Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

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When people talk about how FF's often produce less milk and don't have as long of a lactation as they may in future lactations, does that also apply to does who are FF's that are older?

My doe Starlight freshened in May for the first time, and turned three in June.  She had triplets, and has always had her two daughters with her.  She peaked at giving up to 20 oz. at morning milking, after being separated from her daughters overnight.  She has, until recently, given a pint consistently.  Now she's slowing down and gives only about 10 to 12 oz.  It's only been 4.5 months.

She appears to be beginning to wean her daughters, and sometimes seems to be extending that to me.  She's not as compliant and patient on the milk stand as she was before.

What do you all think?  Thanks a lot! :)

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Well, probably not. I have a FF that freshened in March at exactly 1 year and fed her babies (twins until they were 12 weeks and sold). I got a quart (2 pounds) from her every morning while separating kids through the night. Now she is still giving me close to 2 pounds with only morning milking! I went to once a day to cut back on the amount of milk we really needed but she still keeps on keeping on. 

My other doe who kidded in May is not quite 2 1/2  and she is weaning her daughter on her own and has started with the doeling still with her day and night giving me a consistent 2 pounds each morning. 

To answer your first question, yes, even older FFs will give less than they will in future lactations. This is because they will usually continue to give more at each lactation until they peak somewhere -- and that peak varies from goat to goat. Some will peak around 4 years of age, but I have a 7 year old that has already produced more than she did last year, which shocked me last year that she was producing more as a 6 year old than she had as a 5 year old. The difference from year to year, however, is not usually as drastic as what you see between first and second freshenings. So, you can expect to see your doe produce more next year ... and more the year after that ... and so on until she hits her peak.

I used to have a lot of FFs dry up by 6 months, which is why I'm over the moon with my two FF girls now that have been in milk for more than a year! You can't judge a whole lot by a goat's first year production though. Lots of them go on to milk for 10 months or longer on subsequent lactations.

I'm sorry I misread your question. I have found as Deborah said, they seem to do better on the next lactation. 

I agree, the first freshening is not a good test for future production... especially in persistence (how many months she gives you milk).  Also, a doe will most likely give more milk with larger amounts of kids, so having triplets probably helped your doe with her production!   I have a doe that turned 2 in April and had her first freshening at the end of June - she is giving us anywhere from 12-16 oz per milking now that her kids are gone.  I think that's pretty good!  You might want to consider weaning the daughters.  Do you have a place you can keep them where they can't get to their mama?  Then you can either milk her twice a day to increase the production or keep milking her just in the morning, but you will have more milk - I think it's 85% of what you would get in two milkings.

Thanks everyone!  This is so helpful to me.  I don't know that I've got the greatest does as far as milk production.  I guess I should say that I don't have the greatest does.   I'm trying to decide what to do now.  Once I got them, of course I got attached and don't want to give up on them, but...

I think I'm going to have to start a  thread for help deciding who to keep, and who to breed to who.  I'm going to have to make some decisions really soon.

Any way, thanks a lot!

Shannon, I'm also interested in what "drying off early" would mean for a FF? Oh, and a GALLON a day!?!?  That's amazing!  I'd be happy with a quart! :)

Since you have the doe already, and you don't have a huge herd, I'd keep her for a second freshening to see how she does. You can see a dramatic improvement in some, and you just never know which ones it will be.

Everyone, deserves a second chance. At least, and I know how you feel about getting attached, so I hope you take what I am about to say the right way.But sometimes we wish people had told us things earlier, before we got in deeper.

Here goes! I also know you kept bucklings for breeding and they are absolutely adorable. I personally fell in love with Shamrock the moment I first saw his pic! BUT... you really need to think about the fact that if you are not happy with the quality of your does and you breed them to these bucks you will PROBABLY (there are occasional excepts)  produce at best, more of what you have and Possibly even worse. Sorry, but that is just the way it works.

I only bring this up because, I did this with dogs years ago because I get attached. The result was many years, lots of time and money and a bunch of dogs that weren't worth crap!

After you think it through, if you do decide that maybe you should use a buck from better milk lines, but can't bear to part with those two you have then depending on how many goats you want or CAN keep maybe you could just keep them as wethers. If you did, you could always train them for packing or carting or just keep them with your girls so you know when they are in season.

Just a thought, they may be perfectly good bucks, I don't know. All I do know is that if I have to buy new bucks every year, I will not make the mistake I did with my dogs. I could sell a few of my boys a year and put all that money into a nicer buck each year and have the best of the best within a few years and I will. I am tired of putting the same amount of time, energy, and money into junk. As long as we keep goats we will learn more and more about them and what to look for and all of us should always be looking to IMPROVE. I can tell that is what you want and it is what I want so I just thought I would help get your brain juices flowing, as to if your boys actually fit your plan.

I can't say that I feel mine will fit my plan for long. Right now they are perfect, but I HOPE we outgrow what they have to offer soon. Because that will actually be a good thing!

Thanks Margaret, for your thoughts on the subject.  I really do appreciate them.  I have definitely thought about this a lot.

I guess I was taking into account the lines the bucks my does were bred to have brought in.  I think I might have added some improvements to my herd through them.  That was my thought and hope at least.  I'm going to go ahead and give more information for you, but it's going to take a while and I don't have time right now.  I also don't want to bore all of you! :) 

Margaret Langley said:

Everyone, deserves a second chance. At least, and I know how you feel about getting attached, so I hope you take what I am about to say the right way.But sometimes we wish people had told us things earlier, before we got in deeper.

Here goes! I also know you kept bucklings for breeding and they are absolutely adorable. I personally fell in love with Shamrock the moment I first saw his pic! BUT... you really need to think about the fact that if you are not happy with the quality of your does and you breed them to these bucks you will PROBABLY (there are occasional excepts)  produce at best, more of what you have and Possibly even worse. Sorry, but that is just the way it works.

I only bring this up because, I did this with dogs years ago because I get attached. The result was many years, lots of time and money and a bunch of dogs that weren't worth crap!

After you think it through, if you do decide that maybe you should use a buck from better milk lines, but can't bear to part with those two you have then depending on how many goats you want or CAN keep maybe you could just keep them as wethers. If you did, you could always train them for packing or carting or just keep them with your girls so you know when they are in season.

Just a thought, they may be perfectly good bucks, I don't know. All I do know is that if I have to buy new bucks every year, I will not make the mistake I did with my dogs. I could sell a few of my boys a year and put all that money into a nicer buck each year and have the best of the best within a few years and I will. I am tired of putting the same amount of time, energy, and money into junk. As long as we keep goats we will learn more and more about them and what to look for and all of us should always be looking to IMPROVE. I can tell that is what you want and it is what I want so I just thought I would help get your brain juices flowing, as to if your boys actually fit your plan.

I can't say that I feel mine will fit my plan for long. Right now they are perfect, but I HOPE we outgrow what they have to offer soon. Because that will actually be a good thing!

It is entirely possible that if they were, what is referred to as bred up, meaning to much better quality bucks with moms who had great udders and production there could be improvements in your next generation. If so that should have made your does you had born this year better than there moms.

But, I guess my main thought here was this: even though they may be out of very good bucks with productive moms, hopefully improving the follwing does, they are out of the does you have now, and everyone always looks to the sires moms udder to see what they should expect out of the following generations does.

In other words breeding up is a good way to get better does but not necessarily the best way to get good bucks. Now I am not picking on Patty's bucks. I am asking if any one has an opinion as to rather or not I am understanding this correctly.????? I am trying to learn here too!!!! I will have to make these same decisions soon myself and I know I will fall in love with my bucklings also! But at this point I am thinking... hold on to as many nice does as possible and BUY the best one or two bucks I can find to breed them to. Am I crazy? Have I completely lost my mind? Maybe I should not get any new bucks... not sure?

I agree with all you've said here if you are hoping to sell kids for a good price, especially if you'd want to sell bucks in tact.  I can appreciate that, and would hope that people would be very choosy about what they let go from their farm as a buck.  I would certainly do so.  One thing I should say right off though is that I'm in this only to have a few goats because I think they're wonderful, and have milk for my family.  I'm not out to impress anyone, and since this is a homestead and we raise a LOT of our food here, I don't mind raising kids for the freezer if they're not something I'd feel really good about selling to someone else.  Therefore I don't care too much at this point if my buck's bloodlines impress others if they end up giving me what I want (which remains to be seen).

At this time, I feel I have to stick with what I've got, at least until I see how the two daughters (Starlight's) I kept this year mature.  Right now, they look great.  Very healthy, nice and dairy, long and wide (but a bit chubby).  Hopefully they'll have longer legs than their mother. :)  I bred Starlight to a long legged buck, so here's hoping.

I have so much to say, hopefully I can get it out in a way that makes sense.  First off, I didn't mean to sound like I thought Starlight (the FF I started this thread about) was poor quality.  In fact, I'm still very excited to have her.  She comes from some great milking lines, has a very nice mother, and her sister from the same breeding has turned out VERY nice her second freshening (quads).  I can't wait to see how Starlight's daughters turn out.  The buck I bred her to was quality as well, with some of  the same ancestors in the pedigree (Goodwood Tom Thumb and Goodwood Water Lilly, Twin Creeks BH Baywatch) about 4 generations back, I think, for both of them.    I actually kept all her kids, hoping her buckling would pass on some good qualities to my other two does so I could keep their daughters and see what happens.  I'm not sure about that yet though.  I'll explain why later though.  Right now I'm pretty tired, so maybe this isn't making sense.

I don't plan to keep any more bucks from my present does, and will have to find another in future, because I'll run out of breeding possibilities.  You can bet I've learned a thing or two since then, and I'll shop around!  I'll wait patiently for the right thing to come along.  I also won't be selling any bucks from here (unless miraculously I end up with something amazing).  I've sold one that I wethered, and will either wether or send to freezer camp any others that are born.

It's my other two does (and yes, one of them is Shamrock's mother) who I am thinking may not turn out to be very good.  But I'll save that for another day.  I'm interested in what you think about my plans so far though.  If you want to see pedigree information, please click here to go to my farm blog.  Keep being honest if you still think I'm nuts sticking with what I've got here.  If I've answered all the wrong questions, keep asking.

I'll try to share the strengths, weakness's, and ponderings I've been having about Japanzy and Cupcake (my other two does) soon.  Cupcake is the doe I'm really interested in hearing your thoughts on, and the most undecided about.

Margaret Langley said:

It is entirely possible that if they were, what is referred to as bred up, meaning to much better quality bucks with moms who had great udders and production there could be improvements in your next generation. If so that should have made your does you had born this year better than there moms.

But, I guess my main thought here was this: even though they may be out of very good bucks with productive moms, hopefully improving the follwing does, they are out of the does you have now, and everyone always looks to the sires moms udder to see what they should expect out of the following generations does.

In other words breeding up is a good way to get better does but not necessarily the best way to get good bucks. Now I am not picking on Patty's bucks. I am asking if any one has an opinion as to rather or not I am understanding this correctly.????? I am trying to learn here too!!!! I will have to make these same decisions soon myself and I know I will fall in love with my bucklings also! But at this point I am thinking... hold on to as many nice does as possible and BUY the best one or two bucks I can find to breed them to. Am I crazy? Have I completely lost my mind? Maybe I should not get any new bucks... not sure?

You made perfect sense, Patty, and as another who grows most of our own food, I understand your goals.

When it comes to pedigrees, they are really only useful when you are trying to decide what goats to buy. Once a goat is milking, she has to stand on her own four hooves. And the most important goats in a pedigree are the goat's dam and the sire's dam because those are the two does that will have the biggest influence on what this goat becomes.  The goats that are three or four generations back in a pedigree are pretty much inconsequential. They represent such a tiny fraction of your goat's genetics, and the greatest goat in the world may not produce decent offspring when bred to mediocre or poor quality goats. And even the most awesome goats when bred together may produce mediocre offspring at times.

One thing about pedigrees that can be useful is knowing what to expect when it comes to production if the goats in the pedigree have been on milk test. If none of the does in the pedigree have been on test, you don't really know what to expect from their offspring.

At this point, you should be keeping written barn records of production so that you can look back and see exactly how these does are performing. Since they are on your farm already, I'd freshen them a second time to see what they do. Hopefully, you'll be pleasantly surprised. But the written records are important so that you can see how they compare from the first to second freshening.

If I understand correctly, you are keeping bucks out of first fresheners, and I'm not quite sure why you're doing that when you're undecided about whether or not you even want to keep the dams. It's a good idea to continue looking for a buck from an outstanding dam, if you can find one in your area that's available for breeding.

Okay, here's the long story about how I ended up keeping these bucks. :)  At first, I'd hoped not to keep any bucks at all.  I only wanted to freshen my does, and see how things went.  The problem is that there were only two other bucks withing a 3 hour drive of me (that I know of), and they were better than those a three hour drive away.  It so happened they were owned by an acquaintance of mine.  I liked her management style, and looked into the sires and dams of her bucks and was pleasantly surprised.  I chose whom to breed to whom for what I hoped would bring out the best characteristics in their kids, since I planned to sell them or I thought I'd be eating those who didn't sell.  Then, I dropped them off at her farm.

After two days, this woman's son went to trial.  When he was found guilty of the crimes he was tried for, he took out a gun and shot three people.  None of them died, by the way, but it was an awful thing for our tiny community.  To make matters worse, the son died of a fast moving virus a few days later.  He got sick in jail, was rushed to the hospital, and died that day or the next.

It was bitter cold winter weather, the coldest we had all year, and I couldn't get in contact with the woman.  She wasn't answering the phone or the door.  I looked in on the girls a couple of times, prayed a lot, and hoped that in the midst of all the turmoil they were being cared for.  I really couldn't tell anything because the times I was able to stop in were afternoons, when they were almost ready for their evening care.  They never had hay and the water was frozen.  I would have taken them home right then, but I didn't want to hurt my friend by making her think I didn't trust her anymore or didn't want to associate with her because of what her son did.  Since I couldn't personally connect with her, I wrote a note telling her I'd be glad to take them back if it was a burden to her, but if I didn't hear from her I'd be back on the day we'd agreed upon to pick them up.

It was three awful weeks, feeling for my friend, fearful for the welfare of my animals.  It just made me feel that I never wanted to go through the stress of bringing them to another farm again. 

I decided to keep two bucks if they looked good to me, and see what I got out of the deal.  Part of the reason for that was just to get the does bred so I could achieve the goal of having milk at all.  I knew I couldn't possibly tell my husband we needed to spend $ on a good buck.  He wouldn't understand, especially since I'd spent more time and money than he would ever have wanted getting set up for them and getting them in the first place.  Also, and probably more importantly, there isn't $ for that right now.

That's how I ended up where I'm at now...

I hope I'm not being totally irresponsible about this, but it seemed right at the time.  If I don't let any registered kids go from here (at least not any that I'm not reasonably sure of), at least I won't be responsible for passing bad genetics in the breed, correct??

I'll keep you all posted as I move forward here.  I'm hoping and praying to be pleasantly surprised. :)

Thanks for all the input.  I'm learning!


Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:


If I understand correctly, you are keeping bucks out of first fresheners, and I'm not quite sure why you're doing that when you're undecided about whether or not you even want to keep the dams. It's a good idea to continue looking for a buck from an outstanding dam, if you can find one in your area that's available for breeding.

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