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: 3091

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I personally don't use tip dip at all, never have, and have not had a problem with mastitis. My personal opinion is that the teat dip is far more important if you are using a milking machine and/or bottle-raising. You use the tip dip to kill any bacteria that gets into the teat when the doe jumps off the milk stand before the end of the teat closes, which takes a few minutes (I think they say something like 15 or 20 minutes after milking). If you are dam raising, the kids are constantly nursing, so the bacteria can't start multiplying and making their way up into the udder like they can when you're going 12 hours between milkings. If you are using a milking machine you should also use a teat dip before milking because milk can back up in the inflation and wind up bathing a goat's teat in the milk, and it has all of the bacteria from every goat you've already milked. This is how mastitits can fly through a herd. It is not nearly as big a deal when you're hand milking and/or dam raising.

Patty Meyer said:

When you begin separating mom and babies at night to milk in the AM, what do you do about teat dipping, since the babies will be going back in with mom soon after her being milked?

Dear Deborah,

Yeah, you are probably right.  I think she uses the smaller tip. (there were no scurs growing when I got them at 8 weeks - one other breeder could see scurs growing on one side and she had to disbud for me again and now she has perfect disbudded horns, no scurs, just the whitish center bump).

I order the Rhinehart X30 Dehorner with the 1/4" ID tip for mini breeds.

Well, Monday is the day for disbudding.

Hopefully all goes well.  So thankful for a nice breeder to show me how to disbud.

Today, there are definite white bumps (I guess the horns have poked through). Will try and get a pic.

Thanks,

Lisa


Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:

I can't imagine how disbudding early could "cause" scurs. A correlation does not mean cause and effect. If there are scurs, it simply means that the person doing the disbudding missed a part of the horn bud -- period. It really doesn't matter when you do it. However, if you do it later, the horn bud is bigger, and it is easier to miss a part of it. So the only reason we talk about doing it early is because it is easier to get the whole horn bud because it is smaller. I also talk about NOT using the pygmy tip because it's just too small to get the whole horn bud. I've even seen does with scurs when people use the pygmy tip. I'm not saying it's impossible with the pygmy tip -- but you'd have to keep burning new circles, which would be really traumatic for the kid. It's much better to use the larger tip so you're more likely to get the whole horn bud at once.

Lisa Martin said:

I've also heard that disbudding them too early produces scurs also. I know one breeder disbuds very early and those goats do have scurs.

Thanks, Deborah.  That's what I was hoping you'd say. :) I love how you've found that "middle of the road" spot between ill keeping, and over-mannaging.   Or maybe it's not the "middle of the road", but a whole different road altogether.  I'm always on a quest to find and maintain that spot here.    I appreciate your willingness to share you experience with us all.

Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:

I personally don't use tip dip at all, never have, and have not had a problem with mastitis. My personal opinion is that the teat dip is far more important if you are using a milking machine and/or bottle-raising. You use the tip dip to kill any bacteria that gets into the teat when the doe jumps off the milk stand before the end of the teat closes, which takes a few minutes (I think they say something like 15 or 20 minutes after milking). If you are dam raising, the kids are constantly nursing, so the bacteria can't start multiplying and making their way up into the udder like they can when you're going 12 hours between milkings. If you are using a milking machine you should also use a teat dip before milking because milk can back up in the inflation and wind up bathing a goat's teat in the milk, and it has all of the bacteria from every goat you've already milked. This is how mastitits can fly through a herd. It is not nearly as big a deal when you're hand milking and/or dam raising.

Patty Meyer said:

When you begin separating mom and babies at night to milk in the AM, what do you do about teat dipping, since the babies will be going back in with mom soon after her being milked?

When you say you got the "mini" tip, you mean the pygmy tip? It's 1/4 inch, which isn't big enough to reliably disbud without having scurs.

Lisa Martin said:

Dear Deborah,

Yeah, you are probably right.  I think she uses the smaller tip. (there were no scurs growing when I got them at 8 weeks - one other breeder could see scurs growing on one side and she had to disbud for me again and now she has perfect disbudded horns, no scurs, just the whitish center bump).

I order the Rhinehart X30 Dehorner with the 1/4" ID tip for mini breeds.

I'm resurrecting this milking discussion.

Deborah, I've been trying to balance what's best for our goats with obtaining the milk volume required to run our pasteurizer. I was thinking that we'd need to pull the kids permanently, milk the does twice a day, pasteurize it all, and then bottle feed pasteurized milk to the kids, using any milk that is leftover to make cheese. We don't have a minimum requirement for cheese-making, only pasteurizing.

Irrelevant of the number of goats, do you think we could do as well (or almost as well) volume-wise if we left the kids on the does during the day and only kept the morning milk for cheese-making? Would keeping kids on the doe really make that much of a difference in her production? I'd prefer to keep the kids on their dams as long as possible, but also have to keep my business going. I'd start the overnight separations at an appropriate age, not at birth. 

I'm just struggling with the idea that I could get almost as much milk once a day if the kids are on their dams as I would if I pulled them and milked twice a day. 

I think it varies from goat to goat as far as how well they do when dam raising versus being milked 2 times a day with bottle feeding kids. It also depends upon how many kids they have. I have two mature milkers this year with singles, so we're milking them twice a day and leaving the kids on them and still getting a good amount of milk. I do know with my first fresheners, it seems to be very hard to keep them producing a decent amount when they don't have kids on them, although people do it. The example I gave the other day when I said I was getting more in one milking a day when the kids were on the dam was with a couple of first fresheners. With your pasteurizer situation, you might be better off bottle feeding the kids. And it'll probably depend on how many kids the does have too. Most commercial dairies bottle raise kids.

Thank you ever so much for this discussion.  It is very timely for me as I will soon be attempting to milk for the first time.  That is goats; I have milked cows in a past life.

Thank you so much Deborah. I love the way you wrote this. You have a great way of making things seem very simple and clearly understood. Although this is not my first rodeo, as they say, I have never done this on as large of a scale as now and you REALLY helped me decide how to handle several different variables that I will have to deal with this time around. It really makes me hope all my girls have one baby each that are keepers. Wouldn't that be great, cause then once the others left I could still have one to help me regulate, so to speak, each does milk while we all get use to this. The most I have ever had at once was 6 total with two in milk. Now I will have 14 total of which 12 are does, so I am expecting lots of hard work and lots of fun. 

That is a lot of work Margaret! Best of luck!

I use this schedule myself, I'm more concerned early on that the mother and babies are doing well. So, every situation is a bit different.

I also get the doelings used to my handling the udder area as soon as they start crawling on me. I'm hoping it will make the milking experience easier when the time comes. Right now, they think it's a great treat like a belly rub, we'll see how they feel when it's first milking time. I'm very patient and gentle, so have not had trouble with my milking. Animals can sense anxiety and frustration.

Right on Kimberly, you are using that animal psychology I try to focus on and I believe you are right about handling them when they are little making a difference. My Queen Tilly is stiil a couple months from her birthday yet I can touch her anywhere and she becomes motionless. Put your hand near her teats, she spreads her little legs and just stands there like she is waiting for you to get on with the milking. I sure hope she really is going to be as awesome as she appears now. She is about the best animal of any kind I have ever had. If all animals were like her, everybody would love them and have a yard full at every house. She is just GREAT! Of course I am not prejudiced, just because she is mine. 

I think this is why Deborah's advice is so good, some people need to adjust methods. I learned this way at a young age with the famous horse trainer Yale Siminoff (before "horse whisperer"). Hubby calls me Dr. Doolittette, but I prefer Snow White. ;) I know what you mean, both of my doelings I've done this with do the same. They stand perfectly still enjoying  a rub. Prejudiced, noooo..never :)

Oh that is so funny. One of my husbands best friends has called me "Ellie Mae" (for you truly young folks, refer to "Beverly Hillbillies") for years. I DO NOT find it offensive either. I wish I had been raised in the hills with all those critters. Actually, I guess I have had most of that stuff. Except the monkey. Always wanted one when Iwas little. I think for the most part she liked animals better than MOST people. Sounds about right. Except instead of a blond I am dark brown, almost black headed. BTW My Hubby calls me "The Goat Lady".

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