HARRISBURG — Too few people drink goat milk or eat goat meat, farmers at the 103rd Pennsylvania Farm Show lamented.
They don’t know what they’re missing. Goat milk is the world’s most consumed milk while goat meat is the most consumed meat.
Goat milk has less sugar and more calcium, potassium and Vitamins A and B6 than cow’s milk, and a stronger taste that takes getting used to, farmers say. They say it’s easier to digest than cow’s milk because of its finer and softer curds.
Goat meat is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in protein and iron, making it a healthier choice than many other meats, the goat farmers said.
Besides, they say, goats are fun.
Cumberland County farmers entered goats in both meat and dairy judging at the Farm Show. Grace Diskin of Mechanicsburg and Brandon Burkholder of Newville showed meat goats while Abigail Beidel of West Newton Township showed dairy goats.
“We have 470 dairy goats entered in judging today,” said Helen Snyder, Farm Show dairy goat superintendent. “There’s a lot of interest in dairy goats. We have a generation of foodies who like goat cheese. Consumption of goat milk is rising.”
Goats dominated the Northwest barn Thursday and Friday. A parade of goats entered and exited the show ring, exhibitors leading them to and from their stalls as curious visitors admired and photographed them.
Goat milk or meat may not be on most people’s dinner tables, but Beidel said she’s happy that goats are a mainstay of the Farm Show.
The Big Spring High School sophomore, in her fifth year of Farm Show goat competition, brought three Nubians and five recorded grade goats to this year’s show. Beidel, a fourth-generation member of a dairy farm family, said that 11 of the 150 farm acres are reserved for goats.
Beidel clearly enjoys the personalities of her goats, whom she named Savannah, Rosemary, LuLu, Brooklyn, Harley, Lillie, Ellie May and Gemini. They come to her when called by name, nuzzling her affectionately.
“Goats are happy to be in the show ring because they are with their people and getting attention,” Beidel said. “Goats are friendly, curious and make great lawn mowers.”
Snyder said goat milk, good for drinking or making cheese, also is used in soaps and lotions. She said “goat yoga” also is hot these days, describing that as a yoga class with goats walking around to calm people.
While the goat show is fun, it’s also about the serious business of goat genetics, Snyder said. During a “Dam and Daughter” class, judges evaluated if the daughters were even better goats than the mothers. Another class, “Get of Sire,” featured judging of three daughters sired by the same buck.
“Goat genetics is the name of the game,” Snyder said. “Good genetics produce good goats.”
Snyder said this year’s dairy goat show featured 92 Alpines, 74 LaManchas, 81 Nigerian dwarfs, 60 Nubians, 49 Saanens, 38 Toggenburgs, 8 all other breeds and 68 recorded grades. The Farm Show also had 75 meat goats.