Summerhill Goat Dairy, located in Hanford, California has recently joined the Humane Farm Animal Care program as a newly Certified Humane® producer. Founded by John and Anneke de Jong in 1999, Summerhill was originally located in Southern California. Both John and Anneke grew up on family-run dairy farms, and originally had little knowledge about raising and milking goats. When the opportunity arose for them to purchase Summerhill and start raising dairy goats,they began researching everything they could about these gentle creatures. From reading books about goats to working with “goat experts”, Anneke and John found the idea of having a goat farm a new and exciting experience. With their acquired knowledge of goats, they created the ideal environment for their goats to feel safe, comfortable and be the healthiest they could be.
At the end of 2009, Summerhill Dairy relocated to Central California to a larger farm as it outgrew its former, rented facility. Today Summerhill Dairy’s’ 1,000 goats live on 100+ acres of land having access to indoor facilities as well as outdoor areas at all times. While transitioning to their larger farm in 2009, Anneke says, “Johnnie constantly tried to ‘think like a goat,’ only to discover on the first day after moving in, that they had outwitted him. The goats were able to open the gate latches and within hours were all mixed up!”
The large herd of goats found at Summerhill is pleasantly diverse with an array of breeds from LaManchas, Nubians, and Saanans to Alpines and Toggenburg goats. The goats are milked twice daily on the farm with an 84-goat rotary milking system originating from The Netherlands. Every animal uniquely creates milk in due time, therefore the European style rotary milking parlor allows for a more efficient milking process as goats are able to be released from the system when finished milking. The rotary parlor also ensures a less stressful milking process as goats are comfortably moved to the location one by one.
The fresh milk is immediately chilled once obtained from the goats, and then stored in silos. The goat milk is pasteurized at 161 degrees for 15 seconds. This High Temperature Short Time (HTST) system uses less water, power and energy than other methods. “We work hard to be good stewards of our resources. Our new dairy was built with an emphasis on animal comfort and care, energy efficiency and providing quality, natural goat milk for our customers,” John explains about his family run farm.
Once it has been pasteurized to ensure that the milk is free of bacteria or other harmful organisms, it is chilled again and put into quart size bottles. Milk is picked up daily from the farm and delivered to various stores in California.
As animal lovers, experienced humane animal handlers, and now considered goat experts themselves, John and Anneke are pleased to have been awarded the Certified Humane® label for their goat milk:“We have always been committed to the humane care and welfare of our goats. Our customers are very interested in how our animals are cared for and we wanted them to have an additional assurance that we were providing humane care.”
To learn more, visit their website at: www.SummerhillDairy.com
For information on where to find other Certified Humane® products in your area, visit the “Shop” page of HFAC’s website.