Livestock milking goats...forever

Willow

Veteran Member
This may not be anything new to some here but I'm passing it along just in case you are like me and never heard about this.

Hubby and I are retired but not so old yet that we want to give up owning livestock and benefiting from them. Right now I am milking three goats that are owned by three families and produce milk for their owners. In the past I have always bred them in the fall and early winter and then dried them off two months before freshening. I always thought you had to do that in order to get milk. My big issue is we keep producing babies and, softy that I am, I then don't want the babies to be sold so they all stay here. The goat herd is growing and I don't want that. We are at a time that we don't want to add any more critters but felt we had no choice if we wanted milk.

An old friend suggested that I just keep milking the does and they will keep producing. I was amazed. She said milk production will fall off in winter but in spring it will pick up again. I didn't believe her but I tried it...and it worked. Two of my does are giving me 3/4th gallon a day and have been milking for 13 months. The other doesn't count yet as she just freshened this spring and is a first freshener.

I am looking forward to milk all year round and no kids to worry about. Just wanted to pass this info along if you are one of those that wants the milk but doesn't want the kids.

Willow
 

Faroe

Un-spun
I'm trying to pull this off too (more or less). The last thing I want is more goats. I've seen first hand how others keep their livestock, and know what the chances are for any goats I bring into this world and sell.

Our breeder has been pushing us to get the current milker dried off and bred - she wants the stud fee. I understand that, but our other doe who freshened this spring is, as before, a very disappointing milker. Too bad. Nice personality, good conformation, well attached udder, and from a line of reliable milkers. So, I don't want to dry off the older, uglier, doe who freshened almost a year ago, and actually produces.

And, the last thing I want, is more to deal with. I hate working outside. The neighborhood outside our tall fence is nothing but TRASH! They wander around the block endlessly...all they know how to do is eat, litter, make noise, and BREED!!! I get the chores done, and I come right back inside. Most of the day it is just too unpleasant.

Ideally, I would just keep two goats, one milker, and a smaller one for company.
 
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Willow

Veteran Member
That is my problem. The people that want goats, for the most part, want them on a whim and when the novelty wears off they dump them. So I just keep everything.

I was into purebred Nubians in the 80s and had fun with pedigrees and showing. Now all I want is milk so my breeding choices are usually more about good udders and milk production rather than purebred. I love the fun of owning the purebreds as you can do a lot with them but now milk it the important consideration. My oldest are purebred LaManchas but along the way I collected a Nubian Boer cross and now I am milking a LaMancha Saanan cross that is the daughter of my foundation LaMancha doe.

I am amazed the Nubian cross is producing the same as the LaMancha. The LaMancha Saanan cross is a first freshener this year and she is doing just as good as the other girls.

The friend that told me about not drying them off said that it doesn't work with a first freshener but I think I might try it anyway. Not sure yet. Just need to see how she does.

What breed do you have?

Willow
 

Sherrynboo

Veteran Member
I have had success with year round milking with my toggenberg doe several times. I really don't want to breed her anymore due to her getting on in years and thankfully I finally got a doeling out of her this spring! This fall I am going to try to get the Saanen and the baby who will be about 8 mos by then and maybe isolate the toggenberg so she isn't exposed to the buck.

Sherry in GA
 

Freeholder

This too shall pass.
This works with a lot of goats, but not all -- some just won't milk through. But for those that do, it's well worth it, in my opinion! Some goats will just keep on going like the Energizer bunny; others may need to be re-bred every other year or so. With two that will milk through, you can breed one each year and milk the other one through. Less kids to deal with and you have at least some milk all the time.

Kathleen
 

meandk0610

Veteran Member
Just wanted to throw out that anyone getting into goats could get Nigerian dwarfs. They are not seasonal breeders so could be bred at any point if milk production got too low. I don't know if the ND crosses sold as Alpines are seasonal or not.
 

Wildwood

Senior Member
The longest I've milked through is three years. I have purebred nubians and did it with my two foundation does. They don't produce milk as long in their older years...maybe eighteen months. I only milk once a day after babies are weaned.
 

Faroe

Un-spun
The longest I've milked through is three years. I have purebred nubians and did it with my two foundation does. They don't produce milk as long in their older years...maybe eighteen months. I only milk once a day after babies are weaned.
I milk once a day too. I have Nigerian Dwarfs. I really like them. Personable, and the milk is delicious - high in fat. Ours has been in milk for about a year?? - I bought her already in milk.
 

Willow

Veteran Member
How much milk on average do the Nigerians milk a day?

Also, if you drop back to one time a day I was told you will dramatically reduce milk production. Has anyone found that to be true?

Willow
 

Wildwood

Senior Member
Not really. You may lose some but you get more milk in that one milking. I think does tolerate milking through a lot better if you only milk once a day.

Nigies were originally my goat of choice but back when I got started, you couldn't find one for sale anywhere in this area. There was a small group of breeders and they pretty much only sold to each other.
 

Faroe

Un-spun
How much milk on average do the Nigerians milk a day?

Also, if you drop back to one time a day I was told you will dramatically reduce milk production. Has anyone found that to be true?

Willow
The loss is not dramatic. Maybe a few ounces.
The book by Deborah Niemann says a good ND dairy doe averages a quart a day over the whole of her lactation. Key word is "average;" the goat will give much more at the start of the lactation. I'm getting 22 and 23 ounces per day consistently, and Lacy has been in milk since early October of last year. 22 ounces gets well up close to the shoulder of a standard quart mason jar, and that is strained, w/o the foam. My goats are pure-bred and registered, but local; nothing special. If I imported animals from some of the better known ND dairies, I know I could get much better results, based on their udder photos and milk measurements.

One thing I've noticed however, is that the highest producers tend to have more issues with things like calcium balance. The more elite producers may be pushing the milk volumes up to a level that makes the animal as a whole more fragile. Niemann's and website gets into a lot of technical medical information I have little interest in. I don't want to be a vet. I would rather milk less from a generally sturdy, "thrifty" animal. This part of the reason why I like "landrace" livestock. They survive better in an austere environment.
 

meandk0610

Veteran Member
Faroe, any chance you could post a slow-motion video of how you milk? I have been shown how to milk, but now how to check for mastitis, encourage let-down or strip the year at the end. Also, hand position on the little girls is something I have an issue with, and I have not had a consistent schedule in order to be able to have the same time and the same amount of time available every day. I'm working on changing that though, but really get confused about hand/finger position.
 

Broken Arrow

Heathen Pagan Witch
Not goat related, but I've kept my dairy cow milking for 16 months now. She's still giving up to 5 gallons a day. She will be pregnancy checked next month, and if she's not pregnant, we will keep milking. If she is I'll be drying her off in December. We all could use a break from twice a day milking.
 

Faroe

Un-spun
I don't have anything to make a video with, but you can find plenty of you tubes out there. I have even seen one milking an ND with small teats. The motion for the tiny teats is more in the fingers. This can REALLY make the hands cramp up, but they gain strength with time.

Goats are much more forgiving about a less consistent schedule, and only getting milked once a day once the larger volumes from the first few months are over. The trade off, is of course, the goatress gets nothing close to cow volumes.
 

Willow

Veteran Member
Just added two yearling Alpine does to the herd and both have precocious udders. I've never dealt with this. One is very full. Any advice or experience with this would be great.

I do understand that a lot of the time, this is an indication of a very good milker once bred.

Willow
 

Faroe

Un-spun
I had one. I purchased her in milk. She was an excellent milker, but she was so mean to the other goats, we decided to have her butchered. Just didn't seem fair to the others.

We will buying at least one goat in December. Again, she will be in milk. The lady who bred her is getting out of the goat business. Not sure what we are going to do for stud service, but that shouldn't matter for a while, anyway.

Willow, good luck with your new does!
 

Willow

Veteran Member
Thanks Faroe!

Interesting that the two does with the precocious udders are both nasty to the other goats. One much more so than the other. Wonder if temperament and the udder issue are somehow connected.

I think I found a neighbor willing to take the two Alpines. We currently call them the "Crock Pot Twins" because their behavior is bad enough that we think butchering is an option. Anyway, the neighbor doesn't have any other goats and will give me doe kids back that I can raise with the herd so that might be a good option.

I just leased a buck. He is an experimental Alpine LaMancha cross and I am very excited about the potential for super quality kids next year with a lot of potential to be good milkers.

Willow
 

summerthyme

Administrator
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Since I don't have goats, I could be way off base.

However, "precocious" udder development in dairy heifers is *almost always* due to sucking. Calves (or kids) which didn't get enough sucking stimulation early on, or which weren't properly weaned (or who aren't provided sufficient water at times) will suck other animals. This can cause the early development of mammary tissue, as well as cause mastitis.

Now, "early" udder development in a pregnant first timer... a heifer who begins to "bag up" at 5 months along, rather than the more usual 7-8 months (or even later) often IS a very superior milker. But natural- though early- development needs to be differentiated from mastitis or other abnormal problems.

Also, certain feeds- especially moldly clover, but also other plants with estrogenic properties- can cause this, and could also cause temperament issues.

Summerthyme
 

Willow

Veteran Member
I've been reading a lot of the goat sites about this problem and have never seen sucking as an issue. Definitely not saying it isn't possible. Vast majority of comments seem to indicate this is common in a doe that eventually goes on to be a great milker. In fact I've read where a couple people just started milking the doe and got milk for months afterward. One never bred the doe in her lifetime and she milked for years. Others suggest there could be a mastitis issue.

I'm tempted to milk them out and see what I get but the search results mentioned when that is done the outcomes are mixed. Some say it makes things worse and the doe really started to produce. Others say they milk once and the problem disappears.

I'm also thinking about a hormone imbalance that could get corrected once bred.

It does appear to be a fairly common problem in dairy goats.

Willow

Interesting info on feeds and mold. I have no idea what these does were fed before the friend purchased them and they came to her with the enlarged udders. Since with her and now with me, I know that mold probably isn't an issue and the hay quality is good.
 
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