Telling Alaska’s Story: Herd shares for raw goat’s milk grow in popularity

Published: Jul. 4, 2022 at 5:49 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Fresh and local are two words many people like to see when it comes to the food they eat, but for some, it’s also important in the milk they drink. At least that’s what Suzy and Mike Crosby have found when it comes to fresh, raw goat milk.

The Crosbys own Cottonwood Creek Farm in Wasilla where they raise alpine dairy goats, a friendly, sturdy breed known for high-quality milk production.

Despite the fact that the Crosbys get more than a dozen gallons of milk a day from “their girls,” they aren’t allowed to sell it. Selling raw milk of any kind is illegal in Alaska due to health concerns that it could become contaminated with harmful bacteria. But what dairy farmers can do, legally, is sell a share of their herd.

“Now that you’re a legal goat owner, now you can drink a share of the milk that the herd produces,” Suzy Crosby explained. “And you can pay a share of the herd’s expenses. So it’s essentially a boarding fee paid at the first of the month for the whole month, and then you get your milk every week, whatever amount you determine is right for you.”

The Crosbys run a squeaky-clean operation and say they’ve never had a health problem in the 20 years they’ve been offering herd shares. They prefer unpasteurized milk because it contains vitamins and nutrients that can be killed during the heat pasteurization process.

Suzy Crosby said this year, in particular, their milk is more popular than ever.

“This is the year that we cannot keep up. It used to be any time somebody called we could usually squeeze them in.” Crosby said. “And now, even at this time of year, we have more requests than we can fill.”

She believes the pandemic has increased demand for local Alaskan products.

“It was very eye-opening for people,” Crosby said. “We’re talking so much more about food security now than what we used to.

“I think even the formula crisis has driven a lot of interest, because goat milk is the closest to human milk.”

Another plus, Crosby explained, is a recent change in state law. HB 22, which passed the legislature last August, ensures the herd share program is enshrined in state statute. The law also provides new business opportunities for dairy farmers to offer value-added products with their herd shares, like cheese and ice cream.

Crosby said she wants people to know that goat milk and goat milk products are safe, nutritious and delicious, and that their goats are healthy and well cared for. “Sweet milk, spoiled goats,” is the motto on their business cards, and the way they run their farm.

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