First goat farm

Belgian Bernard Willem is a professional consultant on livestock and agriculture. He wanted to create a unique small farm. Now he has his own family farm.

Bring a child and living in a typical Belgian village, Bernard, like other children at the age of 7–8 years, worked on the farm. There were about ten farms in one village, for example. Only two of them were industrial.

“When I came to Ukraine, I felt something similar to my childhood. My daughter needs to know about life at the farm. We come every three days and she is here with the goats and cows. And I’m glad”

The area near Sudova Vyshnya in Lviv region impressed the farmer the most. “50 kilometers from the city and you can feel as if you were in the Carpathians”.


About Ukraine

“I really like Ukraine. It hurts to see that the social situation in Ukraine is catastrophic. There is no land for agriculture, so there is nothing left for the people. In 1999, when I came as a consultant and later a shareholder of one project, it was very difficult: the government didn’t give us the possibility to work. Two partners returned to Belgium. I said that I would do something different here”

According to the farmer, a lot of things need to be changed in Ukraine. It is all because of corruption and the oligarchs.

Bernard and his family is one of the first people who have started a goat farm in Ukraine.

“There were no goat milk products in Ukraine before. Now there is a great demand for them”

The first problems that Bernard faced when he began his work in Ukraine were reconstruction of the farm, organization of the herd and production of the fodder. The next task was cheese production and sale.


About competition
The territory of France is almost the same as the territory of Ukraine, although the population is 20% larger. According to Bernard, there is one million goats in France and so about 100 million kilograms of cheese are produced per year. In Ukraine, farms could be built almost in every area.

Competition is a good thing: it allows for different tastes, quality and recipes

“If there is competition, people make a good product. If a bakery does not have competition, how can you know what their bread tastes like? “

Goats

Zaaneske and Alpine milk are almost the same. The most important thing while keeping goats is to feed them well and keep them clean. “When feeding becomes industrial, everything will be different.”

Now only 50–70 goats are milked on the farm daily and they produce about 100–150 liters of milk. This is enough for 15 kilograms of cheese. Goats can live up to 15 years, but after the age of 8, they produce much less milk.

“We feed the goats hay from our fields. Straw, grain, oats and corn also come from our fields”

There is a record of each goat at the farm. We record when it was born, its age, how much milk it produces, whether it has special needs, when a goat is pregnant, when it gives birth, and which kid belongs to which mother.

There are certain rules in the buildings where goats live: it is forbidden to beat goats and shout at them. Animals should live in peace.


Cheese

There could be millions of different varieties of cheese and each cheese will be unique. This is primarily influenced by the atmosphere and natural bacteria. You can milk a hundred of cows, one herd at a distance of ten kilometers, make cheese following the same recipe, and you will get unique varieties of cheese. It is not true for the industrial farms where cheese is all the same.

During the production of industrial cheese milk is pasteurized, so there are no natural bacteria. Instead, enzymes and antioxidants are added.

“On the other hand, industrial cheese is easy to sell — says Bernard. — You can leave it unrefrigerated for an hour and it will not change. Our cheese is alive. There is cheese that we eat the next day, others are a day, a week, a month or a year old. Every one of them has a different taste”

You can eat goat cheese even as a dessert without counting calories. Of course, like any dairy product goat milk contains certain percentage of fat, but it is well absorbed and improves digestion.

“If you have a big meal of several dishes and even a huge steak and then enjoy a byush in oil, it will digest it all properly. Cow’s milk is much more difficult to digest; also it contains gluten”

In classification of dairy products goat milk ranks second only to breast milk.

Vika Sloboda, Olena Semenyuk

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