Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

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I am looking into purchasing a ND doe and I am primarily interested in milk production capabilities and this would be the foundational doe for my herd. I want to know how much milk is considered a good amount for a ND? I know there are a lot of variables but just want to know what is considered the norm and what is exceptional and what should I expect. The doe I am looking at is currently in milk btw.

Thanks.
Theresa

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I wouldn't expect her to dry up until about 2-3 months before her due date, so you still have a couple of weeks. It can happen VERY suddenly -- as in, she could go from her current production to only a few ounces in three or four days.

The odds that you had three does in heat at the moment your buck broke through the fence is pretty slim. Does do tend to come into heat together, but unless he was in there all day, they may not have all been in standing heat. There is also the possibility that he didn't have a high enough sperm count to actually settle three does in a short amount of time. Personally I don't like to have a buck breed more than two does a day. Yeah, he might have the sperm count to pull it off, but I hate to waste a month if he doesn't.

It is VERY unusual for a doe to continue milking through pregnancy. I know someone with a commercial dairy who had a la mancha that jumped off the milk stand one day, laid down, and pushed out a couple of kids. But that's highly unusual, and I doubt she would have been so surprised if she'd been hand milking. When hand milking, I'd think you'd see the change from mature milk to colostrum, which is more yellow and thicker. For years, my daughter and I used to argue about whether or not to dry off does because they should have been 3 months pregnant -- and those were from breedings that we saw happen. My daughter used to always insist that the doe wasn't pregnant, if she was still milking well, and I wouldn't believe her. She was always right. 

If you really need to know if the doe is pregnant, you can do a milk pregnancy test. Info is in this article:

http://www.homegrownandhandmadethebook.com/2015/01/is-my-goat-pregn...

They say you should dry off a doe towards the end of pregnancy so that her body can put all its resources into growing the unborn kids, but I don't know if that's supported by any research or if it's just based upon practice, which was probably dictated by the fact that most does just dry up when they're pregnant. Some humans continue to nurse one child through pregnancy, and there aren't any negative consequences from that.

Deborah,

As you said, my doe's production has dropped drastically in the past few days. She is confirmed pregnant. My bucks are housed together, and were safely in their run for morning chores. By the time I returned from work and began evening chores the two naughty bucks were exhausted and returned to their barn while I mended the fence. The two settled three does and I have no clue who settled which doe. Having three does due on the same day should be interesting. DNA testing will be preformed once the kids are born.

Thank you for your words of wisdom!

Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:

I wouldn't expect her to dry up until about 2-3 months before her due date, so you still have a couple of weeks. It can happen VERY suddenly -- as in, she could go from her current production to only a few ounces in three or four days.

The odds that you had three does in heat at the moment your buck broke through the fence is pretty slim. Does do tend to come into heat together, but unless he was in there all day, they may not have all been in standing heat. There is also the possibility that he didn't have a high enough sperm count to actually settle three does in a short amount of time. Personally I don't like to have a buck breed more than two does a day. Yeah, he might have the sperm count to pull it off, but I hate to waste a month if he doesn't.

It is VERY unusual for a doe to continue milking through pregnancy. I know someone with a commercial dairy who had a la mancha that jumped off the milk stand one day, laid down, and pushed out a couple of kids. But that's highly unusual, and I doubt she would have been so surprised if she'd been hand milking. When hand milking, I'd think you'd see the change from mature milk to colostrum, which is more yellow and thicker. For years, my daughter and I used to argue about whether or not to dry off does because they should have been 3 months pregnant -- and those were from breedings that we saw happen. My daughter used to always insist that the doe wasn't pregnant, if she was still milking well, and I wouldn't believe her. She was always right. 

If you really need to know if the doe is pregnant, you can do a milk pregnancy test. Info is in this article:

http://www.homegrownandhandmadethebook.com/2015/01/is-my-goat-pregn...

They say you should dry off a doe towards the end of pregnancy so that her body can put all its resources into growing the unborn kids, but I don't know if that's supported by any research or if it's just based upon practice, which was probably dictated by the fact that most does just dry up when they're pregnant. Some humans continue to nurse one child through pregnancy, and there aren't any negative consequences from that.

Was this per milking, or per day?

Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:

As an example -- this is Anne when she was 4 years, 0 months at freshening. (She got chosen because her name is first on my milk report, which is alphabetical.)

34 days -- 4.4#

64 days -- 3.6#

101 days -- 2.0#

130 days -- 2.0#

159 days -- 1.9#

191 days -- 1.8#

225 days -- 1.6#

261 days -- 1.0#

295 days -- 0.6#

Her complete lactation was 304 days, and she produced 632 pounds of milk, so she averaged a quart a day. And from 101 to 159 days, that's about what she was producing. But if she had been producing only a quart at 30 days, she probably would not have even sustained a lactation for six months. At around 6-7 weeks, the production peaks, so it will be decreasing from then to the end of the lactation.

This is a respectable lactation for a ND, and it is enough to earn a 305-day milk star in AGS. If a first freshener milked this much, that would be outstanding. A three to five year old is at the peak of her career, so if you don't see good production numbers at that age, you're not going to see them.

A quick update: I have a ff who is on day 318 and producing right around a pound of milk per day. Its not consistently a pound per day. It's sometimes a little more or less.

Kare, what is your website? I'm curious about the system to gauge milk production that you speak of.

Thanks,

Peggy

northerndawnnigerians.com

Kare said:

I think it is a matter of what you are willing to accept.  When I was looking for does, I only considered those who had dams who peaked at 3 1/2 pounds per day or more.  One of my yearlings had a 19" dam that gave 3# per day at peak in her first freshening (barn weight).  That is a great milker!

I found a great system that tells you how much your goat gives proportionate to her size and found it to be very helpful.  It's called NDPS and I have a page about it on my website.   For example, a 19" tall first freshener doe who gives 3# per day at peak would be equal to a 21.5" tall first freshener doe who gives about 3 3/4# per day at peak, assuming they were both a good weight and not over or underweight.

Another thing to keep in mind is that what you feed them as well as how many kids they have can affect milk production.  Do you want to have to feed them certain foods (grain, alfalfa, etc)  in order to get high milk yields?  or do you want high milk yield based on hay or grazing only?  These are all things to keep in mind when you are looking =)  If you look at smaller does that give 3# per day (at peak) or more, it will hopefully cost you less to feed them.  But if you have lots of hay available or fields to graze, then a larger doe may be what you are looking for.

One final thing to consider is the teats.  If a doe has a soft udder and large openings (orifices) and long teats, but only gives 3# per day at 3 years old, that is often more preferable than a doe with small orifices who is difficult to milk and give 4# or more per day... unless you are not milking by hand, then it wouldn't really matter.

Deborah, I didn't realize a quart a day was outstanding for a yearling.  That's good to know!

Peggy,

I have looked for that NDPS info too, though not very seriously because we are not milking (yet). There is a hyperlink to it on a Pholia Farm web page, but that particular page might be old news because the hyperlink does not work.

See the Pholia page and scroll down and the link is in blue (Nigerian Dwarf Production, and maybe the S is for Schedule??). May be worth contacting Gianaclis?

http://pholiafarm.com/milk-and-milking/

Regards,

Michael

Peggy Boone said:

Kare, what is your website? I'm curious about the system to gauge milk production that you speak of.

Thanks,

Peggy

northerndawnnigerians.com

Kare said:

I think it is a matter of what you are willing to accept.  When I was looking for does, I only considered those who had dams who peaked at 3 1/2 pounds per day or more.  One of my yearlings had a 19" dam that gave 3# per day at peak in her first freshening (barn weight).  That is a great milker!

I found a great system that tells you how much your goat gives proportionate to her size and found it to be very helpful.  It's called NDPS and I have a page about it on my website.   For example, a 19" tall first freshener doe who gives 3# per day at peak would be equal to a 21.5" tall first freshener doe who gives about 3 3/4# per day at peak, assuming they were both a good weight and not over or underweight.

Another thing to keep in mind is that what you feed them as well as how many kids they have can affect milk production.  Do you want to have to feed them certain foods (grain, alfalfa, etc)  in order to get high milk yields?  or do you want high milk yield based on hay or grazing only?  These are all things to keep in mind when you are looking =)  If you look at smaller does that give 3# per day (at peak) or more, it will hopefully cost you less to feed them.  But if you have lots of hay available or fields to graze, then a larger doe may be what you are looking for.

One final thing to consider is the teats.  If a doe has a soft udder and large openings (orifices) and long teats, but only gives 3# per day at 3 years old, that is often more preferable than a doe with small orifices who is difficult to milk and give 4# or more per day... unless you are not milking by hand, then it wouldn't really matter.

Deborah, I didn't realize a quart a day was outstanding for a yearling.  That's good to know!

Today makes 500 DIM for my ff now!!!


Phebe said:

A quick update: I have a ff who is on day 318 and producing right around a pound of milk per day. Its not consistently a pound per day. It's sometimes a little more or less.

Congratulations! That's awesome!

Phebe said:

Today makes 500 DIM for my ff now!!!


Almost at 600 DIM for my ff.
I think I'm going to breed her next month, so obviously she will dry off.

Wow! Thanks for the update!

Phebe said:

Almost at 600 DIM for my ff.
I think I'm going to breed her next month, so obviously she will dry off.
I have a FF right now giving 2 pounds per day at 359 days fresh. I'm not breeding her because I want to see how long she can keep this up.

That's great!

Phebe said:

I have a FF right now giving 2 pounds per day at 359 days fresh. I'm not breeding her because I want to see how long she can keep this up.

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