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JANUARY 2018• COUNTRY LIFE IN BC


Goat farmers get behind new


dairy association United front needed as market for niche milk product grows


by MYRNA STARK LEADER CHILLIWACK – Western


Canada’s growing appetite for goat milk is sparking plans for a commercial dairy goat association. The proposal was discussed at the annual meeting of representatives from the 14 farms across BC and Alberta that supply Happy Days Dairies Ltd. in Chilliwack, November 11. Together, the farms milk


more than 6,000 goats. The milk is processed at Happy Days plants in Chilliwack, Salmon Arm and Ponoka, Alberta. The annual meetings give producers a chance to discuss pricing, common challenges, see each other’s farms and contine learning from experts and each other. “In 2008, we were facing a


large over-production that [Happy Days] couldn’t finance on its own,” says Happy Days founder Donat Koller. “This triggered the first meeting with myself and all the farmers to find a solution to the problem and, ever since, we meet once a year to discuss issues.” Koller says that as business operations became smoother, the meetings added an educational component to help producers build upon what had been accomplished.


Run by Koller, Happy Days began milking 70 goats in 1993 and processing the milk itself. Today, it’s the largest goat milk processor in Western Canada, processing 3.6 million litres in 2017 and on track for 3.8 million litres in 2018. Goat milk has been


increasing in popularity because it’s easier to digest for the lactose-intolerant and changing demographics mean Canada is home to more people who grew up with goats and are used to consuming the milk.


United front The idea of a commercial


dairy goat association for producers in BC and Alberta makes sense for the developing sector, says Merel Voth, who with her husband Barrie operates Hillside Dreams Goat Dairy near Salmon Arm. The couple have raised


dairy goats for four years and see a bright future for the sector. Barrie is an advocate of classification for dairy goats, which he believes is fundamental when establishing a well-rounded breeding program. Similarly, a commercial


dairy goat association would present a more credible image of producers as a unified group.


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41


Goat milk is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to traditional dairy products because it’s easier to digest for the lactose-intolerant. MEREL VOTH PHOTO


“They are all external indicators of strength,” explains Merel of the two initiatives. Merel, 33, is a mother of two and a part-time social


worker in addition to managing the farm. She birthed the association idea partly inspired by leadership at the October Women In Agriculture Conference in


Niagara. Before the Happy Days meeting, she gauged interest by sending out a two- minute online survey.


See GOAT on next page o CK Series Breakfast. Chores It eats for


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