth or cheesecloth. Tie into a bag and hang for several hours up to overnight, until the curds stop dripping. Unwrap from cloth and you can store it, wrapped in cling film, in the fridge for up to a week. This simple cheese can be cubed and fried without worry of it melting, and can be a nice snack for children with the addition of the seasonings of your choice. It has a bland, slightly sweet flavour on its own. Before you tie up to drain, you can also stir through things like jalapeno chillies, olives, sun dried tomatoes, a bit of sea salt and fresh herbs – feel free to experiment! Then tie up, drain as above and when you slice it, you have your flavourings already added, and it’s also quite pretty.

As published in Rare Breeds NewZ for November 2009.


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New Zealand Arapawa Goat Association

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