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!

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I opted to get a bonded pair of adult does that had both kidded and had been milked before.  This took a lot of variables out of the equation for me.  

I've kept livestock for most of my life, had goats growing up, but hadn't had them for some time and my parents didn't do much dairy with the goats we had.  They were more brush eaters and were low maintenance.  Getting into dairy goats, and URBAN goats is a whole different ball-game than keeping a few pet goats in the country... so when I heard of the movement to get goats legal in Seattle, I got on board and helped Jennie Grant & the Goat Justice League legalize the keeping of miniature dairy goats in anticipation of eventually getting goats in the future, went to city council meetings, signed petitions, etc.  I waited a long time, researched heavily for about 6 years reading all the goat books I could and hanging out on forums like this one, before I finally took the plunge this last winter and got the two does I have now.  Even with all the background research, I have to continually research questions/issues that come up, it's an ongoing challenge and that's probably why I like it so much.  It's great to be rewarded with fresh milk in the mornings now, and healthy kids this year, but keep in mind that it's no easy task to get that milk.

Do you have any other urban livestock?  Do you keep chickens?  Rabbits?  If this is your first foray into any urban farming, I might suggest that you start with a few hens or other less demanding urban livestock before goats, just to gain some experience keeping a critter of a barnyard nature.  You might also consider your neighbors and discuss with them before moving into serious urban farming.  And let me know when you'd like to come by!

That sounds like a good idea.

I've already emailed Jennie and thanked her for her hard work- and thank you too for paving the way!

You read my mind! We've already set up a chicken coop and were going to look at some chicks this weekend. Right now we only have a dog, so no "farm" animals yet.

I am realizing what a wonderful and important commitment goats are, I want to be absolutely sure I am ready for it. 

Thanks again, I'll email you soon!

Michelle, another possibility to keep in mind for your trips away from home is that the does need to be dried off for a couple of months before they kid again. You could try to plan kiddings so that the doe(s) would be dried off for the time you want to go away. 

Great idea, Marin!!



Marin Waddell said:

Michelle, another possibility to keep in mind for your trips away from home is that the does need to be dried off for a couple of months before they kid again. You could try to plan kiddings so that the doe(s) would be dried off for the time you want to go away. 

I'm no expert, but I know a good bit and have owned milk goats before as well as starting this new herd I have now,so I can help you some. First, I commend you for not just diving in to this without seeking answers so along that note you are not as ignorant as you may think. The first thing you need to consider is the wanting ONE, you do realize they are herd animals which means they don't do well individually. Now, I have to be honest and tell you that they don't all have to be with another goat to be happy. Occasionally they are happy with other animals in various situations. You did not mention if you had any others.  But that gets complicated. It would be best for not only your goat but also you if you could have two. With out getting to involved in the reasons why, I will tell you what I would do if I were you knowing what I know. I would find a reputable breeder near by (I am pretty sure you have them there) and talk with them about getting a calm well tamed experienced milk doe who is bred. Then you will have milk sooner, and you can get to know each other while waiting for the kids. You can soon be raising a kid as you wanted but also have the advantages of an experienced milker and if you have a doeling you could keep it to herd up with mom as a second milker or even weather a buck as mom'  herdmate if you wanted. I would go with Nigerians for sure! Good luck! Margaret

I was thinking the same thing about buying a bred doe as the best way to get milk, and as Margaret mentioned, it's an excellent way to grow your herd for less, be able to enjoy kids and not have to wait for milk!! All pretty much in one package!

Hi Deborah,

Great to know! We love the Puyallup fair- we'll definitely find you there! Thank you!

Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:

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 Margaret,

Thank you for the advice! I really appreciate it!

Margaret Langley said:

I'm no expert, but I know a good bit and have owned milk goats before as well as starting this new herd I have now,so I can help you some. First, I commend you for not just diving in to this without seeking answers so along that note you are not as ignorant as you may think. The first thing you need to consider is the wanting ONE, you do realize they are herd animals which means they don't do well individually. Now, I have to be honest and tell you that they don't all have to be with another goat to be happy. Occasionally they are happy with other animals in various situations. You did not mention if you had any others.  But that gets complicated. It would be best for not only your goat but also you if you could have two. With out getting to involved in the reasons why, I will tell you what I would do if I were you knowing what I know. I would find a reputable breeder near by (I am pretty sure you have them there) and talk with them about getting a calm well tamed experienced milk doe who is bred. Then you will have milk sooner, and you can get to know each other while waiting for the kids. You can soon be raising a kid as you wanted but also have the advantages of an experienced milker and if you have a doeling you could keep it to herd up with mom as a second milker or even weather a buck as mom'  herdmate if you wanted. I would go with Nigerians for sure! Good luck! Margaret

Hi Rachel,

Thanks to your advice and that of everyone else,  think that's the route I'm opting for. Thanks again!

Rachel Whetzel said:

I was thinking the same thing about buying a bred doe as the best way to get milk, and as Margaret mentioned, it's an excellent way to grow your herd for less, be able to enjoy kids and not have to wait for milk!! All pretty much in one package!

If you do that, be sure the breeder knows what you're doing and will be willing to take the doe back if she screams bloody murder non-stop, which your neighbors would probably not appreciate. Some goats would be very unhappy being moved to a new place without another goat. After all, she doesn't know that she will have a baby for company soon. I personally am hesitant to sell a doe within two months of kidding because of stress. It might be better to buy a doe with a kid.

That's a good point... maybe if you find a doe that's bred, you can talk to the breeder about keeping her until she kids. :)

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