I currently have two wethers, but the family is seriously considering getting at least one doe and trying our hand at milking. I love the ND's, but I also know there are a lot of other dairy breeds out there. I would love it if someone would give me some pro's and con's in regards to the ND's as milkers, and some other general information as well. I would also love if someone could compare ND's to some other dairy breeds as well. Thanks a bunch!!
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If you decide to buy NDs for milking, be sure to buy from someone who milks their goats. One of my pet peeves is someone selling goats as "good milkers" when they don't milk their goats. If they don't milk, they have NO idea whether their goats have the mammary system, production, or personality to be a good milker.
I will add that before you purchase a doe, be certain she is a realistic milker, meaning reasonably easy. Having never milked a goat before and knowing what to look for, I had no idea how difficult it would be to milk my Capri or how difficult it had been until her daughter freshened this spring. Her daughter is a delight to milk! Her teats are much larger and carry forward while Capri's are smaller and straight down (parallel to her legs). Summer is so much easier to milk but I love them both to bits! (And both give superior milk.)
As I always say -- listen to your goats! :) Your goats will let you know if they're getting what they need. As Rachel said, we don't really know all the circumstances in your particular herd. The protein level of grass hay can vary from being as low as straw to as high as alfalfa, depending upon the species of grass, when it was cut, how old it is, and so on. If you have goats from high-producing lines and they don't produce well or they lose an unacceptable amount of weight, then they need more protein.
Of course, there may be extenuating circumstances that we don't know about, but yes. This situation works for my herd, and others here also. :)
Jabe Thomas said:
If you have a small herd, you can always make a habit of giving does grain only when they're on the milk stand. And they only need grain the last week or so of pregnancy and when milking. You can mix in some alfalfa pellets with the doe's grain.
Sweetlix Meat Maker works well for milkers.
I don't feed my does alfalfa, because I am avoiding GMO feed, so I feed whole oats and whole barley mixed with black oil sunflower seed when my milking does are on the stanchion. All my other goats get hay and browse only. (with the same minerals you're feeding.) The way I get the special "extra" feed to the does that need it, is to feed it to them when they are on the stand being milked.
Thanks for the great info... while I have you I'd like your opinion on hay and other feed. I've had the wether's for a year (almost exactly) and I currently give them grass hay and loose mineral (Sweetlix 16:8 Meet Maker). I remember early on being very frustrated on all the different opinions regarding alfalfa vs. grass hay, grain vs. no grain, mineral, etc. It seems everyone had their own opinion and the only consistency was that there was none. Anyway, I settled on the grass hay and Sweetlix and my boys seem to be doing great. My question is, if I get a doe to milk, what's the best way to feed the "herd?" The doe will need the richness of the alfalfa and grain, but that's what causes the UC problems in wethers, correct? Is there a way to just feed the goats without all the worry? Thanks for the help!
Hi, Jabe! Welcome to our little group!! I highly recommend you read up on the pros of Nigerians here on this site (a read through of the home dairy section would be helpful) and to read more about the breed on sites like http://www.ndga.org/ to help you make your choice. The short answer to your question is YES. Nigerians are excellent milkers. Their milk tastes delicious, and they have twice as much butterfat content in their milk as other dairy goats do. Basically, that translates to this: the milk is sweet and creamy, and for every pound of milk you use to make cheese, you would end up with twice as MUCH cheese as you would using a pound of milk from another breed.