Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

Newbie- I've got some pressing questions for the experts!

Hello everyone!

I am a Nigerian owner wanna-be. Still no goats yet, but they've finally legalized them in Seattle so I've been on a mission to become an informed lady before I get one! I've always wanted a goat as a pet, but I've since also fallen in love with the idea of fresh raw goat milk every morning. 

I've read articles, books, videos, and spoken with some goat-owner friends as far as basic care and health goes, but I still have a few unanswered questions. If anyone can lend a helping hand it would be much appreciated!

1. I'm reading contradicting statements pertaining to how does come to lactate. One argument is that she must have had a kid before she can begin producing milk. Then I've also heard that by giving the doe oxytocin or some other stimulant, you'll reap the same result. The reason I ask is because I'd prefer to get a doe young, but I won't have the space or requirements to breed her and go through that process. 

2. Usually no more than once a year, I go out of town for about 1-2 weeks. I live in a urban area, where finding someone to feed them wouldn't be a problem, but milking is a whole other issue. And I know many goats are picky about who milks them. If I'd need to hire someone I will, but if there are ways around it I'd like to hear of them.
I know that goats need to be milked daily if you want to keep up their production, and I know that you can "dry" them up too by decreasing how much you milk them. Sort of along the lines of the first question, has anyone had experience with gradually drying up their doe, and then being able to re-stimulate your goat to produce milk?

I appologize if I sound offensive or ignorant. Like I said I'm a complete amateur on a tight budget, so please bear that in mind before eating me out!

Thank you in advance, and I look forward to learning from all of you!

Views: 324

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Hi Michelle,

I was curious about what you said about stimulating milk production. I did a bit of reading and couldn't find anything about using oxytocin to cause the doe to produce milk, only to cause her to let down what she already has. I did find some information on this webpage

http://goatkingdom.tripod.com/milk-secretion

that says other hormones can be used, but what it says is this:

13 Artificial induction of lactation has been accomplished in goats with good results by injections of hexestrol at a daily rate of 0.25 mg. Pellet implantations of estrogen and progesterone have also successfully created udder growth, with final treatment of estrogens to initiate lactation. Artificial induction of lactation has experimental value, but is not practical for several reasons. Injections must be given over a period of time on a daily basis, or tablet implants must be inserted. The methods are costly, labor intensive, give a low yield of milk, and do not produce income from the sale of the kids. There may also be questions of safety of the milk after using these injections.


My own opinion (which shouldn't stop you from doing what is best for you) is that stimulating milk production without kidding isn't in the best interest of the goat. I don't have specific facts to back that opinion up, I just prefer things to be done a bit more "naturally". I'm also uncomfortable with the use of hormones in my food that the animal didn't produce itself. But, once again, that's just my opinion. I milk my NDGs for commercial cheese production and I know that if I were to start using artificial hormones in the process, I would lose a lot of customers. 

As an interesting fact related to stimulating milk production, I know cows in the US are frequently given hormones to make them produce more milk but doing that is actually banned here in Canada. 


I've never heard of giving a doe hormones to stimulate milk production.  I've heard of a precocious milker (a doe who randomly starts producing something more or less milk like), but it's rare for a doe to make milk without kidding, usually there isn't as much milk produced, and I think what is produced doesn't necessarily have all of the components of milk produced to feed offspring.  I could be wrong about this, so I hope someone else chimes in for you.

If you don't have the space for two goats, you may want to re-think.  I ended up bringing one doe home alone when I first got going with them.  She wouldn't eat without me sitting next to her picking through the hay, and after three days, she wouldn't eat at all.  She cried all the time.  It was miserable for all of us, and on day 4 I made a trip to get another doe.  Doe #1 was so happy!  She began to eat immediately.

It can be hard finding someone to milk for you, but maybe you could find someone else to switch favors with.  I know there are at least two other Seattle area Nigi owners on this forum. ;) 

Drying off a doe all depends on the doe.  Some will dry off easily, while some will not.  Of you planned your trips for the end of her lactation, you should be able to easily dry her off.  However, you would most likely not be successful at getting her to produce milk again. 

If she had kids on her at the time of your trip, then you could let the kids do the job while you were gone. 

If she was producing a lot of milk at the time of your trip, it would be painful and dangerous for her if you attempted to dry her off.  Someone else on here may be able to tell you how it could be safely done.  I've only had experience with drying off a doe at the end of her lactation, when she was giving only a cup a day.  Once again, if you successfully dried her off, she probably would not begin producing again.

Best wishes! :)

First of all, WELCOME!! All of the advice you've gotten so far is great! I'll add my two cents. :)

1. One argument is that she must have had a kid before she can begin producing milk. Then I've also heard that by giving the doe oxytocin or some other stimulant, you'll reap the same result. 

Milk production is basically the same across the board, so think of your goat's production like you would human milk production. The simple summary is this: You have a baby, your body makes milk. That's the basics. Humans can pump to stimulate milk production. The problem, is multi layered. Just because it CAN be done, doesn't mean it will work for each person. In the same way, hormones might not work on every doe, so you'd be taking that risk. Also, in goats, there are some does that control their milk well enough to keep from letting it all out. Because they have that kind of control, I'd be worried that might make it even harder to stimulate production in the absence of kids.

Re: space requirements, I'm not sure how much space you're expecting to need, but you should at least have two goats. Goats are herd animals, and they NEED other goats with them. Especially if you are in a city environment. Single goats are noisy when they are lonely, and they often put a lot more effort into escaping if they don't have a goaty friend with them. That said, Nigerian's don't take up a lot of space!! Most city lots can support at least two of them. Babies are small, and leave well before they take up full sized goat space, so  you might acutally have the room you're thinking you don't.

2.Sort of along the lines of the first question, has anyone had experience with gradually drying up their doe, and then being able to re-stimulate your goat to produce milk?

I am in agreement with those that think this would not be a good idea. For all the reasons already listed. The solutions are also good. I'll share another solution with you. I own a personal milker, and my doe did well with it. I would suggest getting your doe used to a personal milker, and then teach your sitter to use it before you leave. This will help your goats because there will be a consistency in the way milking FEELS that you can't get by hand milking. Even if you choose to hand milk when you are home, you could start getting your does used to the milkers before you leave, and then the change when you're gone would only be limited to WHO is operating the machine. I own the Henry Milker, but there are others on the market too.

Hi Michelle,

I'm a Seattle goat owner, own 2 nigerian does, and three 6 week old bucklings that were born here.  My other doe is due to kid very soon and will probably also have triplets.  I agree with everyone's comments here.  You'll need to expect to breed your does once a year in order for them to lactate.  Some does will milk through, meaning that they can sometimes lactate for two years without being rebred, but this is extremely rare and even more rare amongst Nigerians.  I also agree that you'll need to plan have at least 2 goats, either 2 does or a doe and wether companion, or two wethers if you decide milk is not important.  A wether is a castrated male goat, just in case you weren't sure.

You can keep two Nigerians in a surprisingly small area if you manage them properly.  I keep my does and their kids in an approx. 400 sq foot area with additional covered barn space.  They also have access to my side yard for extra exercise several times per week.  You're welcome to come over and check out my set up.  In this small area, I'm hyper aware of managing the bedding, manure, and compost carefully.  I've become very good at fast composting with minimal smell, and the compost often gets sold or bartered to gardeners to offset my feed bill.  I'm also open to goat-sitting swaps, have become very good at milking stubborn goats, etc.  I live in the White Center neighborhood.

Let me know if you'd like to see my set-up sometime.  Glad you are researching things ahead of time.  There are many other goat owners around the city now that I could introduce you to.  I'm also founder of the Seattle Farm Co-op, a member-owned feed and livestock supply store - www.seattlefarmcoop.com - you might also consider taking Seattle Tilth's City Goats 101 class that they offer - www.seattletilth.org 

Best,

~Charmaine

Hi Marin,

Thank you so much for the info!

I definitely agree, I would much rather not use hormones or anything else unnaturally occurring. There's no way for me to get around being away those 1-2 weeks, but looks like my best bet is to find a swap buddy.

I am Canadian too, by the way, and proudly so! It's always nice to bump into another.

Thanks again! I really appreciate it!

Marin Waddell said:

Hi Michelle,

I was curious about what you said about stimulating milk production. I did a bit of reading and couldn't find anything about using oxytocin to cause the doe to produce milk, only to cause her to let down what she already has. I did find some information on this webpage

http://goatkingdom.tripod.com/milk-secretion

that says other hormones can be used, but what it says is this:

13 Artificial induction of lactation has been accomplished in goats with good results by injections of hexestrol at a daily rate of 0.25 mg. Pellet implantations of estrogen and progesterone have also successfully created udder growth, with final treatment of estrogens to initiate lactation. Artificial induction of lactation has experimental value, but is not practical for several reasons. Injections must be given over a period of time on a daily basis, or tablet implants must be inserted. The methods are costly, labor intensive, give a low yield of milk, and do not produce income from the sale of the kids. There may also be questions of safety of the milk after using these injections.


My own opinion (which shouldn't stop you from doing what is best for you) is that stimulating milk production without kidding isn't in the best interest of the goat. I don't have specific facts to back that opinion up, I just prefer things to be done a bit more "naturally". I'm also uncomfortable with the use of hormones in my food that the animal didn't produce itself. But, once again, that's just my opinion. I milk my NDGs for commercial cheese production and I know that if I were to start using artificial hormones in the process, I would lose a lot of customers. 

As an interesting fact related to stimulating milk production, I know cows in the US are frequently given hormones to make them produce more milk but doing that is actually banned here in Canada. 


Hi Patty,

Thanks so much for your response!

I think I keep forgetting how tiny Nigerians are! I must keep comparing them to a large Nubian I used to know. I have at least 1000 Sqft of a backyard, so based on the responses I've received, that should be more than plenty for two goats. 

Thanks again for all the info on "drying up" your goat. You've been extremely helpful!

Patty Meyer said:

I've never heard of giving a doe hormones to stimulate milk production.  I've heard of a precocious milker (a doe who randomly starts producing something more or less milk like), but it's rare for a doe to make milk without kidding, usually there isn't as much milk produced, and I think what is produced doesn't necessarily have all of the components of milk produced to feed offspring.  I could be wrong about this, so I hope someone else chimes in for you.

If you don't have the space for two goats, you may want to re-think.  I ended up bringing one doe home alone when I first got going with them.  She wouldn't eat without me sitting next to her picking through the hay, and after three days, she wouldn't eat at all.  She cried all the time.  It was miserable for all of us, and on day 4 I made a trip to get another doe.  Doe #1 was so happy!  She began to eat immediately.

It can be hard finding someone to milk for you, but maybe you could find someone else to switch favors with.  I know there are at least two other Seattle area Nigi owners on this forum. ;) 

Drying off a doe all depends on the doe.  Some will dry off easily, while some will not.  Of you planned your trips for the end of her lactation, you should be able to easily dry her off.  However, you would most likely not be successful at getting her to produce milk again. 

If she had kids on her at the time of your trip, then you could let the kids do the job while you were gone. 

If she was producing a lot of milk at the time of your trip, it would be painful and dangerous for her if you attempted to dry her off.  Someone else on here may be able to tell you how it could be safely done.  I've only had experience with drying off a doe at the end of her lactation, when she was giving only a cup a day.  Once again, if you successfully dried her off, she probably would not begin producing again.

Best wishes! :)

Hi Rachel,

Thank you for all the info and expertise! I've learned so  much already, I'm glad I posted this :)

I would love to learn how to hand-milk, but I think for time and convenience's sake, I'll definitely look into the milker you suggested.

I was also concerned about noise- thank you for pointing out that lonelier goats are noisier! I wouldn't want them to be lonely to begin with, but that's just another excuse for me to get more than one :)

Thanks again!

Rachel Whetzel said:

First of all, WELCOME!! All of the advice you've gotten so far is great! I'll add my two cents. :)

1. One argument is that she must have had a kid before she can begin producing milk. Then I've also heard that by giving the doe oxytocin or some other stimulant, you'll reap the same result. 

Milk production is basically the same across the board, so think of your goat's production like you would human milk production. The simple summary is this: You have a baby, your body makes milk. That's the basics. Humans can pump to stimulate milk production. The problem, is multi layered. Just because it CAN be done, doesn't mean it will work for each person. In the same way, hormones might not work on every doe, so you'd be taking that risk. Also, in goats, there are some does that control their milk well enough to keep from letting it all out. Because they have that kind of control, I'd be worried that might make it even harder to stimulate production in the absence of kids.

Re: space requirements, I'm not sure how much space you're expecting to need, but you should at least have two goats. Goats are herd animals, and they NEED other goats with them. Especially if you are in a city environment. Single goats are noisy when they are lonely, and they often put a lot more effort into escaping if they don't have a goaty friend with them. That said, Nigerian's don't take up a lot of space!! Most city lots can support at least two of them. Babies are small, and leave well before they take up full sized goat space, so  you might acutally have the room you're thinking you don't.

2.Sort of along the lines of the first question, has anyone had experience with gradually drying up their doe, and then being able to re-stimulate your goat to produce milk?

I am in agreement with those that think this would not be a good idea. For all the reasons already listed. The solutions are also good. I'll share another solution with you. I own a personal milker, and my doe did well with it. I would suggest getting your doe used to a personal milker, and then teach your sitter to use it before you leave. This will help your goats because there will be a consistency in the way milking FEELS that you can't get by hand milking. Even if you choose to hand milk when you are home, you could start getting your does used to the milkers before you leave, and then the change when you're gone would only be limited to WHO is operating the machine. I own the Henry Milker, but there are others on the market too.

Hi Charmaine,

SO  glad to meet a fellow Seattlelite!

First off I have to ask- how did you get away with having over 3 goats on your property? Do you have over 10,000 sqft? I ask because I have a dog, which allows me to only have two goats, so if one of our goats had twins, we'd be in trouble!

I would love to come by sometime, that's so generous of you! And yes, even if I am still goatless, I'd love to learn from you what  can and help out if you're ever out of town.

If there's anyone you think  I should talk to, I'd love to hear what they have to say!

Thanks again, look forward to meeting in the future!

P.s. I've come upon your website before- thank you for putting it together!


Charmaine Slaven said:

Hi Michelle,

I'm a Seattle goat owner, own 2 nigerian does, and three 6 week old bucklings that were born here.  My other doe is due to kid very soon and will probably also have triplets.  I agree with everyone's comments here.  You'll need to expect to breed your does once a year in order for them to lactate.  Some does will milk through, meaning that they can sometimes lactate for two years without being rebred, but this is extremely rare and even more rare amongst Nigerians.  I also agree that you'll need to plan have at least 2 goats, either 2 does or a doe and wether companion, or two wethers if you decide milk is not important.  A wether is a castrated male goat, just in case you weren't sure.

You can keep two Nigerians in a surprisingly small area if you manage them properly.  I keep my does and their kids in an approx. 400 sq foot area with additional covered barn space.  They also have access to my side yard for extra exercise several times per week.  You're welcome to come over and check out my set up.  In this small area, I'm hyper aware of managing the bedding, manure, and compost carefully.  I've become very good at fast composting with minimal smell, and the compost often gets sold or bartered to gardeners to offset my feed bill.  I'm also open to goat-sitting swaps, have become very good at milking stubborn goats, etc.  I live in the White Center neighborhood.

Let me know if you'd like to see my set-up sometime.  Glad you are researching things ahead of time.  There are many other goat owners around the city now that I could introduce you to.  I'm also founder of the Seattle Farm Co-op, a member-owned feed and livestock supply store - www.seattlefarmcoop.com - you might also consider taking Seattle Tilth's City Goats 101 class that they offer - www.seattletilth.org 

Best,

~Charmaine

Oops.. also forgot to ask- Do you have intact males on your property that breed with your doe, or do you "borrow" one?

Charmaine Slaven said:

Hi Michelle,

I'm a Seattle goat owner, own 2 nigerian does, and three 6 week old bucklings that were born here.  My other doe is due to kid very soon and will probably also have triplets.  I agree with everyone's comments here.  You'll need to expect to breed your does once a year in order for them to lactate.  Some does will milk through, meaning that they can sometimes lactate for two years without being rebred, but this is extremely rare and even more rare amongst Nigerians.  I also agree that you'll need to plan have at least 2 goats, either 2 does or a doe and wether companion, or two wethers if you decide milk is not important.  A wether is a castrated male goat, just in case you weren't sure.

You can keep two Nigerians in a surprisingly small area if you manage them properly.  I keep my does and their kids in an approx. 400 sq foot area with additional covered barn space.  They also have access to my side yard for extra exercise several times per week.  You're welcome to come over and check out my set up.  In this small area, I'm hyper aware of managing the bedding, manure, and compost carefully.  I've become very good at fast composting with minimal smell, and the compost often gets sold or bartered to gardeners to offset my feed bill.  I'm also open to goat-sitting swaps, have become very good at milking stubborn goats, etc.  I live in the White Center neighborhood.

Let me know if you'd like to see my set-up sometime.  Glad you are researching things ahead of time.  There are many other goat owners around the city now that I could introduce you to.  I'm also founder of the Seattle Farm Co-op, a member-owned feed and livestock supply store - www.seattlefarmcoop.com - you might also consider taking Seattle Tilth's City Goats 101 class that they offer - www.seattletilth.org 

Best,

~Charmaine

Welcome to the group! You've received great advice in answer to your questions. I'll just add that I'm going to be speaking at the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup on June 2-3, and it would be great to meet some of you Seattle goat people!

Here is more info:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/fair/home.aspx

There are also dozens of other awesome speakers and topics! I'm really looking forward to it!

Hi Michelle,

the way the law is written for Seattleites, you're allowed to keep all associated offspring from your goats up until weaning... so basically you're allowed 3 small animals per lot (goats, dogs, etc.) plus their offspring up until they are weaned.  Some folks wean by 8 weeks, but you could let them go longer to help you with milking.  Some folks have dam raised kids that are a year old!  You can find the exact wording of the ordinance on the Seattle Dept. of Neighborhoods website.  It also stipulates that all goats are dehorned, and no intact males are allowed.  

For breeding, I've got a deal worked out with the lady I bought my goats from to take them back for driveway breeding.  It's important to locate buck service well ahead of breeding time.  Most breeders are very particular about this due to chance of passing contagious diseases, so they will demand that your does have annual blood tests to check for CL/CAE/Brucellosis and that they are in good health.  Even with the testing, most breeders will not board your goat, so you need to get good at detecting when your does go in to heat, then pack them up in the car and take them to the buck ASAP.

Anyhow, let me know when you want to come over.  Email me directly at charmaine@seattlefarmcoop.com  What neighborhood are you in?

Cheers,

~Charmaine


Hi Charmaine,

That's great to know! Makes sense.

What is your opinion on buying a doe as a kid or as an adult? I would love the experience of raising a kid, but I think I'll also be anxiously waiting for when they're old enough to kid and produce milk! I suppose getting an adult doe cuts out some of that time. What do you think?

I am definitely going to take you up on your offer! We live in the Greenlake/Greenwood area.

Thanks again, you've been so much help already!

Charmaine Slaven said:

Hi Michelle,

the way the law is written for Seattleites, you're allowed to keep all associated offspring from your goats up until weaning... so basically you're allowed 3 small animals per lot (goats, dogs, etc.) plus their offspring up until they are weaned.  Some folks wean by 8 weeks, but you could let them go longer to help you with milking.  Some folks have dam raised kids that are a year old!  You can find the exact wording of the ordinance on the Seattle Dept. of Neighborhoods website.  It also stipulates that all goats are dehorned, and no intact males are allowed.  

For breeding, I've got a deal worked out with the lady I bought my goats from to take them back for driveway breeding.  It's important to locate buck service well ahead of breeding time.  Most breeders are very particular about this due to chance of passing contagious diseases, so they will demand that your does have annual blood tests to check for CL/CAE/Brucellosis and that they are in good health.  Even with the testing, most breeders will not board your goat, so you need to get good at detecting when your does go in to heat, then pack them up in the car and take them to the buck ASAP.

Anyhow, let me know when you want to come over.  Email me directly at charmaine@seattlefarmcoop.com  What neighborhood are you in?

Cheers,

~Charmaine


Reply to Discussion

RSS

Books written by Deborah Niemann

Order this book on Kindle!

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Need goat equipment?

Yogurt Maker

2-quart milk pail


Mineral feeder (put minerals in one side and baking soda in the other!)

© 2021   Created by Deborah Niemann-Boehle.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service