Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

Someone posted this question on my page:

I wonder how we'll learn to milk her if she's nursing her twins. How long do the twins stay with her and when would we start to milk her?

Since it is such a common question, I thought it would be great to post it in the forum and have others chime in on how they handle this, because I'm sure others have ideas and suggestions!

This is my answer:
You can start to separate the kids overnight at around two weeks of age if they're twins. If they're triplets, I wouldn't try until a month, and if she has quads, I don't do it until they're two months of age. For a single, I start within a few days of birth. First time, only separate for eight or ten hours, then milk the doe. Don't worry about getting a lot of milk. At this point, you're working on your technique and getting her used to the routine. It needs to be as pleasant as possible, so that the doe understands that being milked is a good thing.

Hopefully, you've been giving her grain on the milkstand since the end of her pregnancy, but if not, that's where you need to start. If she's never been on the milkstand before, start by getting her on the milkstand to just eat grain twice a day. After a couple days, start touching her udder. She'll probably kick at your hand, but don't move it. Just leave it there until she calms down. After a few days of that, you can start to separate overnight and milk in the morning.

Keep an eye on the kids and make sure they're continuing to gain weight. If they're still nice and chunky with full tummies, you can separate every night, although very few does will make enough milk to feed more than one kid adequately when being separated every night. In most cases, you will only be able to separate two or three times a week until the kids are closer to two months old. If this is a first freshener, you might need to wait until they're six weeks to even separate a couple times a week, because first fresheners are not usually great producers.

Some people wean kids at two or three months, but others (like me) leave does and wethers with their moms forever (or until sold) and just separate overnight when we want to milk them. We currently have 13 does in milk, but we only have to milk six of them twice a day, because their kids are sold. The others still have kids nursing, so we can decide how many we want to milk every morning, based upon how much milk we need. We are only keeping five doelings, so after the rest of the kids are sold, we will have eight that have to be milked twice a day.

This is a good system for people who are new to milking, because the kids will keep up the supply while you're learning. People who have never milked a goat and try to bottle raise kids often have trouble learning to milk, and once the doe's production goes down, it's tough to get it back up. They wind up feeding the kids milk replacer, and they have no milk for their family.

Added Sept. 18, 2013: Figuring out if kids are gaining adequate weight is virtually impossible for someone who is new to goats or does not have other kids to compare. So, before separating the kids every night, you should also look at how much milk you are getting from the doe. Ideally a kid should be getting 24 ounces per day, but 32 ounces is not unreasonable for a dam-raised kid that is snacking all day long. This means that if you separate her from the twins every night, she would need to be making 3 quarts a day (12 cups or 6 pounds) to adequately feed the kids enough milk while they are together during the day. This would mean that you would get 1.5 quarts (6 cups) when milking her in the morning.

Views: 2976

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I would really like to milk but can not commit to twice a day...I realize I would get less milk but is it possible to just milk in the morning without it being harmful or causing the doe to dry up?

How much different is milking a goat versus milking a cow? I have experience milking cows but not goats. And what is the best way to maximize the amount of milk to keep for my own use? Can I feed just milk replacer to the kids?

Thank you for posting this Deborah!

IMO, milk replacer should only be fed to kids if it is your only option -- in other words, it's milk replacer or death. People will argue all day about whether cows milk or milk replacer is better, but quite simply, kids will be much healthier if fed goat milk, especially straight from mom because it has antibodies in it that will help them fight off germs, as well as coccidia. I've heard of plenty of kids getting diarrhea and dieing on milk replacer, but (knock on wood), I've raised more than 250 kids so far and not a single one has ever died from diarrhea.

In my experience, you will also get a lot more milk if you let the kids nurse. It is all about supply and demand, and if you can only milk twice a day, there is no way you can push that doe to supply as much as a couple of hungry kids can. I see this ALL the time, year after year, that the does' productions go down after kids are sold or weaned. So, there are two reasons I never wean does that I keep -- it's my health insurance for the replacement doelings, AND the adults produce more milk if you leave the kids on them. First freshener especially will produce a lot more if you leave kids on them. I had two freshen this fall, and after I sold their kids, their production was reduced by more than half, so if the kids had still been here, and I was separating overnight, I would have been getting more milk in one milking than I get now in two milkings. It's more work for me, and we get less milk.

Lee Pilkovsky said:

How much different is milking a goat versus milking a cow? I have experience milking cows but not goats. And what is the best way to maximize the amount of milk to keep for my own use? Can I feed just milk replacer to the kids?

I'm not sure I understand your question. Maybe there is something you misunderstood about what I wrote. If you dam raise, you don't have to milk at all. The kids will make the mom produce milk, and you can separate them and milk her whenever you have time. If you bottle raise, you MUST milk at least twice a day or the doe's production would be terrible and she'd probably dry up and possibly get mastitis. Commercial dairies milk three times a day because it's all about supply and demand.

Kelsie Aman said:

I would really like to milk but can not commit to twice a day...I realize I would get less milk but is it possible to just milk in the morning without it being harmful or causing the doe to dry up?

I was looking at a goat that is currently got milk but her kids have already been sold....As much as I want to milk, twice a day is just not an option for me currently....But from what you wrote and another post I found, I guess once a day milking with no kids around is just not an option or fair to the animal...A milking goat will just have to wait.

Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:

I'm not sure I understand your question. Maybe there is something you misunderstood about what I wrote. If you dam raise, you don't have to milk at all. The kids will make the mom produce milk, and you can separate them and milk her whenever you have time. If you bottle raise, you MUST milk at least twice a day or the doe's production would be terrible and she'd probably dry up and possibly get mastitis. Commercial dairies milk three times a day because it's all about supply and demand.

Kelsie Aman said:

I would really like to milk but can not commit to twice a day...I realize I would get less milk but is it possible to just milk in the morning without it being harmful or causing the doe to dry up?

It depends on what stage of lactation the doe is in and how old she is. At some point during every goat's lactation we go to once a day milking -- usually when they're only producing 1 to 2 cups per milking, we cut back to once a day. Depending upon the doe, her production will decrease at various levels. Some will drop by half, so if you were getting a cup of milk twice a day, now you'll be getting a cup once a day. Once a doe is producing a cup or less per day, you can stop milking completely, and she'll dry up without any problem. It's tough to find a first freshener that will milk for more than about six months, but senior does should milk for ten months, and some will even milk much longer than that.

Kelsie Aman said:

I was looking at a goat that is currently got milk but her kids have already been sold....As much as I want to milk, twice a day is just not an option for me currently....But from what you wrote and another post I found, I guess once a day milking with no kids around is just not an option or fair to the animal...A milking goat will just have to wait.

I have an easy milking schedule right now. I am happy to milk once a day after the initial flush of milk as we don't need that much milk. Right now I milk one doe in the morning and leave her doeling on all day. Come spring it'll be interesting I have four due...March, April and May.  

Thank you Deborah for posting.  Since we have our first babies due in February, I love the information given on when to start milking verses how many babies she will have.  2 of my does we bottle fed and I always played with their bellies.  They are use to the touch and don't fight it.  My doe that's due in February and is a first freshener we have been working on.  She will let my 5 year old daughter touch her tummy all day long.  The kids love to feel the babies moving around.  But me, we are working on it.  We are close though. As I pet her I just slowly work my hand to her tummy.  She is starting to get more comfortable with the idea.  Thanks again for everything :0)

I saw a site on the net once where they had their little kids milk some cause their hands were the perfect size!  Maybe your 5 year old is your milker. ^^

thanks for this discussion.I have been learning all about this situation and believe all that Deborah states is very valid.I am like many others and only have 2 milking does and so was chomping at the bit to start getting" all the milk myself" :).I am now seeing that if I decide I would like even more milk that maybe I should have a third doe to milk.

  I was separating overnight but the kids started getting too big for my dog crate situation.That was when I panicked and thought I needed to get kids weaned.After various attempts at pens off here and there I ended up having to bring the kids back home and built a hasty pen across the yard from my main pen.My question is:What sorts of set ups do people use for separating overnight once the kids start getting bigger?My kid pen is probably 60' away from my main pen.Would I have been able to separate kids in that for the overnight?I can see the benefits of having the pen removed a little as there will be no worry about kids nursing through the fence at night.

  I definitely think I will fallow the strategy next time around.

It sounds like your kid pen would work for separating them overnight. We put them in separate pens or stalls. If they are in the kidding barn, they can see each other, but if they are in the other barn (a former horse barn), they can't. They don't necessarily make less noise if they can see each other, but they do quiet down as they get accustomed to the routine. It may or may not be a problem if they share a fenceline. We've only had one doe that would stand there and let her kids nurse through the fence, and she only did it when it was getting close to 12 hours. Dancy was a special doe though -- one evening she got out and came to the back door of the house and was bleating at me until I walked out with the milk bucket, and then she walked by my side to the barn and jumped on the milkstand. Still, if we are in the middle of a milk test, I make sure there are two or three fences between the mamas and their kids!

Reply to Discussion

RSS


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!)

© 2020   Created by Deborah Niemann-Boehle.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service