Making Goatsmilk Soap for Fun and Profit

| 11 Comments | 0 TrackBacks
PA-WAgN held a soapmaking workshop on April 21, 2011 at Cherry Hill Farm in Tyrone, PA, home of Beth Futrick, who plans on starting a goats-milk soap business with the milk from her small herd of Boer-cross goats.


To help Beth and other farmers get started soaping, veteran soapmaker Diane Weist from Brushwood Farm taught the whole process in a hands-on format. From measuring the milk to cutting the bars, we had the opportunity to learn the entire procedure--and we took home a bar of soap too!


After we made the soap, we learned about the marketing and business planning involved in starting this new venture. Blair County Extension educator Brian Kelly led a discussion on the business planning, accounting, and insurance issues soapmakers should be aware of and how to plan a marketing strategy.


Farm Profile: Cherry Hill Farm


sleepy2.jpgBeth Futrick at Cherry Hill Farm started her goat operation four years ago with just two goats. Her original plan was to have the goats clear multiflora rose, autumn olive, and honeysuckle that covered the pastures behind her house where her grandparents had once raised cattle. She subsequently got two more does and a buck. After the first set of babies, Futrick decided to get a registered Boer buck. She now has 34 goats, and they have cleared all the invasive species from the original pasture and will now be moving into a neighboring pasture. pasture2.jpg


Beyond pasture maintenance, Futrick is focused on building up the herd for three potential markets. First, she sells small quantities of meat with plans to continue and expand this operation. Second, she is trying to get the herd to 100% Boer in order to sell it for breeding stock. Finally, Futrick plans to milk some of the goats during the spring and freeze the milk to use for soapmaking.


Futrick is not interested in dairy milk production. Although she says she gets a lot of people stopping by the farm asking for goat milk, she doesn't want to get involved in complying with all the regulations to sell milk. Furthermore, after spending the day at her job as a Blair County Conservation District Agricultural Liaison, she often doesn't have time for milking. However, she sees soapmaking as a good opportunity because it requires very little milk, which can be produced seasonally. Her main goal is still to sell meat and breeding stock. She knows from her work with farmers that there will be an increasing demand for goat meat, and Boer goats tend to be meatier and demand a higher price. Thus, Futrick sees soap as an extra value-added product that she can incorporate into her existing operation.


bethlinda2.jpgAnother valuable product that the goats produce is manure for her gardens. Futrick's manure management plan is to spread the manure on her vegetable and perennial beds in the spring. In the winter the goats stay in the barn on a deep bedding pack. She cleans the barn and spreads the manure in the spring and summer after the goats have gone out to graze in the pastures.  (Futrick notes that developing a manure management plan--even something as simple as hers--is required under Pennsylvania's new Clean Streams Law. Chapter 91, which is currently under review, requires anyone collecting any amount of manure to have a manure management plan. Farmers can write their own plans. Chapter 102 Erosion and Settlement Control, in effect since November 2010, requires every farm that disturbs more than 5,000 square feet of land, whether tilled or no-till, to have an erosion control plan or conservation plan to prevent erosion and sedimentation. In addition, heavy animal use areas over 5,000 square feet must also develop an Ag Erosion and Sediment Control Plan.)

Beth Futrick was recently elected to the PA-WAgN Steering Committee. Futrick--who serves as an Agricultural Ombudsman for the Pennsylvania department of Agriculture and also works at the Blair County Conservation District--says she got involved with WAgN for professional reasons even before she began farming. She now sees the organization as both a professional and a personal resource, particularly for help with marketing and value-added enterprises.

Your Feedback.

If you attended the field day or would just like to talk about the topics, please leave a comment below.  You can also post your photos or videos to share with others.

Print Resources Provided at the Field Day:

PA Business License Application (PDF) PA Business Lic Form 2011.pdf

PA Sales Tax Information (PDF) PA Retailers Info 2011.pdf

Decisionmaking Help for Small Farmers (PDF) NCState Small Farm Decision Making.pdf

PA Entrepreneurs Guide (PDF) PA Entrepreneurs Guide.pdf

Other Resources:

Work with Lye Safely: Expert Village Video

Brushwood Farm, Soapmaker Dianne Wiest's farm website


Goatsmilk Soapmaking Discussion Board

Youtube video from the Georgia Farm Monitor


Youtube video from



No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:


When is the last day for registration?

This looks like a great workshop! It is really interesting to see the way Beth is developing her goat herd.

I can't wait to go to this workshop. I use to have goats many years ago and love them. I use goat milk soap and it leaves my skin very soft and smooth. I want to learn how to make my own.

I am interested in attending.
Please email me with fee.

Hi, Karen:
Unfortunately the field day is already full. We hope to offer this again--

I had a great time at the workshop meeting other like minded women and making soap it was awesome. I had fun fun fun. Thank you all for putting on this work shop.

Another great workshop that was enhanced by the amazing group of women that so openly shared their soapmaking expertise, marketing strategies, and farm stories.

At yesterday's soapmaking workshop, we discussed the importance of a business plan. Many participants expressed an interest in SARE's "Building a Sustainable Business." The publication is available to purchase for $17 or download for free at

Had a great time yesterday and the hands on was excellant to cement it in this, sometimes very full, head! :) Question: I had mentioned that I would be using cows (Jersey) milk to make my soap, but, would just the cream from that milk be even better. I was thinking a "Jersey Cream, Oatmeal & Honey Bar". Or would I be just wasting my cream? I wondered if it would make my soap a creamier texture. Thanks for any thoughts. Had a super time and made it back to the farm just in time to help with night chores :)!!! ~Linda and Max

Hi, Linda:
Thanks for coming! I have made soap with cream before and it was nice. I used something on the order of half and half, substituting it for the liquid (and using it frozen). If you want to use a thicker cream, you should probably subsitute frozen whole or skim milk to dissolve the lye (use just half the liquid called for in the recipe) and then add the rest of the liquid called for in the form of unfrozen heavy cream at trace. If you google jersey cream soap, you'll see that others are making and selling it successfully.

Very cool! I've never tried goatsmilk soap before.

Leave a comment

Search This Blog

Full Text  Tag

Recent Entries

Cooperative Marketing
Cooperative marketing can be a great way for small farmers to work together to expand their local customer base. At…
Wild Mushrooms at Shaver's Creek
We recently visited with Eric Burkhart at Penn State's Shaver's Creek Environmental Center to learn a bit about wild mushrooms.…
The Bookamer's Farm Pix
We've spent some time these past few weeks at the Bookamer Family Farm... and we don't know why we left!…