Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

I have been treating my two five week old bucklings for coccidiosis (vet said one of them had) with Albon but the one buckling who tested "positive" for it has continually had loose stools overnight and then seems better in the day time. Tonight when I put them up for the night, I gave them a small bowl of grain as I have done for the last week and I noticed Toro (the one with loose stool) parked himself over the bowl gorging on the grain. Do you think he is eating too much grain and that's what is causing his loose stool? I have been so worried about him but now I'm wondering if it's the grain eating that is causing the problem. Leo (the other buckling) doesn't have loose stools at all. I thought they needed something to eat in there since they are separated from mom all night. What do you think?

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this was fascinating! In the past I have let the kid nurse after I had milked to help get residual milk from the udder. This study says before milking. How interesting!

The conclusion:

This study confirms that it is possible to maintain the amount of milk for human consumption in dairy goat production using MIX–systems (suckling and milking), and that the milk composition is positively affected by having goats and kids kept together. It also shows that it is possible to measure casein content in a simple way on-farm, and that the casein number in this study is measured to be 72 ± 5%. Taken together, the results of this study show that improving animal welfare by using MIX systems also can improve the financial situation for the farmer since the reduced work load of not having to artificially rear the kids can be combined with improved milk properties for goat cheese production.


And for me - the cistern is new knowledge.


Patty Meyer said:

Thanks, Deborah. :)  I have been milking for three years, and I have just started to understand about the cistern.  I know I have a doe with a small cistern now, and it takes forever to get all the milk she has the potential to give me because of it.  She needs to be massaged a LOT more, and lets down a little more milk with each massaging.  It is an exercise in patience to milk her out.  However, her kids nurse more often and for longer than any of my other does have nursed their babies.  They're very healthy and plump.

Boy, is there ever more to learn, and more to learn about each doe each year.  That's part of what makes this adventure so much fun, even though it means I always feel that I could be doing things better. :)

I remember that now about the human breast not having a cistern.  That totally makes sense. :)  Thanks for sharing the study too.  This is really neat, because it's really explaining what I've been starting to figure out this summer.

I'd like to add to my points about why I am confident it's okay to separate my 5 week old kids and milk their mom. First, Surrey (doe) gave birth to triplets but one died during labor. So she was built to feed three and had had triplets for the last 2 years before this kidding and had no trouble feeding all of them. Second, as I mentioned before, I have been opening the dog crate and letting the twins nurse FIRST before she gets on the milkstand. That lasts about 30 seconds. I use a Henry Milker to milk her and in 30 seconds she is milked out and I get about 1 and a half pints. So, it seems logical that the twins are getting about that at the first feeding before I milk her as well. My does orifices are fairly big and the milk really gushes out. The kids are still gaining well every week and are lively and plump. I realize all situations are different and the next time I may not be able to do this. I appreciate that every situation is different and must be assessed each time.

Just a point of clarification for anyone reading this later -- it is not always true that a doe will make enough milk to feed the number of kids that she gives birth to. There are unfortunately goats out there with genetics that throw lots of eggs, even though they do not have the mammary system to support that many kids. I have seen goats give birth to 3-4 kids when they barely have enough milk to feed two. And there are of course goats that give birth to 5-6, and I would never even dream of NOT bottlefeeding some of those kids.

It sounds like your particular doe is a good producer, Julia, but the one thing I would like to reiterate is that when a kid has diarrhea, they should not be given any grain, and they should be able to nurse 24/7. A kid can die from diarrhea fairly quickly. I have been meaning to mention that again, but I am traveling and have limited Internet access, and this conversation has gotten away from the original question.
I love it when I read research that connects all the dots in my life (or my goats' lives).

Someone was interviewing me last week and said she did not understand why anyone thinks we need to clone animals -- I thought to myself, "spoken like someone who has never raised animals!" Although I am against cloning, I totally understand why some people want to do it. Genetics is a crap shoot, and if you could just make carbon copies of your favorite goat, it would make life easier in so many ways! (But cloning also creates a lot of problems, such as losing your entire herd of cloned animals to an infectious agent.) So even though it is a pain learning about every new goat born into your herd, it is also a very interesting adventure! And frankly I have never seen that perfect animal that should be cloned.

And I was reminded yet again recently that we will never completely understand goats, and they will forever be doing things that surprise as I just had a goat learn to open the stall doors in the barn if they are not locked! After 11 years, we are all having to learn a new habit -- or else walk out there to find all of the goats wandering around the barn, climbing on the hay stack, eating the chicken grain, and more!


Patty Meyer said:

Thanks, Deborah. :)  I have been milking for three years, and I have just started to understand about the cistern.  I know I have a doe with a small cistern now, and it takes forever to get all the milk she has the potential to give me because of it.  She needs to be massaged a LOT more, and lets down a little more milk with each massaging.  It is an exercise in patience to milk her out.  However, her kids nurse more often and for longer than any of my other does have nursed their babies.  They're very healthy and plump.

Boy, is there ever more to learn, and more to learn about each doe each year.  That's part of what makes this adventure so much fun, even though it means I always feel that I could be doing things better. :)

I remember that now about the human breast not having a cistern.  That totally makes sense. :)  Thanks for sharing the study too.  This is really neat, because it's really explaining what I've been starting to figure out this summer.

Oh and I've been meaning to clarify too, that Toro never had diarrhea, just clumpy poo and it cleared up fine in a couple of days. Also, he only was getting a handful of grain in the crate but I've since removed the grain at night and they only get it when their dam is having her dinner. 

How boring that would be!  A whole herd of animals all the same...I love my rainbow of colors and personalities! :)  And how God never runs out of ideas for new ones. :)

good gosh on the milk amount in the morning! But I have to remember my goat is a FF - I have never gotten more than 20 oz. in the a.m. and that was an awesome morning! It is usually 16 oz. and she had triplets. No wonder when they nursed - it was for her - like getting mauled.

Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:

My kid-raising practices have become more refined with each passing year, and my definition of acceptable kid growth and health have also become far more demanding. If even one kid in my herd winds up with coccidiosis now, I am not happy. And I want my doelings to grow fast enough that they can be bred to kid as yearlings. As I've been on milk test for five years now, I've seen a 100% correlation between kid growth and dam's production, which equals how much milk the kid is getting. I suppose a lot of people just assume that some kids grow slowly, which I used to. A lot of people think that it's normal for quads to grow slowly, but the only reason they're growing slowly is because they're not getting enough milk in most cases. VERY few does make enough for maximum growth when feeding four kids. I know a lot of people think coccidiosis is "normal" for kids because every kid in their herd gets it unless they're on preventative. Basically, the longer I raise goats, the pickier I get.

I hate to break it to you, but you will never get it all figured out! :-) And if you do think you've got all the answers, they'll change the questions. Goats are tricky like that. Several years ago my daughter said to me, "I think we could raise goats for 100 years and still not know everything!" That is totally true. But I know I'm in good company. A couple years ago at the Mother Earth News Fair, Joel Salatin said that we were the first audience to see his revised presentation. Every year they try new things on his farm, and he revises his presentations every fall based upon what worked and what didn't.

I re-read my post on "Starting to milk" and added this yesterday as it is more concrete and measurable:

Added Sept. 18, 2013: Figuring out if kids are gaining adequate weight is virtually impossible for someone who is new to goats or does not have other kids to compare. So, before separating the kids every night, you should also look at how much milk you are getting from the doe. Ideally a kid should be getting 24 ounces per day, but 32 ounces is not unreasonable for a dam-raised kid that is snacking all day long. This means that if you separate her from the twins every night, she would need to be making 3 quarts a day (12 cups or 6 pounds) to adequately feed the kids enough milk while they are together during the day. This would mean that you would get 1.5 quarts (6 cups) when milking her in the morning.

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