for people who love the littlest dairy goats
I found that article interesting as well. I did try it with the doeling that I raised this year and could see how it could help the development. I plan on implementing some of the techniques again in the spring.
I can definitely see how letting the udder stretch at night could help with production when the kids are weaned.
I like the idea of separating kids overnight and milking in the morning -- but NOT with all goats at one or two weeks. It is VERY individualized from goat to goat, and either this person has some bucket-busting milkers, or she is content with small kids that have coccidia and worm problems routinely, which many people think are "normal." I couldn't find any health info on her website, so don't know if she is one who starts kids on coccidiostats routinely at three weeks of age.
It's not as cut and dried as she makes it sound. Following her method with a first freshener that has twins, which is the one with the smallest teats, is going to result in kids that are not gaining well in the vast majority of cases -- this would not work with close to 100% of NDs. If you look at milk records, you can see that first fresheners produce WAY less than mature does. If you're new to goats, you won't know that your kids are smaller because you have nothing to compare them to. Then you're going to start having problems with coccidiosis and worms and think that you just have to give kids drugs all the time. You will even have problems doing this with most mature does. I have had very few goats over the years who have had more milk than their kids could consume, and one of them was a LaMancha. NDs have only been bred for dairy for the past 20 years or so, and there is no way I'd recommend this without daily weighing of kids to be sure they're gaining an average of 4 ounces every day.
This method works great with dairy cows, which have been bred for decades to produce more than their calf could possibly consume.
It is also not true that their udder and teats won't develop if you let the does dam raise. Our best milker, which was #1 on the AGS one-day milk test when she was four years old dam raised her triplets as a first freshener. We didn't start milking her until the kids were two months old. Her production peaked at 6.5# per day (3 quarts and one cup). But looking at does through the years, all of their teats get bigger within the first few weeks after they freshen, even if they're dam raising kids. The teats are stretched out by the kids nursing. And they do improve over the months. We once bought a LaMancha who had freshened within the past month or two, and her breeder saw her at a show a few months later and was amazed by her teat and udder development.
She also only lays one scenario -- let kids nurse 100%, then wean completely -- which I don't advocate. It's best to start putting a FF on the milk stand every day and milking out whatever is there without separating the kids. You probably won't get much, if anything, but it trains her to the milk stand, and she understands that she gets grain while you milk her. That eliminates the fighting, laying down, and so on if she is never put on the milk stand until the kids are two months old. If you start separating kids at two months, that does give her udder a chance to fill up overnight, and the kids nursing during the day will encourage it to continue to produce milk.
It's unfortunate that people think a doe is "holding back" when we milk, and it's something I used to think until I actually read the research. It's nothing she's doing on purpose. It's just that when kids nurse, it causes a much larger release of oxytocin, which is responsible for the milk let down. The doe just doesn't love us as much as she loves her kids -- but that's not usually a problem if you've been putting her on the milk stand from the beginning (even without separating the kids).
"Separating the kids" at such a young age without any regard for their well-being in a way that can be easily measured by anyone -- weighing them daily -- is the main problem I have with this article. This year we were weighing all of our kids almost daily in the beginning and then every few days for research purposes, and we were lucky to be doing it because we were very surprised to see that a 9-year-old with a single could not produce enough to feed her kid adequately when it was separated overnight, even though she was one of our best milkers in her prime. So, you just cannot make any assumptions. And her criteria for a kid that's not thriving would be one that's way below average. That single this year looked and acted fine, but she was not gaining enough.
And kids do not hold onto the teats with their teeth. If they did, you'd have bleeding teats all over the place. The only two cases of bleeding teats we've had in 550 kids was with kids that were 6 months old, so I didn't feel bad at all weaning them. The kids keep the teat in their mouth with suction, and the tongue covers the lower teeth, and they have no teeth on the top in the front.
She also talks about kids eating other things as if that is as good as milk. It's not. A kid's ability to eat has nothing to do with it's need for milk. There is nothing a kid can eat that has the protein, calcium, and antibodies in it that milk does. That's why you see coccidiosis in kids that are not getting enough milk. They're not getting enough antibodies. And the kids don't grow as fast.
:) Thanks, Deborah. I agree with what you're saying here. I do think that maybe she has some points about the udder and teats stretching, based on some things I've seen with my does. I don't think it's worth compromising on the health of the kids though, and I agree that it certainly would. Also the longer the kids can nurse the more the teats seem to stretch as well.