chapter  17
24 Pages

Goat Milk Cheeses ....................................................................................................................... Evanthia Litopoulou-Tzanetaki

Goats are of great importance in developed countries for the production of high-quality cheeses and the sustainable development of rural areas and even in developing countries to exploit marginal agricultural resources. A good dairy goat gives about 900-1800 kg milk in a 305-day lactation period (Haenlein 1993). Goat milk production has been concentrated mainly in the Mediterranean and Middle East countries, as well as some East and West European countries. There is now archeological evidence (Luikart et al. 2006; Zeder 2008) that probably the Neolithic farmers migrated out of the Near East and across Europe following two main routes-through the continental heartland up to the Danube valley or along the Mediterranean coast, and …ndings suggest their initial settlement in the Balkans and southern Italy (Vigne 1999). In post-Neolithic times, civilizations from the Mediterranean area, such as Greek, Roman, Phoenician, and Berber, probably introduced new species of animals and new breeds of livestock in southwest Europe, while some colonists may have imported stock from overseas and improved local livestock, explaining the high diversity in breeds of domestic goats (Pereira et al. 2006). The migration history of the species played a pivotal role in the present-day structure of the breeds, and it seems that coastal routes were easy for migrating. A westward coastal route to Italy through Greece could have led to gene “ow along the Northern Mediterranean (Pariset et al. 2009).