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Above: Wei Xingyu feeds his five goats, which produce milk for his baby girl as a supplement to breast milk. Below: Wei poses with his baby girl. Photos by Wen Xinzheng / China Daily
A businessman in Changsha has been feeding his baby girl milk from the goats he has been raising on the roof of his four-story house, rather than rely on commercially produced milk formula. Wen Xinzheng in Changsha and Huang Yuli in Shenzhen report.
Unconvinced by the safety of milk powders, Wei Xingyu from Hunan province's capital Changsha raises five goats on the roof of his house to provide milk for his 4-month-old baby in addition to his wife's breast milk.
The 36-year-old businessman was living in downtown Changsha. But since the weather is overbearingly hot in the city, he has temporary moved his family and goats to his hometown in Changlong village, suburban Changsha.
Changlong village has developed in recent years with new factories and several new roads being built. A few meters away from Wei's old house is a construction site.
But that hasn't stopped Wei from making a pasture for his goats.
Wei was disturbed to read about milk powder being poisonous or of bad quality. So, when his wife got pregnant last year, he bought two cans of goat milk powder, but soon after he read media reports that cast doubts on the quality of this substance. For the safety of his wife and the baby, he decided to raise goats himself.
At the beginning of the year, Wei contacted a farm in Beijing. The farm owner recommended the Swiss Saanen goat, which lactates 10 months each year, and produces 3 liters or more of milk per day.
Wei bought two goats, each costing around 3,000 yuan ($471). In March, one month before his wife's expected delivery, the two goats were transported by train for 17 hours from Beijing to Changsha. More recently, he bought two young does and one buck.
Wei says raising goats is not easy. He planted 1-meter tall "elephant grass" (originally from Taiwan province) in the backyard of the old house. And he feeds the goats twice a day and milks them in the morning.
As for the goat manure, Wei says it's "very dry, not dirty!"
Wei's wife has been supportive of the idea. Her five-month maternity leave will end soon. She says the goat milk "tastes very good".
When his daughter was 100 days old, and according to local custom the family held a ceremony in a restaurant in Changsha. After the meal, some relatives recounted how he fed the baby with self-raised goats on their way home on the bus, where a reporter of a local newspaper happened to overhear and later reported it.
Some pediatricians, however, say goat's milk for under 3-year-olds is not good because their stomachs haven't developed enough and there may be hygiene problems.
Wei disagrees: "Have they ever done it? They don't know it at all!" He says it was not a sudden impulse to raise goats and adds that he was inspired when he visited the Inner Mongolia and Tibet autonomous regions, where locals fed their babies fresh goat milk. He has also been studying traditional Chinese medicine for several years and believes it is safe from a TCM point of view.
He says his 4-month-old daughter is healthy and this proves what he has been saying.
Wei's neighbors in Changlong village are conflicted about his experiment. A neighbor surnamed Zhou says: "He is doing an experiment on his own baby," and also complained about the smell of goat feces.
Wei counters that "food from nature is the best". His goats produce about 6 liters of milk each day, more than enough for his wife and the baby, he says. Lately a cousin got pregnant, and she also plans to drink the goat milk, Wei adds.
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feng Zhiwei contributed to the story.
(China Daily 08/08/2012 page20)