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MANUAL ON GOAT MANAGEMENT AND

CHEESE PRODUCTION
One of the production activities we carry out at the Pirque
Agroecological School (EAP) is producing goat milk and cheese. We have
a livestock of 120 adult goats and 20 spare baby goats that are 100%
Saanen breed. As for our facilities, we are equipped with a goat stable,
fields for grazing and a dairy where we manufacture our own products.

The Saanen breed is known as a “dual purpose” goat due to the fact that
it can be used for both milk and meat production. Originally from the
Saane Valley, located in Switzerland´s Canton of Bern, these goats have
been spread out around the world since 1893. Today they are
considered the most frequently bred dairy goats, living in relatively large
herds and adapting well to mechanical milking systems.

Chart
Characteristics of the Saanen breed.

• White-coated animal with delicate skin and pinkish mucous


membranes, although some goats do have black spots on the
udders and ears.
• Very mild tempered and adapt well to stables.
• Because of their light coloring they do not endure long periods of
sun exposure.
• Their size can vary, since breeding practices differ in different
countries. However, they are generally tall and heavy animals,
ranging from 70 to 90 cm in height and weighing between 60 and
75 kg.
• Although male offspring destined for meat production are born
boney, they easily gain weight.
• They adapt extremely well to mechanical milking systems due to
the shape of their udders. This allows for numerous goats from the
same herd to be easily managed.
• The average rate of offspring per birth is 1.8, although this data
can vary depending on the selection of breeding goats.
• Their sexual behavior depends heavily on the seasons and
whether. In countries with continental climates, where
temperatures remain constant and there is abundant luminosity,
the percentage of female anestrous periods (sexual inactivity)
decreases, providing conditions for enhanced breeding.
• Lactation periods are quite long, ranging from 270 to 280 days.
Depending on the goat management, daily milk production can
range from 2 to 6 liters, with a fat content of 3.5%.

GOAT MANAGEMENT

All animal breeding must begin by identifying production objectives. For


goats, we have the following options: dairy goats, meat goats, dual
purpose (meat and dairy), hide and fiber, or fertilizer. Once we have
determined the activity we can begin organizing and managing the goat
herd.

1. Dividing the goat herd

Different categories exist in order to divide the herd, depending on age,


sex and function:

Category Description
Doe or Nanny Female goat that has given birth. After six years her
milk production begins to diminish.

Buck or Billy Male goat that has not been castrated. Stud.

Kids or Yearlings Young goats of either sex from birth until the
weaning period when they begin to feed more on
fodder than on milk.

Open Doe Female adult that has not yet given birth.

Buckling Weaned male that has not been castrated but still
not ready for reproduction.

Wether Castrated male goat.

Dividing our herd into categories eases all organizational aspects related
to reproduction, breeding and exploiting the goats. At EAP, we divide the
does from kids, and the bucks from the bucklings. The does are kept in
the main stable while the kids are kept in a secondary stable until they
are one year old. The bucks are kept in a separate area specifically set
aside for them.
2. Health

Like all animal care, the health of the goats should be dealt with a
PREVENTATIVE manner. The best way to ensure this is through constant
care and cleanliness of the animal and its environment. At EAP, the
goats are not vaccinated, rather treated once a year for parasites.

One way to prevent disease is learning to identify a sick goat from a


healthy one by observing their behavior (sick goats tend to display
unusual behavior). This way we can take quick action to treat the sick
goats, preventing the disease from spreading.

Affected area Healthy goat Sick goat

Behavior Maintains close contact Abandons the rest of the


with the rest of the herd to look for places
herd, displays energy to lie down and hide.
and only lies down to
ruminate or sleep.

Hair Shiny and robust fur. Fur becomes dull, falls


out easily and
sometimes the skin
beneath begins to flake.

Eyes Lively and brilliant with Sleep can begin to


pink mucous develop in the eyes and
membranes. mucous membranes take
on a pale or yellow
color.
Body Condition Displays normal, active Decreased energy and
behavior and healthy weight loss.
weight.

Eating Habits Most of the time is Eats little and hardly


spent eating and ruminates.
ruminating.

Most common goat illnesses:


• Parasites: Both interior and external parasites can affect goats,
causing much harm if not cared for properly. The most frequent
symptoms include weight loss and an overall decline in the animal
´s energy and normal behavior. There are many medications to
combat parasites. However, the most important factors to keep in
mind include treating the animals according to the time of year,
their present condition (young pregnancy, mature pregnancy,
already a mother, etc.) and the accessible resources to treat them.

• Brucellosis: This bacterial disease can be transmitted to humans


(zoonosis), causing remittent fever. In goats, it frequently causes
abortion or fatal birth defects that kill the newborn a few days
after birth. This is why brucellosis must be caught and treated
prematurely. In order to control this disease, blood analyses are
performed and if sick animals are discovered they must be
eliminated from the livestock. This is the only way we can combat
Brucellosis.

• Enterotoxemia-pneumoenteritis: Extremely common diseases


in newborn goats. Is is characterized by abundant diarrhea
followed by death. This is why a vaccination is administered to the
mother while pregnant, so as to pass on the defenses to her kids
when feeding on colostrum.

• Ecthyma (warts): This viral disease hinders the growth of kids,


who receive a vaccination one month after birth (the one and only
during their lives). The goats may still get infected later on in life
but with less severe lesions.

• Coccidiosis or Cocci: An internal parasite that destroys the lining


of the small intestine causing severe diarrhea and eventually
death if not treated. Kids are more susceptible to death. This
parasite tends to live in damp and small corrals with little
ventilation. The best method of preventing coccidiosis is to
improve hygienic conditions of the corral installations.

• Foot rot: Most frequently seen during the rainy season, this
fungus infection can cause lameness in the hoof. It usually occurs
due to the lack of hoof trimming or living in wet pens for an
extended period of time. Prevention methods include trimming the
animal hoofs at least twice a year.

• Mastitis: The inflammation of the udders due to a variety of


causes, including bacteria, insects, rough handling, careless
milking practices, etc. Mastitis begins to display symptoms once it
is already in an advanced stage. Though all treatment involves
general antibiotics, depending on the severity of the case, a local
injection in the udder may be necessary.

• Mineral deficiency: In some breeding areas the earth does not


provide the minerals goats need (iodine, magnesium, copper,
etc.). This problem is solved by placing mineral blocks in the
corrals and, in severe cases, mineral injections are administered.

At EAP, our goats are healthy and do not require a constant vaccination
program. The government´s Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG)
carries out annual inspections and takes blood samples, testing for
salmonellosis, brucellosis and other diseases. Fortunately we´ve never
encountered a problem with these illnesses.

In order to prevent outbreaks of mastitis at EAP we take the following


precautions:

a. Thorough cleansing of the udders with water at a temperature of


35°C. This is followed by drying the udders before milking.
b. Adhering to adequate milking procedures with the standard
equipment made for this purpose, always taking precautions to
never over milk.
c. After milking, the goats undergo what is called a “teat dip”,
procedure that consists of immersing the udders in a mixture of
iodine and alcohol, forming a protective film that seals the teat
openings and prevents contamination.

3. Feeding

Many people think goats are harmful to the environment since they eat
a large variety of vegetables, plants, leaves and flowers. However, these
animals select their food with care, eating the most digestible and
nutrient rich parts of plants, whether fodder or wild plants. This is due to
the fact that goats require high levels of nutrition in relation to their
small size and the large quantities of milk that they produce.

Our goats are secluded to stables during Chile´s winter months from
May until September, mostly feeding on alfalfa bundles and almond
shells. In spring, their feed is complemented with fresh pasture, which
they consume directly from the fields within the EAP installations until
March and April. Our goats also receive a protein and energy
complement and certain vitamins necessary for their development.

Goats require less water intake than other livestock, such as cows or
sheep. However, this does not mean water is a minor factor in their
feeding. It is necessary to keep a trough in the grazing areas so the
goats do not drink from stagnant water sources. Like all animals, they
require fresh, clean water.

Types of food

• Browse, herbaceous plants and pasture/leguminous plants:


Browse refers to the edible parts of woody plants, in other words,
leaves, trunks, shrubs or brush. Herbaceous plants are the weeds
that sprout up between grasses. Fodder provides a major part of
the nutrients required for maintaining a healthy goat. It is crucial
to know the nutritional importance of fodder in order to
complement it when necessary. Generally, fodder collected in
August is low in phosphorus and salt levels and contains little
vitamin A, calcium and other important minerals.

• Hay and roughage: Hay from quality pasture or leguminous


plants is an excellent source of highly digestible nutrients.
Cottonseed meal is also popular roughage used to feed goats.

• Silage and roots: Silage is mainly used for dairy goats but it is
not as common as hay. These animals enjoy eating roots and
vegetables, such as carrots, beets and cabbage, which should be
supplied in the same proportion as the silage, since the latter
contains large amounts of water. The roots should be cut into
small pieces. To avoid strange tasting milk, it is recommended to
supply both feeds four hours before or after milking.

• Energy feeds: The most common energy feeds include corn,


oats, barley, sorghum, wheat and their sub-products and weeds.
The amount fed depends on the production demand. For example,
a dry doe does not need an energy complement while a lactating
doe requires abundant energy from food.

• Protein feeds: The most used protein feeds include soybean


paste and cotton flour. Other possibilities include coconut paste,
peanut paste, sunflower seed paste and canola flour.

• Salt minerals: The does require a constant supply of mineral


salts. To supplement this need, salts can be added to their diet,
preferably mineralized salts with plenty of phosphorus. If the does
do not consume salt, they will most likely begin to eat earth and
chew plastics, papers, poles, wood, etc.
According to Chile´s National System for Certification of Organic
Products, goat management must adhere to the following regulations for
kids:

a. Kids must be weaned 60 days after birth.


b. Their feed must consist of their mother´s milk or, in emergency
cases, be substituted with organic cow milk.

The regulations for adult does are as follows:

a. They must graze in fields certified as organic.


b. They can be administered mineral and vitamin supplements only
when these substances do not come from a synthetic origin.
c. They should eat a portion of dry pasture or hayed pasture, but the
latter must not exceed 60% in relation to the former.
d. They can be fed seeds from plants such as corn, cotton, oats,
barley, among others, only when these are certified as organic.

Chart

Healthy and nutritive eating habits consist of the following:

Leguminous plants: Alfalfa Proteins.


Dry pasture Fiber and other nutrients.
Fresh pasture Fiber, water and proteins.
Seeds: Corn, oats and barley Energy.

A good diet is the most essential factor in raising a strong, healthy and
productive doe. Good nutrition guarantees around 60 to 70% of
successful exploitation. Therefore, it is recommended to accommodate
the nutritional needs of the animals depending on their physiological
state (pregnant does, newborn kids, growing kids, etc.).
Feeding advice in accordance with the goat´s condition:
Review the conditions, types of food and quantities based on to the
situation

Condition Recomendation
Does in lactation After parturition, the does should
progressively be fed more. During
this phase, the nutritional
demands are higher, forcing the
doe to use corporal reserves. They
should be fed lower quality fodder
with higher nutritional
concentration. The amount should
correspond to 2.5 kg of dry
material per day, per animal.
Dry does Depending on the type and quality
of the fodder, and the size and
condition of the doe, she should
receive from 0.5 to 1 kg of protein
during this period, along with a
prepared mixture of mineral salts.
Kids They should be fed 60-120 g. of
colostrum beginning as soon as
possible. A kid can consume 0.75-1
liters of colostrum per day. During
the lactation phase, free feeding
should be allowed for 60 days.
Afterwards, they should be allowed
to eat pasture little by little.
Female replacements Beginning around the 4 to 6 month
period, the animals should eat
good fodder and high quality hay.
They should also have access to an
open space where they can run
around and exercise. If the fodder
is good, 250g of grain per day is
more than enough. If the fodder is
low quality, the animals might
need 500-750 g per day of grains
like corn, wheat and oats.

4. Kidding

The females can enter heat year round. Hence, the manager must
decide the time for breeding. Ideally, all the pregnant does in the herd
should give birth around the same time so as to maintain
synchronization. The advantage of this is that the births will be
anticipated and the kids will be raised together. In order to accomplish
this, the doe and the buck must spend 45 to 60 days together and
afterwards be separated. At EAP, we breed the does twice a year.

During this process, we divide the does into two groups, alternating the
presence of two bucks at a time. The process is carefully performed so
as to avoid breeding a daughter with her father, since mating within the
same blood relationship deteriorates the breed. It is always a good idea
to breed with new blood and take advantage of the male´s
characteristics.
At EAP, the reproducing bucks are used as studs during 3 to 4 years,
depending on the amount of females in the herd and according to the
reproduction program. To clean the blood, the reproducing bucks can
alternated with a different buck or completely new buck can be
introduced into the herd.

As for the does, they are ready to be bred once they are one year old
and reach a weight of 28 to 30 kilos. They can have a litter of 2 or 3 kids.

It is not recommended to breed very young does, even if they have


entered heat (anywhere from 4 to 7 months of age). This may ruin the
reproductive life of the animal. Normally, the does are ready to breed
once they reach a weight of 28 to 30 kilos or are one year old.

Some sure ways to know if the doe has entered the gestation period:

• After three weeks of being with a buck the doe does not display
evidence of heat.
• After six weeks the vulva enlarges.
• After 12 weeks (three months) her abdomen is clearly swollen.

Gestation process

The gestation period lasts approximately five months (between 150 and
160 days). It can sometimes be shorter in cases where multiple offspring
are expected. The first time a doe gives birth it can only have one
offspring, as opposed to older adults who can have two, three and even
four.

Drying the milk flow of pregnant does

Drying the milk flow of does is suggested once the doe reaches three
months of pregnancy. This practice ensures that the doe recuperates
lactation and produces colostrum for her new offspring. The doe will also
have more time to prepare for the parturition and the offspring will grow
up healthily. One way to perform this process is to milk every other day
during a week and then cease milking. The drying is produced quicker if
food and water rations are reduced for one or two days, making sure not
to harm the offspring. Another method is to keep the pregnant doe away
from milking areas so as to avoid any stimulus of producing milk.

Parturition management

Most pregnant does display symptoms that allow us to determine if they


are near parturition. The following are some indications:
• Thick yellowish secretions in the vulva.
• Three or four days before the parturition the udders increase in
size.
• One to two days before parturition, pregnant does become uneasy,
tending to gaze every now and then at the sides of their stomachs.
They also lie down and stand up rapidly, displaying evident
anxiety.
• Their breathing becomes agitated, they lick themselves more than
usual and try to kick their stomachs.
• Large dimples appear on both sides of their rear end.

All pregnant does on the verge of parturition must be kept together in


calm environments, separated from the dominant does.

When the does are on the verge of parturition, the following precautions
should be taken to ensure minimized offspring mortality during the first
week of life:

• The corral for the new offspring must be prepared properly. It is


essential that it be a dry area within or near the corral where the
mother are kept. The kids must stay inside the corral while their
mothers graze in the fields for at least the first 20 days of life.

• One week before parturition, the does must have their tails
trimmed in order to avoid the sticking of blood and other deposits
from birth, which continue to flow out of the mother for two weeks
following parturition.

• We must also take advantage of this time to trim the hoofs of the
females. This way we can avoid problems with hoof infection.

Care for the doe during and after parturition

Generally, the does give birth at night when there is more environmental
tranquility. During the parturition, the animal must be left alone. As the
parturition evolves, contractions become more continuous and a bag
with water will eventually appear from the vulva. This should break on
its own, indicating that the parturition channel has opened. Most does lie
down to give birth.

If the doe has not completed giving birth between 30 minutes to an hour
after breaking the bag with water, it means she needs assistance. In
some instances, the bag will break inside the doe. Abundant liquid
comes out of the doe will indicate if this has happened.

In normal parturitions, the offspring can either come out by the head or
feet. If the newborn comes out in a wrong position we must
accommodate it into a normal position without excessive force, pushing
inward during the contractions.

Keeping in mind there may be more than one offspring, we must be


careful not to mistake the feet of two kids while assisting in the
parturition.

When the kid is born, we must wait at least half an hour to verify if there
is another offspring still inside the mother. If there is more than one, the
time period between births can range from 5 to 20 minutes.

If the offspring is born suffocated and the doe cannot to do anything to


help, we must thoroughly clean the offspring´s nose and hang it from
the hoofs, moving it up and down until all the liquid is removed from its
lungs. Massaging the offspring´s ribs back and forth can also stimulate
the lungs and aid in this process.

After the normal or assisted parturition, we must pay attention to the


doe´s motherly instincts. Licking the offspring and stimulating it to stand
and feed from the udders are normal signs. However, some mothers do
not automatically recognize their offspring, in which case it is a good
idea to tie the two together with a rope for two or three days, until the
mother accepts her kid.

We should also pay attention to whether or not the mother has expelled
the placenta, which generally happens a half hour to an hour after the
parturition. If two hours go by without expelling the placenta it is
considered to be lodged or retained inside the body. Dislodging the
placenta requires a special treatment and it should never be taken out
forcefully.

The newborn kid will usually stand after 10 to 30 minutes following birth
and will look for a way to feed from its mother. We must make sure that
the offspring feed from the colostrum at the latest four hours after birth.

Chart
Colostrum is a fluid discharge that mammals release during the first hours following
parturition. Different from milk in its thick consistency and yellowish color, it also acts as a
laxative for the offspring´s meconium (first fecal excretion). The most important aspect of
colostrum is that it provides the antibodies newborn kids need, assuring immune protection
against microbial aggressions during the first hours after birth.

If the newborn does not receive colostrum from its mother, due to her
death during parturition, mastitis, etc., a substitute must be provided by
another doe from the herd that gave birth the same day. In situations
where the mother rejects her newborn, breastfeeding can also be
simulated with a baby´s bottle. This is not uncommon for mothers to
display little interest in their offspring. However, some mothers end up
adopting kids that are not their own.

It is not advisable to breed the doe again until 3 months after giving
birth. This time period is given so she can fully recuperate.

5. Raising kids

During the first three to four days, the kids should be with their mothers
all the time in order to consume as much colostrum as possible.

Beginning on the fourth day and until three weeks of age, they should
drink from one to one and a half liters of milk a day. This consumption
can occur in two doses per day.

Beginning the second or third week they should be kept in separate


corrals and begin to eat hay, grain or branches from woody trees.

After two months they should be given the same amount of milk, hay
and grains. Also, this is a good time to begin letting them out of the
corral to graze in the fields where they can feed freely on mineral salts.
After four months the males and females should be separated.

While the weaning can be safely achieved after five or six weeks of age,
it is usually done after three or four months. When the weaning period
comes closer it is a good idea to add lukewarm water to the kid´s diet,
lowering the stress of this process.

When commercially managing goats, weaning is performed the first day.


If the offspring are male they are killed and sold for meat due to the fact
that they are not economically profitable.

At EAP, however, we wait at least two months to wean the kids, avoiding
problems with mastitis (due to retaining milk) and allowing them to grow
up healthy. On the other hand, we have noticed that keeping a mother
together with her kids provides good conditions for milk production, not
only in quality but also in quantity.

Once weaned, the kids are separated from their mothers but kept in a
next door corral until they are one year old and prepared for breeding.
Then we join them with the rest of the adult herd, which is divided into
two groups depending on the month the doe will give birth—either
August or May. The point of taking this measure is to maintain milk
production year round.

GOAT MILK PRODUCTION

Here at the Pirque Agroecological School we only specialize in raising


and breeding dairy goats. They produce approximately two liters of milk
a day from only one milking session, although ideally milking should be
performed twice a day.

We avoid milking the doe the first five days after parturition since this is
the time in which she feeds her kid colostrum, essential for the kid´s
growth. After five days and during the following week she is milked only
a third of her normal production capacity, leaving the rest for her kid to
feed on. During the following month she is milked for only 50% her
production capacity and afterwards we gradually begin the weaning
process.

Milk is elaborated through a complicated process that takes place in the


mammary gland. It is produced by elements that come from a synthesis
and filtration of the blood capillaries. Five hundred liters of blood within
the animal are required to produce one liter of milk.

Goat milk is of equal or higher quality than cow milk, depending on the
factors under which the milk is analyzed. Its characteristics differ in taste
and functions—it is sweeter than cow milk and has special properties
that benefit babies, children and the elderly.

Milking process

a) Before milking

Cleanliness and tranquility for the doe are two great secrets for
producing high quality milk. Since stress can induce low performance, it
is very important to not rush or yell at the does. Also, neither bucks nor
any other animal should be allowed into the milking parlor while milking
—this will make the does nervous.
It is advisable to always milk the does in the same place and at the same
time. If the area is not clean, flies can cause infection and interfere in
the process.

During the first minutes of milking, the does produce a hormone that
serves to stimulate milk production. Since this hormone is produced for
a very short period of time (around 5 minutes), it is advisable to milk the
doe as fast as possible.

It is essential that the milkers thoroughly wash their hands before


milking. This measure is taken to avoid contaminating the milk and
propagating diseases from one doe to another.

In order to milk a doe, it is always important that she is healthy and


clean.

b) Milking procedure

Cleanse the udders and teats with clean water, preferably lukewarm.
Make sure to dry the udders and teats, never leaving them damp. Gently
massage the udders in a downward and constant movement. Delicacy is
one of the main factors that will determine a higher production of milk.

c) After milking

After milking, submerge the doe´s teat in water or, better yet, in water
mixed with a disinfectant. Put the milk in a clean bucket, which must be
washed out as soon as it is no longer being used. It is best to leave the
buckets drying face down. Also, the towels used to dry the udders and
your hands should be frequently cleaned in boiling water. At EAP, we
carry the milk from the milking parlor to the dairy in aluminum barrels.

OUR DAIRY

The Foundation has one dairy that functions year round. Primarily
dedicated to the elaboration of goat cheese, it also produces a small
quantity of cow cheese during June, since the goats do not produce
much milk during this month.

The dairy produces 18 varieties of cheese that are divided into the
following two groups: soft pressed cheeses and all others that age from
18 to 25 days at 18°C with a humidity level of approximately 80%.

Chart
Types of cheese made at EAP

Crottin
Of French origin, this cheese is made in a round form and has a spicy
taste. Elaborated from goat milk, its weight is no heavier than 150 gr.
with a diameter of 5cm. and a height of 4cm. It is usually eaten fresh but
can also undergo a one month treatment to last longer, in which case a
white moldy rind is formed around the cheese. It is custom to season
this cheese with aromatic herbs—we use green onion, chives or pepper.
It has a total fat content of approximately 45%.

Feta cheese
This cheese is typically eaten in Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria. Very
traditional in these parts of the Mediterranean, its origins date back to
Classical Greece. Feta is an extremely white cheese with no rind and is
usually sold in small square or rectangular portions. Its consistency is
solid but flexible and its taste is a bit salty with a pinch of acidity—goes
very well with salads. It has a total fat content of 43%.

Camembert
This is one of the most famous cheeses in the world. It was elaborated
for the first time in Normandy, France, in 1791. Its consistency is soft,
sticky and uniform and its taste very unique, caused by the Penicillium
fungus used in its production. When not being consumed, it should
remain in its wrapping, since this cover allows the fungus to breathe,
keeping the cheese in an optimum state of quality. It is sold in units of
100 gr. each.

Brie
Similar to Camembert, Brie has a white semi-spongy but crusty covering,
produced by the Penicillium fungus, which also gives this cheese its very
special taste. Brie combines well with fruit and jams and is used
frequently in deserts. It can also be eaten along with a variety of other
high quality cheeses. It is sold in units of 150 to 180 gr.

Lactic cheese
Acidic and sticky, this cheese is elaborated entirely with goat milk. It is
ideal for cocktails, salads, bread and crackers. It is very versatile,
although it needs refrigeration to be kept fresh. This cheese is
developed slowly, going through a process that lasts around five days. It
can be aged at a temperature of 18°C, and then exposed to air in order
to remove the rind. At EAP, we elaborate this cheese in the following
varieties: natural, covered in merkén (smoked ground pepper) or
oregano, and marinated in olive oil and other spices.

Queso fresco
This is a fresh, soft pressed cheese that, apart from being curdled,
contains lactic properties and essences. It is light, consistent and fine
tasting. Though it can be eaten 24 hours after elaboration, it should be
refrigerated for later consumption. As a queso fresco (fresh cheese) it
lasts up to a week, after which it is considered a semi-aged cheese. At
EAP, we elaborate this cheese in the following varieties: natural, olive,
pepper, chive, oregano and merkén.

Quesillo
Similar texture as the queso fresco but with the difference that it is not
pressed. Its basic elaboration consists of curdling milk with salt. It is
commonly eaten by people on a diet and goes very well with salads and
fresh foods. As with the queso fresco, quesillo requires refrigeration.

Aged goat cheese


This is an aged, greasy cheese with the incomparable taste of goat milk.
Its edible lifespan lasts six months, during which it can either be kept at
room temperature (continuing the maturing process) or refrigerated (in
this case, it should be taken out of the fridge an hour before serving in
order to maintain the cheese´s organoleptic characteristics). We
elaborate this cheese in several varieties, including natural, with red
peppers, oregano and merkén.

Ricotta
Ricotta is a white colored lactose derivative, physically similar to queso
fresco. This is a thick and grainy cheese, somewhat dry with a mild taste
but it sometimes has a sour pinch. It is frequently prepared and
seasoned as fillings for pasta; in baking, it serves as an ingredient for
tarts, pies or cakes; and many people enjoy eating breakfast with
ricotta, spreading it on toast and adding a few droplets of honey.

PROCEDURE OF CHEESE PRODUCTION

To see the specific recipes for individual cheeses that we make at the
Foundation, review Our Cheeses.

There are three essential steps in elaborating cheese:

1. Pasteurizing the milk


2. Curdling: Occurs when the milk coagulates
3. Draining whey: Extraction of the whey left in the milk
4. Aging: Microbial process that transforms the curdled milk

1. Pasteurizing the milk


Pasteurization is an operation that relies on heat to destroy pathogenic
microorganisms and left over germs in certain food products. It is used
for hygienic purposes or for conserving foods, while preserving the
majority of the product´s physical, biochemical and organoleptic
characteristics.

• Slow pasteurization: This is the process we use at EAP. It


consists of heating the milk at temperatures of between 62 to 64
ºC during a time period of 30 minutes. The milk is heated in
stainless steel jacketed tanks (double walled) that vary in size,
usually from 200 to 500 liters. Steam produced in between the
walls of the tanks heats up the milk, which is shaken every now
and then by a mechanical devise with the aim of unifying the
contents. Slow pasteurization is adequate for processing
anywhere from small quantities of milk up to 2,000 liters a day. In
other circumstances, this method should not be used.

• Flash pasteurization: Also called “High Temperature Short


Time” processing (HTST), this treatment consists of heating the
milk at temperatures of 72 to 75ºC during a time period of 15 to
20 seconds. The milk is forced between metal plates or through
pipes heated on the outside by hot water. Sliding over metal
sheets, the milk begins to form thin layers of about 1 millimeter
thick. In industry production, flash pasteurization is used for its
efficiency. It eliminates 99.5% of germs without altering natural
characteristics of the product, particularly the taste. This method
is used for large quantities of milk, hence involves a complex and
advanced mechanical structure, which in turn is more expensive.

At EAP, our standard practice involves allowing the recently pasteurized


milk to cool down until reaching a temperature of 35°C. Since this is
quite a slow process, we speed it up by applying what is known as a
bain-marie, which shoots cold water through a circulatory system
already incorporated into our 500 liter milk tubs.

Lactic fermentation

This is the most common practice for elaborating soft cheese. It also
happens to be the oldest form of cheese production since it is a natural
process that occurs due to the lactic bacteria that live in milk. This type
of bacteria reacts with the lactose (the sugar in milk), decomposing it
until converting it into lactic acid. Identified and isolated, this specific
bacterium has been commercialized as a fermentation agent for direct
milk culturing.
Lactic acid is freed little by little, progressively increasing the milk´s
acidity. When the acidity level reaches 4.6, the liquid mass coagulates
and precipitates. In our dairy, in order to generate an effective
coagulation, acidity levels begin with a ph of 5.2 (55-60 degrees dornic).

Lactic coagulation depends on the following elements:

• The amount of time and conditions of storage, which directly affect


the bacterial populations and hence the production of acid.
• The type and amount of bacteria that live in the milk.
• The temperature of the environment, which increases or decreases
the bacterial population.
• The presence of antibiotics or antiseptics that can destroy
bacteria.
• The bacterial population varies from one instant to the next.
Therefore, it is preferable to use milk during the first hour after
milking and not mix milk produced on different days, given that its
composition is not the same.

The curd obtained from lactic coagulation presents the following


characteristics:

• Friable: Breaks up easily.


• Permeable: With lots of whey.
• The curds do not contract very much.
• Very humid.

Lactic fermentation is very important for controlling undesired bacteria


that tend to be responsible for premature inflation in cheese. It allows
efficient draining of whey, prevents other undesired fermentations and is
crucial for the aging and development of taste, apart from definitively
influencing the texture and coherence of the cheese. Adequate
acidification proves to be an essential stage in making goat cheese,
influencing the rest of the steps that follow.

Rennet

Rennet derives from the stomachs of young ruminants that still feed on
milk from their mothers. Vegetable rennet also exists, extracted from
plants and other microbial sources. The main enzymes that cause rennet
to react are called pepsin and chymosin. These enzymes act on protein
structures when they reach a determined temperature, forming a type of
net that retains the majority of lactic solids, fat globules, minerals and
whey.

The speed and capacity of rennet are influenced by the following factors:
• Acidity of milk: The rennet reacts in a slightly acidic environment.
• Amount of rennet: The amount of milk can range from 2,000 to
15,000 times the amount of commercial rennet with a strength of
10,000 (in other words, 520 mg/l of chymosin; the strength is
measured in liters of curdled milk with 1 liter of rennet in 40
minutes at 35ºC).
• Temperature of the milk: The optimum temperatures range from
35 to 43 ºC. It heavily decreases at 20ºC and becomes inactive
once reaching 5ºC or on the upper extreme, reaching 60ºC.
• Calcium presence: Calcium´s soluble salts assist the activity of
rennet.
• The amount of soluble nitrate in milk affects its curdling. If there is
too high a level, it will protect the casein particles that prevent
curdling. This explains why colostrum cannot be used to make
cheese—it has an elevated concentration of these salts. It also
explains why the pasteurization of milk for elaborating cheese
must be performed adhering to the following methods:
o At 62ºC during 30 minutes.
o At 72ºC during 16 seconds.

Draining whey

This process consists of draining the liquids produced during the


coagulation. The amount of whey and its composition vary depending on
the kind of cheese that is being made. Likewise, these factors depend on
the kind of curdling process that the milk has undergone.

This stage comes primary to the elaboration of cheese because it is


intimately related to the quality and consistency of the final product. The
following factors favor a successful draining of whey:

• Room temperature: The lower the temperature, the longer the


process takes. It is important to maintain room temperature during
the entire process, especially when introducing the curds into
molds.
• Acidity: This is extremely important for elaborating mixed cheeses
that combine lactic and rennet fermentation. Many of the cheeses
produced at EAP are made in this manner and do not require
mechanical intervention, except for turning the cheeses. This
allows the correct amount of acidity to collect in the cheese and
accompany a successful draining process. However, when too
much rennet prevails, the acidity levels multiply. This makes the
substance crumbly and difficult to perform the necessary turning
motions.
Draining goes hand in hand with how the milk is curdled. The following
descriptions display the one draining procedure for each curdling
method:

Lactic fermentation: Draining begins spontaneously when the curd is


introduced into the molds and due to its own weight the substance gets
compressed, eliminating the left over liquid with a considerable loss of
minerals, especially Calcium and Phosphate. The temperature acts in a
positive way because it favors the bacterial activity and therefore the
production of curd. The draining speed notably slows down at 20ºC and
completely stops at 10ºC.

Rennet: A mechanical draining devise is needed for this procedure due


to the characteristics of the type of curd produced. The curd must be cut
and kept for a while at a certain temperature previous to introducing it
into the mold. For this procedure we use a device called a lyre, named
after its resemblance to the musical instrument. Cutting the curd
multiplies the amount of sides from which the mass can leak but this
process is also usually accompanied by shaking to ensure straining as
much whey as possible. Higher temperatures also contribute to
achieving this effect.

Curds from mixed fermentation (lactic and rennet): This is the


system we use at EAP. The majority of our production falls under what is
considered French style goat cheese, which is made from mixed curds.
There are two ways to obtain mixed curds:

• Allowing the rennet curds to naturally become more


acidic, gradually acquiring the characteristics of curds made
by lactic fermentation.
• Adding rennet to the milk while undergoing lactic
fermentation, which accelerates the curdling process (this is
the system implemented at EAP). The curd displays
characteristics from both types of procedure but due to
eliminating certain minerals, the paste can crumble, which
means this is not a good method for elaborating large
cheeses. Since we do not produce cheese on a large scale at
EAP, we have chosen this system with the objective of
making many different types of cheese.

The role of Calcium is essential in the presentation of cheese, since it


functions as an agglutinating agent of the protein groups from milk or
from caseins. Phosphate calcium groups together the protein micelles
and therefore the amount of this mineral is directly related to the
strength and body of the cheese. The acid produced during lactic
fermentation dissolves the phosphate calcium links, which are then
eliminated during the draining process. This explains why cheese has
different shapes and sizes depending on the way it is elaborated. Small
cheeses belong to the lactic fermentation group while large cheeses
belong to the rennet group.

Aging

Aside from cheese meant to be consumed in the days following


production, the rest undergoes an aging process. This stage influences
the composition, appearance, consistency and taste of the cheese.

Aging is a complicated process that has yet to be entirely explored by


cheese producers. However, we can detail three fundamental
compounds affected by aging:

Lactose: This fermentable sugar transforms into lactic acid during the
aging process due to bacterial reactions. Unlike proteins, lactose plays
an extremely important role when determining the soft consistency of
cheese.

Fat: While there is still not much certainty as to what role fat plays
during the aging process, we do know a couple scientifically proven
facts. For example, skimmed milk produces cheeses that age very
quickly and less fat content in milk increases the danger of developing
microorganisms that damage the product. Also, the influence of fat on
the aroma, quality and originality of different cheese is unquestionable.

Caseina: This is the most affected during the aging process. It relates
directly to the consistency, aroma and taste of the cheese. The
combination of different microbial enzymes degrades the casein into
different compounds, a process known as proteolysis. Degrading the
casein is more important in qualitative terms than in quantitative. For
example, it has been proven that casein only acts on 25-30% of the total
protein in soft cheese.

The presence of acidity slows down the entire enzymatic process of


microorganisms during aging. For this reason it is important to be able to
neutralize acidity. The following methods display two ways to neutralize
acidity:

• Superficial inoculation of Pennicilium yeast and mold


(Candidum, Album or Glaucum), which consume lactic acid
in their metabolism and diminish acidity. Such a process
occurs with Camembert and Brie.
• Scattering on the surface a vegetable coal that
contains potassium. This will neutralize acidity.
The following factors affect the aging of cheese:

• The temperature at which the type of bacteria best develops.


• The relative humidity of the air and the humidity of the cheese
when aging.
• The ventilation of the aging room must assure a good level of
oxygen for the microorganisms. Incorrect ventilation will produce a
typical ammonia smell.
• The acidity: It is crucial to keep in mind that bacteria need a
neutral environment to develop but mold and yeast need an acidic
environment.
• Salting the cheese is also crucial to avoid undesired bacteria,
slightly drying the surface and forming a salt scab. There are two
ways of salting. One involves brine and the other entails adding
dry salt to the curd after draining. Infections are avoided because
of the scab formed on the surface of the cheese, formed by the
brine.

It is important to emphasize that all our cheeses are completely natural.


None contain any sort of preservative, stabilizer, artificial flavoring or
coloring. This means that once a client buys our cheese, it continues its
natural aging process.

Commercialization

Our program for producing cheese adheres to a calendar that lays out
our sales rotation. For example, while Feta cheese does not receive
much demand, our Crottin, lactic cheese and quesillo are very sought
out on the market. We also keep in mind the demand for different
products according to the season: During the summer, quesillo has a
high demand—used frequently in salads—while the consumption of
Camembert and Brie is more pertinent to winter months.

Highlights
Our cheese is certified by the Metropolitan Environmental Health Service
(Sesma). This means that we have government authorization to produce
and sell cheese. This regulation is particularly related to methods of
pasteurization, dairy asepsis and sanitary regulations. We are presently
in the process of gaining Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)
certification.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Sistematización experiencia educativa Escuela Agroecológica de Pirque
Guía de Producción Caprina: www.formosa.gov.ar
Guía para el manejo sanitario y reproductivo de las cabras:
www.pesacentroamerica.org
Alimentación de caprinos en pastoreo y/o estabulación:
www.angelfire.com
La cabra: www.sra.gob.mx
De la asociación uruguaya de técnicos en lechería
www.portalechero.com
Portal sobre quesos, cabras y ovejas. www.capraispana.com