UC Davis loves its goats. For more than 100 years, goats have played a starring role in the teaching, research and outreach at the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. That connection grew stronger than ever Jan. 25 with the formal opening of the UC Davis Noel-Nordfelt Animal Science Goat Dairy and Creamery.
“We’re really excited to see this come to fruition,” said Anita Oberbauer, animal science professor and associate dean of agricultural sciences. “At this new facility, we will be able to produce, market and sell Grade-A goat cheese while providing hands-on learning for students.”
About 400 people toured the facility as part of the university’s annual Goat Day, which centered around tips and information for people who raise and care for goats. Attendees sampled cheese donated by alumna Erika McKenzie-Chapter of Pennyroyal Farm and Jennifer Bice of Redwood Hill Farm and Creamery.
Located off Old Davis Road, the 2,420-square-foot Noel-Nordfelt Animal Science Goat Dairy and Creamery includes a milking parlor, milk room, clean room, aged cheese room and packing room. The facility will help students model common animal husbandry issues facing production goat dairies and provide a space where students, staff, faculty and industry stakeholders can process milk and make cheese on state-of-the-art equipment.
The cheese produced there will eventually be sold at the Meat Lab and used in some campus eateries, said Benjamin Rupchis, manager of the Goat Teaching and Research Facility.
“And small-scale homestead cheesemakers will have new opportunities to hone their craft on campus,” Oberbauer said.
Each year, about 1,000 students study goats in their courses at UC Davis. The herd size fluctuates between 65 and 125 Alpines, Saanens, LaManchas and Recorded Grades goats, all of them registered through the American Dairy Goat Association and housed in pens surrounding the main barn.
The university’s herd of dairy goats is just one of three groups kept at the Goat Teaching and Research Facility — meat and transgenic research goats are also raised there. The transgenic research goats are genetically engineered dairy goats that produce higher levels of an enzyme naturally found in human breast milk, with the hope of eventually using goat milk to help protect children in developing countries from the harmful effects of diarrhea. Their milk is solely used for research and is not consumed.
Diane Nelson, senior writer, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, contributed to this report.
- “Milking It,” from UC Davis Magazine
- USDA, Agricultural Research Service open bee research facility on campus.