- RaShaun Robinson founded Billy Goat Ice Cream while in the MBA program at Oklahoma State University. | Photo provided
More than 65 percent of the worlds population drinks goats milk, but in the United States, its rarely seen outside of cheese.
A Stillwater-based business has taken goats milk and applied it to the countrys favorite dessert: ice cream.
Billy Goat Ice Cream Co. began as a kernel of an idea when Kansas City native RaShaun Robinson was in the MBA program at Oklahoma State University (OSU). A little more than two years later, the product is available statewide and one of two goats milk ice cream companies in the nation.
The fat molecules in goats milk are smaller than traditional cows milk, which makes it easier for humans to digest. This is welcome news for the third of the population that suffers from lactose intolerance. Goats milk is lower in fat and calories than the whole milk variety of cows milk, according to the USDA.
Robinson was exposed to the health benefits of goats milk while an undergraduate at Langston University, which houses the American Institute for Goat Research.
Its the closest dairy product to your mothers milk in nature, Robinson said.
He began to think about a business plan that could benefit rural communities while an undergrad and kept it percolating until arriving at OSU.
Americas favorite dessert is ice cream, he said. Why dont we make it with goats milk? We want to take those health benefits and apply them to a dessert that is considered sinfully delicious. We combined natural ingredients to make it something that is better for you [than normal ice cream].
Robinson and co-founder Caleb Neil presented the idea for Billy Goat Ice Cream at the universitys pitch and poster competition. Billy Goat took home a $1,500 first place prize in the competition, which requires entrants to present a business idea, value proposition and more.
Soon after, Robinson and Neil had set up in the universitys incubator and finished the business plan while finishing their masters degrees.
Its been fantastic to watch, said OSU assistant professor Richard Gajan, who works with individual students on their business proposals. RaShaun has been incredibly resourceful. Over the years, Ive worked with a lot of start-ups, and they rarely hit their sales forecasts, but RaShaun never ceases to amaze me.
Gajan said Billy Goat Ice Cream Co. is one of three businesses out of 40 that participated in the competition to become a fully-fledged business.
Robinson worked with Gajan to secure a USDA grant through REI Oklahoma because Billy Goat uses three Oklahoma goat farms to supply the milk and as many local flavor ingredients as possible. Robinson credited the grant for allowing the company to get off its feet. They sold their first order to a local Walmart in April 2015, a month before graduating.
When we first started, we had buddies that came in and helped us hand-pack everything. Oh my gosh; wed be exhausted by the time we got home, Robinson said.
The company now has an automatic depositor for packing and an ice cream machine that produces every 10 minutes. Robinson said it took four hours to make by hand.
Billy Goat moved to an off-campus incubator facility that gave them room for production and storage, but after agreeing to a deal to be in all 11 of the states Sprouts Farmers Market stores, Robinson is in the process of finding a bigger facility.
Billy Goat ice cream is also available at Walmart, Natural Grocers, Homeland, Whole Foods, OnCue Express and Crest Foods in the Oklahoma City area.
When we started, we were 10 cases here and 10 cases there, but we recently switched to a palate system, Robinson said. Were at a bit of a storage capacity issue [in the current facility], but thats a good problem to have.
- Stillwaters Billy Goat Ice Cream is one of two goats milk ice cream companies in the country. | Photo provided
Robinson said there hasnt been a traditional flavor combination that hasnt translated from cows milk ice cream to the goats milk variety. Billy Goat Ice Cream Co. features bourbon vanilla bean, coffee cacao chip, dark chocolate, garden mint and salted caramel as year-round flavors. Blueberry ginger, chocolate chip cookie dough and roasted strawberry balsamic are small-batch varieties.
I tried to come up with a pear and blue cheese flavor, Robinson said. We wanted to be fancy, but it was horrible. Thats what I get for trying to watch the Food Network. Not everything works together.
A half-cup serving (79 grams) of the bourbon vanilla cream has 110 calories 4 grams of fat and 16 grams of sugar. By comparison, a 100-gram serving of Häagen-Dazs vanilla bean has 249 calories and 17 grams of fat and 20 grams of sugar.
The FDA classifies frozen dessert as traditional dairy like Haagen-Dazs and Talenti and non-dairy like Halo Top. Robinson said goats milk allows his product to be classified alongside other dairy products, but with the health benefits of the nondairy side.
We dont add anything, Robinson said. Its pure cane sugar and coffee that weve roasted. All of the milk is from grass-fed goats.
I purchased a pint of Billy Goat Ice Cream Co.s dark chocolate flavor from a local Walmart, where it retailed for $5.54, about 70 cents more expensive than its Häagen-Dazs counterpart. I was curious how much impact the goats milk has on the ice cream.
The first thing I noticed was that the texture is a little more sticky and gooey than traditional ice cream, but that also means it wont freeze rock-hard and be impossible to get out of the container.
The goats milk does give the ice cream an earthy character thats reminiscent of goats cheese, but it compliments the dark chocolate well. With 21 grams of sugar in one serving, it seemed like the higher amount of sugar was added to counterbalance the goat cheese flavor. I wouldve preferred it to be slightly less saccharine, but it was very good and something I would buy again. I will gladly pay a slight premium for a product that supports Oklahoma businesses and cuts calories while still providing full-bodied flavor.
Print headline: Bovine-free; Stillwaters Billy Goat Ice Cream Co. uses local ingredients for a healthier product.