Got goat milk? Local farmers are taking advantage of a nationwide boom in this unique dairy industry

ALEXIS, Illinois -- Dairy goat farming is the largest growing field of livestock in agriculture nationwide.

Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows  the increase is not just nationwide -- the business is booming in Illinois and Iowa, growing nearly every year since 2007.

John Dailey, owner of Dailey Farms, jumped in on the industry about five years ago.

"A few years back I hit a fork in the road in my career," Dailey says. Originally in the biotechnology industry, Dailey says he remembers enjoying dairy goat farming with his family when he was young.

Now, his farm has 50 dairy goats, producing about 15 gallons of milk a day.

"It's very rewarding seeing (the goats) thrive," Dailey says.

The industry does come with its challenges. Small dairy goat farms are held to the same standards for making and selling milk as multi-million dollar business making cow milk.

"(The standards) are there for a reason, to make sure my product is 100 percent ready for the consumer," Dailey says. "I'm doing exactly what the cow folks are doing."

Despite its challenges, Dailey sticks with it, citing goat milk's healthiness, like its benefits for people with lactose intolerance.

"It's very rewarding... seeing people smile when they try something new and like it, and they're getting a healthy product," Dailey says.

As for its growth, he says people today are more willing to try new food and drinks. And even if they aren't, he encourages it.

"It's great seeing people doing samples, like 'Goat milk? Ew!'" Dailey says. "And I'm like 'Try that chocolate milk.' Then they drink it, (and say) 'That's delicious, it tastes like a melted ice cream cone.'"

His "Dailey Goat Milk" is on the shelves at Illinois Hy-Vee's in the Quad City area and several other locations.

"Sometimes I forget to take a moment to pause and reflect on what it took to get that on that shelf," Dailey says.

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