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Goat's Milk for Infants

By JB Tracey, MB

From "Healthy Options" Magazine, July 2001

This article refers to infants that are unable to be breastfed, or those being weaned from the breast. Breastfeeding remains the first choice in all other cases.

Goat's milk is the ideal food for babies, children and adults. Beneficial for the treatment of asthma, eczema, migraines, stomach ulcers, liver complaints and chronic catarrh, goat's milk also helps babies with colic, habitual vomiting and those not gaining weight.

How do you prepare an infant's feeds when using goat's milk? The simple procedure I use, has resulted in the rearing of many happy, healthy infants and has rendered complicated preparation instructions unnecessary. First, check that the milk production methods are hygienic, so that the milk can be given raw - that is, without heat treatment by boiling or pasteurisation. Goat's milk changes constitution when boiled. The curds are likely to be of different physical properties, the fat is apt to separate from the curds and the lactalbumin is coagulated or solidified to form a skin which may delay the rapid digestion - the most important advantage of goat's milk.

The almost universal recommendation by the medical profession to boil all milk fed to babies, is prompted by the fear of tuberculosis infection. I am confident that the danger of this is extremely minimal from milk obtained from healthy goats.

Correspondents have written to me for advice, being disappointed with the results of goat's milk they have boiled. To these and all the people using milk from a reliable source, I recommend they do not boil the goat's milk except when summer temperatures make it impossible to keep it cool, and then return to the fresh untreated milk as soon as practical.

There are a number of possible changes that take place on boiling the milk and even possibly on pasteurisation. Vitamin C levels may be depleted. Milk also carries with it certain unidentified substances which have the power of giving resistance to disease, and these may well be destroyed or changed. Little is known of these, but I am in favour of believing that they exist and act most favourably when not subjected to boiling.

Goat's milk is so readily digested by infants that I have found in a number of cases that, where the breast milk supply has been inadequate to satisfy the baby, full strength, unsweetened goat's milk can be given to make up. Feeding the milk from a spoon will not tempt the infant to wean itself on to the bottle. I have found that infants of working mothers have thrived on a midday feed of goat's milk, welcoming the return to mother's milk at the other feeds. This may not be the ideal, but the alternative use of cow's milk preparations have often resulted in refusal of the breast at the next feed.

Warm the milk to blood temperature by placing the bottle in hot water, and any recommended dilution is done by adding cold pre-boiled water.

When goat's milk is being used to overcome digestive upset from a cow's milk preparation, I recommend the first few feeds be given at half strength (half boiled water/half goat's milk) and, when all the clots of cow's milk have been passed downwards or vomited, the strength should be increased to two-thirds, then three-quarters, reaching full strength in two to three days' time. A suggested quantity per day would be 150 - 170 ml per kilo of body weight. Sweetening with honey or Demerara sugar'may be necessary when weaning, as breast milk is very sweet to taste and the infant would miss this. Quantity can readily be judged by taste, perhaps one or two level teaspoonfuls being tried in each feed at first. Mother and baby can usually sort this out between them!

It is possible for babies fed either on the breast or on goat's milk to develop an unusual type of anaemia due to a shortage of iron and folic acid in both human and goat's milk. I recommend these nutrients be given to your infant at this stage of life, in addition to the usual vitamin preparations. These defects are naturally overcome when the baby starts weaning onto mixed foods of broths and purees.

Many infants suffering digestive upsets from cow's milk have been switched to goat's milk at my recommendation, and in nearly every instance that the baby has not promptly improved, it has been necessary to admit the baby to hospital for surgical treatment of a physical narrowing of the far end of the stomach (congenital pyloric stenosis). Repeatedly have I found that infants which have failed to thrive for no apparent reason have regained health when given goat's milk, many cases with the child eventually weaning itself from all milk feeds when in full and normal health. Many of these infants have not tolerated cow's milk, possibly because it was either not palatable or it caused indigestion.

Summarising the usefulness of goat's milk for infants, I believe that fresh, raw, hygienically-produced, undiluted, slightly-sweetened, blood temperature goat's milk will overcome most digestive upsets and rear healthy strong infants to weaning stage and after - provided that the usual vitamin supplements are given. Iron and folic acid may be necessary when on milk alone but will be unnecessary after weaning. Infant feeding with goats milk is just so simple!


Reference: British Goat Society and NZ Dairy Goat Breeders' Association Inc.


Further notes courtesy of New Zealand Dairy Goat Breeders' Association Inc:

Goat's Milk:-

contains more minerals and vitamins than cow's milk
has smaller fat and protein particles, so is digested easier
is ideal for children with allergies to cows' milk
suffers no loss of vitamins due to pasteurisation
does not form excess mucus
contains ten times more natural fluorine than fresh cow's milk
contains 50% more vitamin B1, important for those with digestive upsets and rheumatism

Goat's milk has the same butterfat and a little more solids (non-fat) than cow's milk. It tastes like smooth, creamy milk, and very palatable yoghurt, butter and cheese can be produced with it. Freshly produced goat's milk has a very low natural bacteria and enzyme count.

Goats in New Zealand are free from tuberculosis, leptospirosis and brucellosis. This also means that goat's milk will keep fresh for up to a week when refrigerated

Frozen goat's milk, when thawed, will reconstitute to the same as fresh milk because the fat particles do not coalesce as does cow's milk. [However note that goat's milk needs to be frozen quickly using a blast freezer.]

The milk and cream are pure white because the carotene content is completely converted into vitamin A.

An average dairy goat will produce 4.5 litres of milk per day, which, in ten days, equals her body weight. Note that good fresh goat's milk should never taste or smell 'goaty' but should have a smooth texture and sweet, creamy taste.

 


Resources:

"Goats Milk - The Natural Alternative" Tinsley Beck BA MEd
Available from: Tinsley & Margaret Beck
7 Willaring Drive, Beckenham
Western Australia 6107
Phone:0061 8 9358 2383

On this Site:

What's Wrong with Your Baby? by Margaret Beck
Why Goat Milk by G F W Haenlein PhD
Differences Between Cow and Goat Milk by G F W Haenlein PhD and R Caccese
The Chemistry of Cream by R Goodwin
Soya - The Two-Edged Sword




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