This Farm is the Only Grade “A” Goat Dairy in Alaska

Apr 08, 2024

By Davis Hovey

Dairy farming is not an easy business, but the micro dairy at Heritage Farm and Ranch in Kodiak makes it work by selling a variety of products and focusing on being more efficient. 

“I kind of joked that I started a Grade “A” dairy with a “C” team,” said Kelli Foreman, a fifth-generation farmer.

Foreman begins her mornings tending to her more than 20 goats at the farm. And a couple of her nanny goats are pregnant. She started her dairy in 2014 with animals donated from her friends and farmers across the state.

“I had friends that I found on the mainland, I had a couple here, and it was just trying to find like — this goat is older, this one’s udder…And it doesn’t matter,” she said. “I said as long as they are from a clean herd and they have good genetics, let’s bring them in. So really the dairy started with eight goats.” 

As Foreman has added more goats over time, she has also become more efficient with the products she produces and sells. Foreman said as a dairy farmer in Alaska, you can’t put all your eggs or goat milk in one basket if you want to make ends meet financially.

“We sell milk, we have cheese, we have skyr, soap, lotion, caramel, fudge, syrups,” she said.

Foreman sells her products at a local co-op grocery store in Kodiak, but right now none of her milk or cheese is available until she is able to milk again. She said usually she milks her goats on a daily basis, but since a majority of her goats are pregnant right now she’s waiting until after they give birth to resume milking. 

Foreman is expecting around 40 kids or baby goats to be born soon and then resume milking sometime in mid-May.

As the state’s only Grade “A” Certified goat dairy, Foreman adheres to strict state and federal regulations surrounding the production, processing and distribution of her products. The only other dairy that is certified to this level in Alaska is the Alaska Range Dairy in Delta Junction, which is a cow dairy.

Selling raw, unpasteurized milk has been legal since March 2023 in Alaska. State Veterinarian Dr. Sarah Coburn said Grade “A” raw milk can be sold to a restaurant, grocery store or even directly to the consumer.

“And there’s no regulatory oversight over that, as far as routine inspections or things like that,” Coburn said. “It’s really incumbent upon the consumer and the producer to make sure that they’re in compliance with the regulations as they’re written, and the safety parameters.”

It’s forced Foreman to meet sanitary standards by doing things like purchasing a commercial grade dishwasher, which she uses to sanitize her glass milk bottles. As Coburn puts it, Foreman has found a way to make a micro-size goat dairy on Kodiak Island operate efficiently and economically.

“She found a company that provides dairy equipment that meets the Grade “A” standard. So it’s just smaller and it’s made for a small facility for 10 to 20 or 30 animals,” Coburn said. “So there’s ways to do it in a more economical, smaller scale, and still meet all of those parameters of cleanability and maintenance, and all the things that go into it.”

Foreman said state regulation and operational changes like this have really benefited her bottom line.

“So I could sell the same products but not have to have the same inspections, not have to have the same type of bottling, as long as you have informed consumers,” she said.

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