Goat Rodeo Farm in Indiana Township earns top cheese honors in national contest

India Loevner, owner of Goat Rodeo Farm & Dairy in Indiana Township, holds a kid Monday. She says the secret to her fine products is happy goats.

by Tawnya Panizzi | Photos by Louis B. Ruediger

Trib Live (March 27, 2023) - Despite growing up on a farm in Buffalo Township, India Loevner didn’t expect to make a career in the dairy business.

The Knoch High School alum took her passion with her, however, when she moved to a 130-acre farm in Indiana Township.

“It was 2015 when we started milking the goats and making cheese,” Loevner said. “It turned into a business.”

Now, Goat Rodeo Farm & Dairy off Shaffer Run Road boasts 140 Alpine and Nubian dairy goats that are the source of fresh and aged artisan cheeses.

According to the farm’s website, it started with one goat. Then another and another.

Now, life on the farm has become a hoot. The operation has grown to include four full-time staff and a handful of part-timers to handle the spring plethora of baby goats and some wayward donkeys.

In February, at the 21st biennial United States Championship Cheese Contest in Wisconsin, Goat Rodeo’s “Hootenanny” cheese recently took the Best in Class for the Hard Goat’s Milk cheese category.

The variety also was named one of the top 20 best cheeses among 2,249 samples of cheese, butter, yogurt and dry dairy ingredients.

Maggie tends to her newborn Monday at Goat Rodeo Farm & Dairy in Indiana Township.

“We’re super proud of our team,” Loevner said. “They put really hard work into milking the goats and making the cheese, and it’s great to be recognized among so many great entries.”

Hosted by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, the national competition sees products up for technical evaluation in 113 classes.

Judging is based on flavor, body, texture, salt, color, finish and packaging, among other qualities.

Fans of great cheese can follow along on social media during the two-day event for exclusive interviews with judges and competitors, along with behind-the-scenes sneak peeks.

Head cheesemaker Eileen O'Malley displays an award-winning wheel of Hootenanny cheese. It was named one of the top 20 best cheeses in the United States Championship Cheese Contest judged by the Wisconsin Cheese Maker's Association.

“Hootenanny” is a supple goat’s milk Gouda-style cheese with notes of hickory nuts and wildflowers in a cream wax rind.

Other whimsically named products such as “Bamboozle” and “More Cowbell” are among the Goat Rodeo cheeses sold across the eastern part of the country from Ohio to New Jersey and beyond. Locally, there are dozens of retailers that sell the farm’s cheeses, including the Market District in The Waterworks, Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. in the Strip District and Feast on Brilliant in Aspinwall.

A member of the Pennsylvania Cheese Guild, Goat Rodeo brings in locally sourced goat and cow milk to amp up production.

“As small farms are struggling, we’re proud to have a working farm in Allegheny County and to support other farms by bringing in milk,” Loevner said. “Something we’re always proud of is to make a delicious product and preserve Pennsylvania farmland one wheel of cheese at a time.”

Goat Rodeo Farm & Dairy employee Lisa Caprera works Monday in the packaging area at the Indiana Township farm.

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