Article Index "Composition of Human, Cow, and Goat Milks" Article Index


By: "Gary Pfalzbot"
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For a number of years, mans best friend the dog, has been by his and her side for more than just a friend. It can be considered that dogs of many breeds and types have held their place for companionship as well as the protection of their owners and their livestock. Enter mans second best friend, the goat. I am asked quite often just what breed of dog is best suited for protecting a herd of goats and how to get them to do so. To answer this question best, you need to understand the entire picture of your herd as well as the external factors (predators) that may be involved.

Of course not all dogs are the same, but of the breeds most often selected for guarding livestock, the Great Pyrenees is often the canine of choice. This particular breed has features that should be taken into account before obtaining them for guard dog purposes. This is the breed I use and most often recommend, therefore this article is written from my experiences with the breed.

Klondike is a registered full grown Great Pyrenees male that we obtained from a goat breeder who needed to relocate the dog since neighbors were quick to assume he was killing their livestock. He wasn't. Falsely accused, this great big bundle of hair came home with us and the very first thing he did upon getting out of the truck was to run to the furthermost corner of our property and sulk. We had been told by the breeder that Klondike was not too fond of men as he had been yelled at alot. "Great" I thought to myself as I traversed the woods after him. "A dog that isn't going to like me from the beginning and now here I am having to try to get him back up near the goats."

After several minutes of coaxing, Klondike was indeed reluctant to come to me, even when offered food. My only choice was to get close enough to collar him and attach a leash. After a few more minutes of getting near enough to accomplish the deed, he and I were tethered together and he was slowly following back up the hill and out of the woods. We've been together ever since - mind you I've taken the collar and leash off of him!

The first few days together were a learning experience for us all. We read up as much as we could about the Great Pyrenees breed and discovered many things that we might otherwise have taken for granted. One such thing was the characteristic of the nocturnal habits of the Pyrenees breed. They have been known to bark from sundown to sunup and spend most of the day only remotely interested in their surroundings.

We also knew that we had other external factors to deal with: we had another dog, a male Weimaraner who while being a great hunter, was also rather ornery when it came to feeding. No dog nor human could get close to him at feeding time without the risk of being snapped at viciously. Over the course of several weeks, what started out to be almost a daily routine of separating the two dogs from fierce battles, they soon became friends and engaged together in protecting our property and livestock from predators and intruders.

I need to mention that the instance of two dogs together, one being the senior occupant of the property and the other the newcomer posed some particular problems that definitely need to be regarded when you go to get your livestock guardian. One will teach the other certain habits, both bad and good, and it will from that moment on be difficult to overcome the negative habits they learn.

In some ways, I could perceive where the Weimaraner breed might be the smarter of the two, but it needs to be understood that these dogs have distinctly different purposes to begin with. Whereas the Weimaraner is nearly as fast as a Greyhound, a Great Pyrenees is like a large tractor trailer bearing down on its target. If you try to play "fetch", the Weimaraner will respond whereas the Great Pyrenees will half-heartedly open an eye to watch.

On the other hand, the Weimaraner constantly craves human interaction (games such as fetch) whereas the Great Pyrenees is more apt to display a totally independent attitude and is reluctant to learn even a few of the simplest tricks beyond "sit" and "stay". We had learned from the beginning that the Great Pyrenees breed is very independent and will tend to prefer the animals they are set out to guard rather than an open door to the house. The Weimaner constanly wanted in.

While I do not advocate stern discipline to dogs, some dog breeds seem to need that extra constant reminder with a rolled up newspaper. The Great Pyrenees isn't one of them. In fact, it has been repeatedly stated in many books on the breed that a "hitting" discipline will cause the breed to fail. They are that independent. Grabbing the Great Pyrenees by the collar firmy and issuing a firm NO! at least once is generally enough to let them know they have done wrong. And quite often, they will not repeat the same mistake.

By now you are probably wondering why I haven't yet discussed the Great Pyrenees and their watch over the goats. I just want to make sure you know exactly what leads up to this duty and how you can expect the best from your Great Pyrenees. By letting you know just about everything we experienced with our Great Pyrenees, it will let you learn from our mistakes as well as out triumphs.

From the beginning, I wished we could have gone about it differently. It has been reasoned that the best Great Pyrenees has been raised from birth with the goats. It would not be until a few years later when we actually had a chance to do this. The results were what I expected: a Great Pyrenees that preferred the goats over its owners.

Don't get me wrong, Klondike has been the model Great Pyrenees and perhaps even better than just a livestock guardian. He has indeed fulfilled a dual purpose of being a family dog as well as guard dog, although he has never been allowed in the house. During his first weeks at our farm, we were faced with the decision to keep him in with the goats to protect them from any predators that managed to make it through (or over) the fence. Or keep him outside the goat pens to allow him to freely roam the property and ward off any would be predators. Based on our terrain, predator threat (coyotes, wolves, foxes and other dogs), we kept him and the Weimaraner outside the pens.

On a few occasions, we put Klondike in with the goats, and he seemed to immensely enjoy this, never once fighting with them or biting at them. He did however bark a stern warning from time to time as they got too near his food dish. During the night time hours, we knew he was doing his job as we could hear him barking from any area in the pens. And a loud, fierce bark it was. I knew right then that if I were a predator, I would steer clear of the area where that barked came from.

Enter Angel, our Great Pyrenees female. Whereas we were reluctant to always keep Klondike in with the goats at all times, Angel was kept with them almost always - or until I discovered something that upset me and the goats. Angel had a habit of playing with young kid goats. I honestly don't think she was trying to hurt them, but try telling that to the young kid who is being picked up and down repeatedly by a dog. Reluctantly, we removed her from the pen and together, she, Klondike and the Weimaraner patrolled the outside area.

The female Great Pyrenees is quite different in size from her male counterpart. To me they look smaller and more slender and have much less hair. They also seem to have an entirely different sense of independence about them. I strongly believe that they are more trainable in terms of "fetch" and "rollover" tricks than the male, but that is pretty much where the differences end. At night, they too are on patrol and will barck at the slightest noise or movement they see or hear.

Unfortunately, Angel expired mysteriously during her last weeks of pregnancy. We will probably never know exactly what killed her though we have our suspicions that it may have been a poisoning by an ill-willed neighbor. We never were able to experience the offspring off the two so your guess is as good as mine as to how the puppies would have turned out.

Enter Millie, a 1/2 Great Pyrenees and 1/2 Australian Shepherd female that my wife bought me for my birthday. Now at first thought, one would think, "Ah, a livestock guard dog that can be trained!". Yes and no. While Millie indeed has some trainable qualities, she has been much better suited as an "in the pen at all times" dog. She has displayed the typical behavior of many dogs that chase cars, bark day and night, and can generally try even the most patient person. But, Millie did indeed give us opportunity for what we we knew was right - a dog that would constantly be in the company of her goats.

Of course it was inevitable to mate Klondike and Millie even though the only resemblance of Millie to a Great Pyrenees was her curled tail. Otherwise, Millie looked more like a German Shepherd/Australian Shepherd experiment.

It was a warm summer day when we noticed that Millie was having puppies. I had erected a small A-Frame dog shelter within the goat pen and this was to be where she would give birth. Within an hour, she produced nine pups' five females and four males. Only a few of them appeared at first to have even the slightest resemblance to a Great Pyrenees much to our dismay. But they were cute and they were in the goat pen from birth.

So what's a person with nine puppies do? Sell some of course. And we advertised them as 3/4 Great Pyrenees, 1/4 Australian Shepherd. Nearly everyone that I talked to about them, echoed my initial sentiments, "A livestock guard dog that can be trained! Should be very smart dogs!" We sold 8 of the nine puppies within a month after posting them for sale at 8 weeks.

Even though these puppies are "mixed", I can see and strongly feel that they have all the attributes of a full blood Great Pyrenees. While we kept one male puppy back, from day one, none of these puppies were too fond of people, or perhaps it was just me because it was always my duty to catch and display them to a potential puppy customer. The remaining puppy Chappar prefers his goats over people. About the only time he ever ventures toward us is at feeding time. When it is cold at night, he can be found curled up next to his goats and not on the porch (he is still small enough to fit through the bottom rows of cattle panels.

Constituent Human Cow Goat
Protein 1.2 3.3 3.4
Lactose 7.0 4.8 4.7
Fat 3.8 3.8 4.1
Ash (minerals) 0.21 0.71 0.77
Total solids 12.4 12.8 13.0

Lactose - Milk Sugar
Lactose is the only significant sugar found in milk. Lactose is made only by mammals. It is found only in milk. Lactose is a disaccharide consisting of one molecule of glucose and one molecule of glactose linked. This beta glysoside linkage is between carbon 4 of glucose and carbon 1 of glucose. Thus, the chemical name for lactose is D-gluco-pyranose-4-(beta-D-galactopyranoside). Only bacteria or organisms having a suitable beta-glucosidase are able to split this bond. This makes milk a useful diagnostic medium for identifying bacteria. Notice it is easy to remember that lactose is made from one molecule of glucose and one molecule of galactose => lactose. All the common double sugars contain one or more glucose molecule. Lactose is formed in the mammary gland from glucose. The lactose content of milk is not much affected by the maternal diet or level of blood glucose. Lactose is frequently detectable in human urine at birth and during lactation. The common disaccharides are shown in the the table below. While 3 of these are glucose-glucose, the linkages are different so different enzymes are required for their digestion.

Disaccharide Sugar 1 Sugar 2 Natural Occurance
Lactose glucose galactose Milk of mammals only
Sucrose glucose fructose fruits, cane, maple, beet
Trehalose glucose glucose yeasts and fungi
Maltose glucose glucose digestion of starch by malt
Cellobiose glusose glucose digestion of cellulose

Lactose is a reducing sugar and exhibits mutarotation because carbon 1 of the glucose moity is free. Like other disaccharides (double sugars), lactose reduces Cu++ solutions more slowly than monosaccharides. Therefore, Barfoed's reagent can distinguish lactose from simple sugars. Lactose yields a specific phenylosazone, a positive mucic acid test, and is not fermented by baking yeast (Saccharomyces cerviseaie ////(sp)////).

The percentage of lactose in milk varies with species. The percentage of lactose in human milk ranges from 6.5 to 7.5%. The average in cow and goat milk is less than 5% and the range is greater. When human babies are reared on cow or goat milk, it is customary to add lactose, sucrose, glucose, or malto-dextrin (partially hydrolyzed starch (maltose and dextrins)). Starch is a glucose polymer; therefore maltose (a disaccharide) is glucose-glucose.

Lactose is less soluble and less sweet than other common sugars. This lower sweetness may help babies drink more milk. In one small study, babies on a diet containing 36 grams of lactose per day retained more calcium than babies getting glucose as the sugar.

Lactose is converted to lactic acid by the normal souring of milk. The conversion is caused by enzymes of Streptococcus lactis and many other organisms. The first step is the splitting of lactose by a lactase in the bacterial cell wall. The glucose is converted to glucose-6-phosphate by the normal pathway. The galactose gets a phosphate added to form alpha-galactose-1-phosphate which is converted by another enzyme to glucose-6-phosphate. The two molecules of glucose-6-phosphate are then converted to lactic acid via several steps indentical those in the formation of lactic acid in muscle.

Milk Lipids (milk fats)
Fats in milk are called butterfat and occur as suspended globules which are easily seen via low power microscopes. The globules vary in size with the largest begin seven times the diameter of the smallest. These large globules tend to rise to the top and the yellowish color substance is called cream. When water is added the separation between milk and cream is sharper and faster. Therefore farmers used "water separators" and drained off the dilute milk from the bottom for pig feed and saved the cream to take to town.

Human and goat milk seldom gives rise to a layer of cream and farmers said goat milk had no cream. However, when water is added to human or goat milk a layer of cream becomes visible. The smaller globules of fat in human and goat milk do not rise as rapidly as he larger globules in cow mik. By forcing cow milk through small openings the large globules are broken up and the tiny globules do not rise noticeably and the product is called homogenized milk. Holstein milk has about 3% fat but Jersey milk has 5% fat. The fat content for individual cows ranges from 1% to 9%.

The fat content of cream is about 35% or less. The fat content of butter is 80% or more. Like other fats, milkfat is composed of several triglycerides. Oleic and Palmitic acids predominate. Human milk has more oleic acid and less of the short fatty acids (butyric, caproic, capryllic, and capric), but goat has more the fatty acids named for goat.

Milk Proteins
Casein is not a single substance.

About the author: Harold Eddleman, Ph. D., President,
Indiana Biolab
14045 Huff St.
Palmyra IN 47164
Revised 1999 Feb. 6 - Draft 1 Web Site:

Agricultural Research Service

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