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Building, Managing & Marketing a Grade A Raw Milk Goat Dairy Producer Perspectives. Conway Family Farms, LLC Lorrie Conway. Program Overview. Business Planning Stock Selection Infrastructure Regulatory Issues Product Processing Marketing & Customer Relations

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building managing marketing a grade a raw milk goat dairy producer perspectives

Building, Managing & Marketing a Grade A Raw Milk Goat Dairy Producer Perspectives

Conway Family Farms, LLC

Lorrie Conway

program overview
Program Overview
  • Business Planning
  • Stock Selection
  • Infrastructure
  • Regulatory Issues
  • Product Processing
  • Marketing & Customer Relations
  • Other Management Considerations
our non negotiable philosophies
Our non-negotiable philosophies
  • Small is very beautiful!!!!
  • Slow growth is healthy growth
  • Maintain multiple revenue sources
  • No revenue stream or endeavor will be added unless it benefits the rest of the farm (sustainable economically & ecologically)
  • We only add enterprises that we like, can do well, and can manage by ourselves.
our truth
Our Truth

We do not farm for the money…it is the appeal of the lifestyle, an appreciation of the moments of calm while embracing those that are hectic and above all, it is a love of the land and animals.

conway farm profile
Conway Farm Profile
  • 5 acres mostly flat pasture land, some wooded area, randomly disbursed coniferous trees.
  • Rural 5 acre zone (not agricultural zoning)
  • Private well water source
  • Drip & water reel irrigation systems
  • Cross fencing for rotational grazing
  • Raised bed gardens
  • 2 main barns, 1 kid barn, 1 chicken house, 1 gift cottage/roadside stand, 1 greenhouse
what we do
What We Do
  • Livestock Production
    • Diary Goats (Nubians)
    • Sheep Production (Border Leicesters)
  • Horticulture Endeavors
    • Blueberry production
    • Lavender
  • Agritourism Ventures
    • Field Trips
    • Weddings & Events
    • Open Farm Tours
  • Other things:
    • Honeybees
    • Cut Flower Garden
    • ‘Bounty Boxes’
creating a business plan
Creating a Business Plan
  • Why?
    • Considers all the options
    • Research information
    • Directs efforts and keeps you on track
    • Provides a measurement tools for success
    • Creates a roadmap for your business
    • Provides you with sound financial information/expectations.
  • Remember…this is a living document…it will continue to evolve and change.
business plan components
Business Plan Components
  • Executive Summary
  • Company Summary
  • Market Analysis
  • Strategy & Implementation
  • Management Summary
  • Financial Plan
  • Exit Strategy
stock selection considerations
Stock Selection Considerations
  • Health
    • Disease Free (CAEV, Johnes, Caseous Lymphantidis-CL,TB, Brucellosis)
    • Skin Conditions
    • Respiratory Ailments
    • Parasite Issues
    • Kidding issues
  • Production
    • Choose animals that meet your business plan objectives for production.
    • Cull those that fall short of production expectations.
    • Ask to review production records
    • If no production records are available, visit the farm (before purchasing a doe) at milking time to assess production.
  • Efficiency
    • Ask about appetite in relationship to production
    • Assess condition-is she too fat or too thin?
    • We look for “Easy Keepers.”
stock selection considerations14
Stock Selection Considerations
  • Flavor of Milk
    • Objectives of your business
    • Personal taste
  • Temperament
    • Difficult does require more care in the milking parlor resulting in time loss
    • Meek personalities can result in inadequate food consumption
    • Overbearing does can cause behavior issues resulting in injury etc
  • Structural soundness; show quality
    • Objectives of your business
    • Structural soundness will result in longevity
    • Good feet and legs are essential for long lasting animals!
    • Performance programs as a measure of structural correctness

NOTE~A doe, even one with an excellent mammary system, will only be productive as long as her body remains sound! The whole package is crucial!!!

a visual case for proper selection
A Visual Case for Proper Selection
  • “Maddie”
    • 1st freshening two year old
    • Freshened 5/17/06
    • Triplets
    • LA Score 78
  • Improper teat placement is difficult to milk
  • Improper leg set is creating feet and back breakdown at a very young age
  • Overweight; not outstanding production
  • Steep rump could

result in kidding issues

a visual case for proper selection17
A Visual Case for Proper Selection
  • “Juniper”
    • 7th freshening eight year old
    • Freshened 3/07/06
    • Twins
    • LA Score 92
what else can we say
What else can we say…
  • 8 year old doe still walking on excellent feet and legs; requires less hoof trimming.
  • Beautifully placed teats for ease of milking; less milking time.
  • Long flat rump for easy kiddings; less 2 a.m. barn encounters dealing with dystocias.

Remember, the goal is to choose

does that require minimum inputs

with maximum outputs!

infrastructure components
Infrastructure Components
  • Doe Housing Facilities
  • Kidding Facilities
  • Kid Housing Facilities
  • Feed Storage
  • Milking Facilities
  • Processing Facilities
suggested infrastructure process
Suggested Infrastructure Process
  • Refer to business plan objectives
  • Evaluate what you currently have
  • Consider options and devise a theoretical plan
  • Contact your dairy inspector and make an appointment with them to review your theoretical plan. Take good notes!
suggested infrastructure process23
Suggested Infrastructure Process
  • Contact your local building department to review current building codes as they apply to what you are doing…make certain they understand this is an agricultural building!
  • Contact your waste management authority to review your grey-water and parlor waste plan. Again, make certain they understand your application.
  • Obtain necessary permits and begin the construction process.
meeting regulatory requirements and agency relationships
Meeting Regulatory Requirements and Agency Relationships
  • Honest
    • Be transparent; brainstorm solutions to barriers
  • Persistent
    • No room for ‘shrinking violets’ here
  • Creative
    • Think outside the box
  • Consistent
    • Apply your processes consistently
licensing process
Licensing Process
  • Obtain copy of Pasteurized Milk Ordinance
  • Obtain copy of Revised Code of Washington RCW 15.36
  • Obtain WDSA “The Green Book.”
  • Obtain an Application for a Grade “A” Milk Producer License
  • Obtain an Application for a Milk Processor License
  • Attend local food handling class through county health department.

PMO can be found at:

358 pages

licensing your process
Licensing your process
  • Review requirements
  • Apply requirements to your processes
  • Begin addressing each component of the licensing application one at a time.
    • Well water tested at a local laboratory
    • Document your cooling times/methods
    • Have your milk tested for Total Plate Count, Somatic Cell Count, Coliform Count to assure it meets standards…perhaps more than once. This can be done at a food safety lab.
licensing your process28
Licensing your process
  • Begin addressing each component of the licensing application one at a time (continued)
    • As you are milking/processing your milk, document each step of your process
    • Begin designing your labels and check your nutritional label requirements…USFDA Website allows you to determine if you are exempt from nutritional labeling requirements and provides a form that can be filled out and faxed to register your exemption.
    • Tubercullosis and Brucsellosis testing of all animals
    • Draw a “farm plan.”
    • Draw a “floor plan.”
suggestions for regulatory relationships
Suggestions for Regulatory Relationships
  • Do your research before you call
  • Take good notes; note date, time, person you spoke with and outcome of the conversation-keep this record
  • The agency is there to help; if you don’t receive the information you need, keep digging
  • Discuss your creative ideas with your agency official (FSO-Food Safety Officer) before implementing
  • Once you have established a good (approved) process, be consistent in its application.
  • Stay informed about pending legislation issues that affect ag & current events. It is our responsibility as producers to remain current with issues that affect our business.
    • Capital Press
cleaning processes
For the goats

Iodine based udder wash

Disposable towels to wash/dry

Pre/post treat with Fight Bac

For utensils

Antibacterial soap

Bleach, bleach & bleach!

pH test strips

Cleaning Processes
marketing with the 5 p s
Marketing with the 5 P’s
  • Packaging
  • Placement
  • Pricing
  • Promotion
  • People
  • …and two more
      • PATIENCE
marketing considerations
Marketing Considerations
  • WHO will buy your products and WHY?
    • Answering this helps you decide
      • Where to sell your products
      • How to package your products
      • What messages to convey on labels and when communicating about your products
  • What are the barriers & challenges?
  • How will your products reach your customers?
marketing options
Marketing Options

Refer to your business plan objectives and research~

  • Direct Marketing
  • Farmer’s Market’s
  • Contract or Creamery
  • Co-op
  • Retail
our marketing choice direct marketing on site

Customer Contact-creating community ties, customer loyalty

Production rate is self-managed-no contracted production rate.

Possible higher $ return

Ability to educate end-user.

Recall ability customer specific.

Immediate feedback & response on product quality.

Diverse customer base = increased income security.


Constant & frequent traffic

Boundary violations

Always on *display*

Advertising costs

No-shows result in compromised product.

Bio-security risks.

On-site personnel necessary to fulfill sales.

Honor system violations.

High-turnover in customer base…fickle customers.

Our Marketing Choice:Direct Marketing On-site
record keeping and other concerns
Record Keeping and Other Concerns
  • Record Keeping
    • Health Records
    • Milk Cooling/Production Records
    • Customer Records
    • Milk Pick-Up Records
health records
Health Records
  • White Board recording
  • Master Record
    • Information is then transferred onto individual doe records similar to “medical charts”.
      • Individual doe records contain information about kiddings, illnesses, artificial insemination experiences, meds given etc.
milk cooling production records
Milk Cooling & Production Records
  • Milk Cooling Chart
    • End time is the time that the last bottle jug is put in the ice bath
    • “Pull” time records the last bottled jugs temp which is recorded
  • Production Records
    • Each doe’s milk is weighed and recorded morning and evening. Based on the starting time recorded on this cooling chart we can easily monitor production levels
    • We maintain production records by lactation year so that we can compare year to year.
    • Of course, DHIR is our “official” record.
customer records
Customer Records
  • Each customer fills out a “Customer Contact Form”
  • Each customer signs an “Agreement to Purchase Raw Milk”
  • All customers are provided with a copy of the farm handbook outlining expectations
  • A master calendar is kept to recording upcoming order
  • A pick-up card records who picked up milk and when and places orders for the following pick-up
the drug panic
The Drug Panic
  • Drugs available/labeled for goat use is minimal at best.
  • Withdrawal times will be more difficult to determine. Must have a veterinarian you love and trust. It helps if they love and trust you too!
  • Scheduled maintenance of animals (worming) can be done during dry periods.
  • My philosophy regarding withdrawal times…better safe than sorry…err on the side of extreme caution!
  • Bottom line…Consult your veterinarian!
some of our practices
Some of Our Practices
  • DHIR to monitor SCC
  • CMT (California Mastitis Tests) randomly and regularly.
  • Worm during off-milking season and monitor parasite load during milking season with fecals.
  • Highly attentive condition monitoring of animals…what goes in also comes out!
  • High SCC does-milk is only used for kids.
  • Total change in antibiotics used.
vendor supply availability
Vendor & Supply Availability


  • Assess production needs
    • Cleaning supplies, sanitation, preparation
  • Assess packaging needs
    • Containers, labels, closures, shipping supplies
  • Locate approved sources of supplies and determine shipping/pick-up methods.
  • Tip: We have one ‘supply run’ day per month. Our suppliers are located fairly close together and we assess production and pick up necessary supplies for 30-45 days at a time.
other management considerations
Other Management Considerations
  • Demand for more milk than is seasonally available.
    • Helping customers understand this is a seasonal food source.
  • Juggling kiddings to maintain a constant supply of *new* milk.
    • Caring for new kids is time consuming
    • Kidding off season can create health issues
  • 24/7/365 (can)=BURN-OUT!
    • Family Focus?
    • Reliable help from other sources?
final thoughts
Final Thoughts
  • Is a Grade “A” Raw Dairy “sustainable”?
  • Is it feasible?
  • Are there costs involved?
  • Would I recommend it?