Maui dairy is first farm to be certified humane
Factors that must be met include adequate shelter and diet
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The Surfing Goat Dairy run by Thomas and Eva Kafsack has become the first Hawaii farm to earn the Certified Humane Raised & Handled label.
In order to receive the certification, which is administered by a nonprofit group in Virginia, a farm has to comply with a number of standards in farm animal treatment.
These include allowing animals to engage in their natural behaviors, gentle handling, raising them with sufficient space, shelter and a diet free of antibiotics or hormones.
The Certified Humane label is the latest trend to appear to a growling list in Hawaii -- which now includes carbon-free honey produced on the Big Island as well as the Hawaii seal of quality developed by the state Department of Agriculture.
The Surfing Goat Dairy produce 30 kinds of cheeses, as well as goat cheese truffles and soap.
Daily tours of the goat farm are also part of the business.
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Eva Kafsack, owner of Surfing Goat Dairy
in Upcountry Maui, considers the goats at the 42-acre farm her children.
Every goat is named at birth, and most have been hand-fed by Kafsack herself.
Surfing Goat Dairy on Maui now also has the distinction of becoming the first Hawaii-based producer to receive the Certified Humane Raised and Handled label from Virginia-based nonprofit group Humane Farm Animal Care.
To qualify for the label, farms must meet precise standards for the treatment of farm animals, which include a nutritious diet without antibiotics or hormones, adequate shelter, resting areas, and sufficient space to support natural behaviors.
A Certified Humane label will go on all of the dairy's products, which includes an array of 30 award-winning cheeses, goat cheese truffles, and soap made from goat milk.
It also can be included on the menus of restaurants, including Indigo Eurasian Cuisine, which offer dishes with Surfing Goat Dairy products.
The standards were developed by a team of animal scientists as well as veterinarians with expertise in farm animal issues -- and consultation with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in England.
Some 133 goats live at Surfing Goat Dairy, including 80 does, three bucks, dozens of kids and babies.
Life is good, indeed, for the goats at Surfing Goat Dairy -- a mix of Swiss Saanens and French Alpines which freely roam pastures of Buffel and Kikiyu grass while feeding on two scoops of grain mix that includes corn, oats, barley and molasses daily.
The Certified Humane program is a voluntary program available to egg, dairy, meat and poultry producers as well as those who work with farm animals. HFAC's third-party inspectors verify compliance through on-site visits.
An annual re-inspection is required, and certification can be revoked.
HFAC says a recent study on behalf of the United Egg Producers found three out of four America consumers would choose certified food products over those that are not, even if they cost more.
Since HFAC's program was unveiled in May 2003, more than 64 companies from Massachusetts to Hawaii have been certified. Last year, 20 million animals were raised under HFAC's standards.
Surfing Goat Dairy, founded by Thomas and Eva Kafsack seven years ago, always has followed some of the requirements since they consider the goats like family.
The goats are milked both by hand and machine.
Thomas Kafsack said more consumers want to know how their food is produced -- as well as chefs and hoteliers.
Surfing Goat Dairy cheese will be carried at Whole Foods Market in Hawaii, and the Texas-based natural foods chain was happy to hear about the Certified Humane qualification.
The certification cost about $600 for the written test and inspection, and took the farm six months to achieve, said Kafsack.
Surfing Goat Dairy produces cheese for a growing list of restaurants and hotels, including the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea.