CEDAR CITY, Utah — The city council considered whether to amend its animal ordinances to legalize "milking goats," something one council member floated as a potential source for families experiencing a baby formula shortage.
Currently, Cedar City prohibits goats within city limits.
"We pretty much are dogs and cats and a little bit of chickens, a little bit of rabbits," said Council member Tyler Melling, who proposed the ordinance change.
Council member Melling questioned why the restrictions exist in the first place on goats, whom he said have a variety of uses. He argued it could also be a potential source for some families who are experiencing a shortage of baby formula. His own child had to use goat milk because of allergic reactions, but Council member Melling said that to obtain it they had to go to another city where goats are legal.
"Goat milk is not the same as breast milk or as formula," he cautioned in an interview with FOX 13 News. "Nutritionally, it is different. It is better than cow’s milk. At at the end of the day, this can be an option for families in a time of crisis."
The Utah Department of Health said Thursday it does not recommend goat's milk as a substitute for baby formula. University of Utah Health cautioned that it can result in deficiencies of important minerals for very young children.
"There are some exceptions for babies over six months old, but it should only be temporary and with iron supplementation," the university said in a post about the topic. "Reach out to your health care provider before providing cow or goat milk to your child."
At Wednesday night's meeting, some members of the Cedar City Council questioned the rush.
"Yes there is the emergency across the country with the baby formula, but that will be mitigated and it will be fixed and it’s not a forever problem," said Council member Scott Phillips.
While some council members questioned if it would be a nuisance, others supported it saying those who are serious about raising goats will be responsible. Public comment on the ordinance was also divided, with some expressing concerns about noise and mess while others say residents should be able to have goats like some have chickens for eggs.
The proposed ordinance change was defeated on a 3-2 vote late Wednesday, but council member Melling said he intended to revisit it in a few months after addressing some concerns and ensuring restrictions are in place.
"Hopefully, we can be more resilient and have more options for families," he said.