Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

My doe Starlight has had 2 of her kids with her since they were born.  They're 6 months old now.  A week or two ago I stopped milking my does.  I had been milking Starlight in the morning and putting her daughters with her for the day, then separating at might.

Last night, I noticed that Starlight's udder seemed pretty full.  I put her on the stand and milked out a bit from each teat to make sure it was normal looking and was able to come out.  Today her udder is VERY full, but not hot.

Could she just be weaning her daughters, or perhaps they're weaning themselves?  Her udder looks uncomfortable, very full and hard.  Should I milk her??  Please help, as I'm not sure what to do here.

Thanks! :)

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Okay all, I'm going to go and milk her as soon as I get a chance.  I'd still like to hear any thoughts on what might be going on here.  Any similar experiences?

I went out and milked probably over half or the milk out, and couldn't do any more.  She didn't want to be milked at all, and she was making that clear.  So, I got over a pint.  Probably could have gotten at least a pint and a half.  I was getting a pint every morning before.

I'm in the middle of a Porta SCC test, to make sure there's no mastitis.  The milk smells rather unpleasant to me, and I'm thinking we won't use it?  So far, the test is clear but it has 15 minutes to go before I'll know for sure.

I don't know if I should milk her or let her be???????

Is anyone familiar with the SCC test?  I got a result of  <500  x 1ooocells/ml.  It's the lowest possible measurement.  The problem is, I don't know how to interpret that result.  Not sure where to go from here? 

Oh Patty, I know nothing about the test. I think I can accurately tell you a couple of things Deborah has said. Hope I am right and that someone else can help soon. If you don't want to milk her regularly then you really shouldn't now. If she seems to full and tight you can milk just a little to take off the pressure but if you take a lot out,  her body will just make more thinking there is a need for it and therefor trying to supply that need. If you just keep the pressure off and not milk her out she should dry up just fine. You will need to keep an eye on her, checking her bag regularly to make sure she shows no signs of mastitis etc.  Brain... to tired to think of more right this second. ..will let you know if I do! Sorry, I don't know more to tell you right now!

Hi Margaret,

Thank you so much for your reply.  I think you're right, and that's what Deborah has said about drying off a doe that is making a cup per milking or less.  I'm not sure, however, if it applies to a doe who is making a pint or more per milking?

Also, I'm hoping to hear from Deborah, or anyone else who leaves kids on the doe until weaning occurs naturally.  Is it normal for the doe to just quit nursing cold turkey and get a huge udder?  I'm sure she's making at least a quart a day still.  Is it a good idea to keep taking just a little milk, or would it be better to just start milking her in the AM until she's down to around a cup per milking?

Also still wondering about that SCC count?  I've tried to find an interpretation of those numbers online, but couldn't.  Does anyone know about this?

Margaret Langley said:

Oh Patty, I know nothing about the test. I think I can accurately tell you a couple of things Deborah has said. Hope I am right and that someone else can help soon. If you don't want to milk her regularly then you really shouldn't now. If she seems to full and tight you can milk just a little to take off the pressure but if you take a lot out,  her body will just make more thinking there is a need for it and therefor trying to supply that need. If you just keep the pressure off and not milk her out she should dry up just fine. You will need to keep an eye on her, checking her bag regularly to make sure she shows no signs of mastitis etc.  Brain... to tired to think of more right this second. ..will let you know if I do! Sorry, I don't know more to tell you right now!

Sorry for the delay in responding. I was at my MIL's taking care of her for a few days after her latest chemo treatment.

I haven't used the test you have, but if it's the lowest possible score, then you're fine. Every lab reports SCC scores a little differently, but if it means <500,000, then it's good.

It is very unusual for a doe or kids to initiate weaning abruptly. It is usually a gradual process. The exception that I've seen is with first fresheners when I've sold one of the kids. I have a couple of does refuse to let the remaining kid nurse, although that hasn't happened in years. Sometimes, if a doe has mastitis, her udder is very sore, so she doesn't want to let kids nurse, but you'd have known that she had mastitis because the udder would be hard and hot, and you might even be getting stringy milk. You don't need to look too hard for those things because they are really obvious.

Since she is making so much, you could just milk her once a day for a few days to see if it was just a fluke. One of my cows had a really full udder a few weeks ago, so I went out to the pasture and milked her, but that's not a usual occurrence.

Oh, thank you Deborah!  I'm really happy to hear from you on this.  I hope it is just a fluke.  I haven't seen her nurse her kids yet, but this morning her udder didn't appear as full.  I'll keep an eye on her.  I'm glad to hear it's not normal for the does to wean their kids this way!

I hope you MIL is feeling better now.  Sorry to hear about the chemo. :(

Hey again!  I don't know what to do with this crazy girl of mine, though I am proud of her obvious ability to keep making milk.

After the first time I asked for your help in deciding what was going on and what to do about it, I milked her out a total of  5 times.  I milked once a day, longer than 24 hours even, but she continued to fill up really full until after the 5th milking.  After that I thought she was done, until the kids said the saw her nursing her daughters again.  Now suddenly yesterday her udder filled up again, and she's really full and waddling now.  I'm going to end up milking her again.

I would like it if she would dry up now, as she seems on the thin side to me, and I'd like her a bit heavier before she kids again.  She had triplets her first freshening, and I don't want her to start out feeding that many kids as thin as she is now.

Last time I had to start milking her again, the milk was SO creamy we just couldn't drink it, so I saved it and made cueso blanco(sp?).  The cheese was great, so that's a bonus to the situation. :)

It sounds like the kids are nursing sporadically. Some of them do that when they get older.

If she had triplets her first freshening, she will probably have triplets or quads most of the time. There is nothing  you can do about her making a lot of milk. Maybe I'm misunderstanding you because I've never heard anyone talk about wanting their doe to produce less, but if that's what you're saying, you can't do it. She will produce what she produces, and if she gets thin, you can try to improve her diet to keep weight on her, but that's it. That's just how some goats milk -- they put all their energy into making milk rather than maintaining their body condition. If she had only two kids, they'd just get more milk because they're little piggies. Since I've started adding Calf Manna to my does' feed the first couple months, their body condition looks much better than it used to when I was just feeding the regular grain ration. It really makes sense that they need more protein those first couple months.

As for high butterfat milk ... make cream of ____ soup, ice cream, and things like that! It is also great in coffee or chai. In fact, I think I'm going to go make myself a cup of chai right now! :)

Oh, no!  I don't want her to produce less milk, though I was hoping that she was drying up now.  I'm thrilled that she's a good milker.  I'm just concerned that she's getting thin.  I know in my head that does that make a lot of milk do get thin.  It helps to hear it again from you. :)

Hope you chai is awesome!

Milked Starlight an hour ago, and got 3+ cups of milk.  3 in the container, and the + was all over!  Even though she's still making milk, she doesn't want to be milked any more than she wants her daughters to nurse.  At least she didn't step in it.  My barn jacket will have to be washed though.  We're talking serious milk up the sleeves! :)  

Regardless of what she's doing milk wise, I AM taking my family to Grandma and Grandpa's for Thanksgiving.  Will be able to milk on Saturday A.M. if need be, and then again Sunday night.  It will be the first trip I've taken with the family since before the goats kidded last April.  :)  So yes, to be more honest I was really hoping she was drying up, or that she would let her kids nurse, but I'm so thankful to have such a great doe!   I guess it's my first lesson that I can't turn them off just because I want to. ;) And that's okay!

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