Getting Started Producing Goat Milk
Planning is Key
OMAFRA's Dairy Food Safety Program has the regulatory responsibility for the Raw Goat Milk Quality Program in Ontario. For new producers interested in producing goat milk, there are several steps in the process to become a Grade A goat milk producer. All regulatory requirements must be met prior to shipping milk.
Securing Your Market
A potential dairy goat producer must first secure a market for the milk to be produced. There are two main brokers of goat milk in Ontario: Gay Lea Foods / Hewitt's and Ontario Dairy Goat Co-operative Inc. New entrants are advised to secure a written contract with a broker prior to investing in the business. In addition to these brokers, potential producers may secure a market through an independent agreement with a licensed dairy processor. Alternatively, if a producer plans to process their milk into dairy products for sale to consumers, they may consider operating their own licensed dairy plant. This may be on the farm or off the farm.
Raw goat milk can only be marketed to licensed dairy plants. Milk may only be collected on the farm by certified bulk tank milk graders. Milk transport vehicles must be inspected and approved by OMAFRA.
Contact OMAFRA's Dairy Food Safety Program directly at 1-519-826-4583 to request a new goat milk producer information package outlining production and building requirements, and tips on caring for animals and producing high quality milk. After reviewing this information you should contact an OMAFRA raw milk specialist (RMS) to discuss your plans.
Consultation Meetings with a Raw Milk Specialist (RMS)
New entrants to the industry are advised to meet with an RMS as a first step in the process and well before construction of a milk house or a barn begins. Your RMS will visit the proposed site with you and provide you with information that will assist in ensuring that your new operation will be in compliance with the Milk Act and Regulations.
Pre-approval requires an on-site visit and is followed by a final inspection prior to any milk shipments. This pre-approval step ensures that the producer is aware of all regulatory requirements and that any construction or renovation will meet Grade A standards. It is important that you work with a RMS well in advance of your proposed first day of shipping in order to avoid unnecessary and costly delays. Facilities that comply with the requirements of Regulation 761 of the Milk Act (Ontario) and that have passed a regulatory inspection are referred to as "Grade A" farms.
In the planning process, independent dairy equipment specialists should be consulted early and producers should also consider driveway requirements by contacting their milk transporter or broker. Building permits and, in most cases, nutrient management strategies will also be required for construction of milk houses or barns.
Building Code Requirements
The Ontario Building Code Act, 2006, (OBC) is the main regulation that governs farm building construction in Ontario. For all agricultural construction projects, the farm owner is responsible for obtaining a building permit. Contact your local municipality.
Nutrient Management Strategy
The Nutrient Management Act, 2002, requires any building project relating to livestock housing or manure storage facilities to have an approved Nutrient Management Strategy (NMS) before a building permit will be issued. This applies to all farms that generate more than five nutrient units and are proposing to build, expand or renovate. For more information about Nutrient Management, see the OMAFRA website or call the Nutrient Management Information Line at 1-866-242-4460.
To be in compliance with environmental legislation OMAFRA recommends the following:
- All milking centre washwater is to be disposed of in a manner that does not pollute the environment as per Ontario Regulation 267/03 under the Nutrient Management Act.
- All below ground disposal systems for milking centre washwater must be issued a building permit by the municipality before installation, extension or alteration.
Failure to meet environmental recommendations can result in:
- The removal of your Grade A rating, due to excessive odours or contamination of the area around the milk house caused by milking centre waste.
- Charges by the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change under the Ontario Water Resources Act if pollution of the environment does occur. A certificate of environmental compliance approval for systems handling milking centre washwater does not prevent charges from being laid.
These regulations and others need to be considered when planning to build or renovate any farm structure.
The final inspection of premises to be used for producing goat milk must be conducted prior to any milk being collected for sale and the bulk tank must be empty. For final inspection, the producer is required to give the RMS at least one week's notice prior to their anticipated shipping date. Milk shipments cannot commence until a complete premise inspection has been conducted by the RMS. Approval to begin milk shipment is granted when the farm meets Grade A requirements.
For more information contact:
Raw Milk Quality Program Coordinator
Raw Milk Specialist
Raw Milk Specialist
For Eastern Ontario
Raw Milk Specialist
For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300