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Real Info on Raw Milk?

 
Lila Stevens
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I have a few dairy goats, and have been drinking the raw milk, and making kefir and cheese from it for the last 8 months or so, and feeding it all to my 2-year-old as well. Well, I seem to be pregnant again, and am suddenly feeling more cautious. Pregnant women aren't recommended to drink raw milk, here in the US, anyway. From what I gather this is mainly due to the risk of listeria, and to a lesser degree ecoli and salmonella. I know very little about these things.

How is listeria transferred to the milk? A Google search seemed to indicate that if a goat has listeria, they will show pretty severe symptoms... you will have a pretty sick goat and probably won't be drinking their milk. But what if they very recently contracted it, and they transfer the disease to you before showing symptoms? It also seems that goats mainly get this disease from being fed silage... well, I don't feed silage. I am not stating any of this as fact... this is simply what I have read and am looking for clarification on.

Then, E-coli. I understand this comes from fecal contamination, right? So if I avoid that, should be ok, right? I keep things as clean and sanitary as possible, but of course nothing is 100%. For example, I brush my goats before milking to avoid hair dropping into the milk. But if a hair does drop in the milk, could it contaminate it with E Coli, if, say, the goat was lying on some of its own feces before that? And is salmonella transferred the same way?

Anything else I should be thinking about? I'm sorry this is so rambly... it is late and I've spent a lot of time on the internet trying to figure this out before I thought to consult some of the smartest people I have yet found on the internet; you Permies folks.

And please, even if you can't answer all of my crazy questions, any info you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
 
Deborah Niemann
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I know this is a hot topic, and I just always say that you should do whatever helps you to sleep at night. After all, we know stress is bad for you.

Everything you said is spot on. Listeria is a soil-born organism, and according to Diseases of the Goat (a book published in the UK where they aren't quite as rabid about raw milk as we in the US) it says that the organism can survive in the soil for months and in silage for five years. That's probably why we mostly hear about it in silage. We had one case of listeria here on our farm, and it was when we had been here for three years. Haven't had a case of it in the last 10. It was quite obvious the doe was sick. She couldn't stand and was holding her body in a c-shape, and her eyes were twitching. I would think that the longer you've had your goats, the lower the risk, assuming you are not feeding any type of silage, which includes foods like Chaffhaye. Of course, nothing is 100%. I always think it is important to note that there are plenty of food recalls due to listeria being found in pasteurized dairy products. They're contaminated after pasteurization because commercial dairies are filthy places. I subscribe to the USDA food recall email list, and we have about 25 recalls in any given month for a variety of reasons. Most don't make the news.

On the subject of e coli ... There are many strains, many of which are harmless to us, and our stomach acid normally kills it. However, people who take acid lowering drugs are at higher risk of food poisoning, so if you're taking something like Prevacid or Tums, that's something to take into consideration. E coli 0157:h7 is the one that normally causes kidney failure and/or kills people, and it's associated with feedlots. Because they're pushing grain, 0157:h7 builds up in the cattle's gut and is then shed in the feces. You are more at risk of that if you buy beef at the grocery store and then don't cook it long enough.
 
Raine Hogan
Posts: 28
Location: Salt Lake City
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Raw milk scares and health risks came about in the 1800's and early 1900's because dairies in large cities were feeding milk cows spent grains from breweries down the street. Cheap feed and the breweries got a small revenue from a waste product. It became so bad that the milk was turning BLUE. Yes, there are documented historical reports of blue milk and that dairies were mixing in chalk and other whitening agents to make it look like milk again.
Cows and goats digestive systems aren't made for grains. Cows are grazers, so there is a bit more of health risks from their raw milk that from goats. Goats are browsers, they won't touch food that has been contaminated with urine or fecal matter, theirs or others. Keep their food up off the ground and in holders that they can't climb in or on and you're more than half way to reducing your risks and feed bills. Better yet, rent them out to cler brush from city, county, or federal lands - free clean food and revenue.

I drank raw milk for a number of years, as did many members of my family - cow and goat. As a matter of fact, my youngest brother was raised on fresh raw goats milk due to an allergy to cows milk, as well as 2 of my grandchildren (they are 13 and 8 now). My husband and I buy raw milk froma local dairy because I can't drink the fake milk in the grocery stores - suspect pasturization and all of the meds they give the cows are the cause, not lactose intolerance or i wouldn't be able to handle the raw mik. Looking forward to being able to have my own goats soon.

Just practice common sense sanitary conditions, wash your hand, the utters and all utensils that you're using for the milk, strain with clean muslin, and keep it cold. You already know this and go beyond what most people consider due diligence for safety. The natural immunities that you have already built up from your exposure to raw milk will help the baby, where pasturized and homogenized milk from cows that are routinely given growth homones and antibiotics could adversely affect you and your children. IMHO.

Congratulations on your pregnancy, and many prayers for a happy and healthy future.
Raine
 
Kelly Smith
Posts: 699
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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Lila Stevens wrote:Well, I seem to be pregnant again


congrats!


Lila Stevens wrote:How is listeria transferred to the milk? A Google search seemed to indicate that if a goat has listeria, they will show pretty severe symptoms... you will have a pretty sick goat and probably won't be drinking their milk. But what if they very recently contracted it, and they transfer the disease to you before showing symptoms? It also seems that goats mainly get this disease from being fed silage... well, I don't feed silage. I am not stating any of this as fact... this is simply what I have read and am looking for clarification on.

i am not sure about listeria - i always understood it as something that would be obvious in the herd long before it showed up in the milk.

Lila Stevens wrote:Then, E-coli. I understand this comes from fecal contamination, right? So if I avoid that, should be ok, right? I keep things as clean and sanitary as possible, but of course nothing is 100%. For example, I brush my goats before milking to avoid hair dropping into the milk. But if a hair does drop in the milk, could it contaminate it with E Coli, if, say, the goat was lying on some of its own feces before that? And is salmonella transferred the same way?

you are likely talking about ecoli157h7. this specific ecoli strain has mutated to live in highly acidic environments - environments like those caused by feeding ruminants grain.
if you arent feeding grain, you are unlikely to ever experience ecoli157h7, imo.

Lila Stevens wrote:Anything else I should be thinking about?

imo, the main things about raw milk (whether pregnant or not) are:
a healthy animal producing that milk,
a sanitary milking routine,
quick cooling of the milk.

as long as you can verify those, i wouldnt worry about drinking raw milk.

** caveat - i milk cows, my wife drink raw milk while pregnant, my 13m old son drinks raw cows milk.
hope this helps
 
Lila Stevens
Posts: 14
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Thank you so much, everyone. It's so nice to have some concrete info. There seems to be a certain amount of propaganda on both sides of this issue, and it was really exhausting trying to weed through all of it on the internet.

Deborah, "Raising Goats Naturally" is on the top of my need-to-buy list... actually one of the only books on that list right now! I'm so glad you are still here participating on this forum. And thank you for the info on food recalls. That is a very good point.

I do feed my goats a bit of grain. It's what they were used to before I got them, and I haven't had them long enough to start experimenting. My doe in milk gets tons of browse, cane grass, and cut branches from leguminous trees (we are in the tropics), which I pop into a homemade hayfeeder to keep everything off the ground, plus as many organic alfalfa pellets as she has time to eat on the milk-stand (usually about 4 cups) and 3-4 cups of plain whole oats per milking (twice daily). Does that seem like a lot of grain? I feel like with all the other nice stuff she's eating, the grain shouldn't create too acidic an environment in her rumen, but I am a newbie. My 2 growing kids and dry, newly pregnant doe, get all the same browse, grass, and branches, but only get about a cup each of alfalfa pellets and a cup of oats, once a day. If they've had lots of branches cut for them that day, they sometimes won't even finish it!

My goats would never consider eating anything from the ground, or even plants that are less than a foot tall. I'm sure they would if I kept them hungrier, but I have some picky, spoiled goats. But I think it's better that way.

Anyway, thanks again!
 
John Master
Posts: 512
Location: Wisconsin
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my wife has had raw milk from grass fed farm before during and after pregnancy, lots of good things in there including healthy highly-saturated fats, cholesterol for building happy healthy baby brains, k2 and magnesium for strong bones, wulzen anti-stiffness factor and a whole array of other substances that are ruined by pasteurization. Logan is 10 months now, hardly gets ill besides teething, what an amazing food! Hoping someday it will be legal and widely available here in America's Dairyland, it makes nobody but an honest farmer any money and keeps people healthy and out of the hospital...so you can see it has a lot going against it. I think we've used about 500 gallons in the last 3 years.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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