Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

My almost 6year old doe kidded two weeks ago.  She wasn't well after kidding, but now she's better.  She has a single, healthy kid.  I had her and kid in a stall by themselves (still with easy contact with the other goats) while she wasn't well.  I milked her 3-4 times a day (not milked out, but milked some... about 1/4-1/2 cup each time) to make sure that both sides of the udder were used and to make sure that supply was happening.  I've had that doe for one year now.  She came to me in milk and was used to being machine milked.  It was a very difficult experience for the two of us to get into milking when she arrived, but we got quite good at it until, last Fall, out of the blue, she decided that she didn't want to come on the milk stand.  Complete refusal.  She wasn't producing much at the time and was used to being dried up at that time of year.  So we stopped milking.  Over the winter, I took the opportunity to build a new milk stand.  I got my does to come up on it and get fed.  This particular doe came up quite a few times and seemed fine with it.  I would just pet her there and didn't close the stanchion.  Just wanted her to be comfortable.  Since yesterday, I have reintegrated her and her kid with the other two does.  It went well after a few head butting moments with the other senior doe.  I tried to start a milking routine with her last night and she won't even put her front feet on the stand. I spent 50 patient minutes trying to entice her with the browse she loves so much. No luck.  When I got to milk her in the "private stall", I was doing it on the floor and I had to keep putting her kid in front of her so she would let down her milk.  As soon as the kid was gone, the milk stopped.  As soon as I put the kid back by her, the milk came flowing.  I'm really at a loss.  Any suggestions??  Thanks.

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Hi there Jocelyne- I've never bred a goat that delivered a single, so I do not have experience to share with early milking of a newly freshened doe. Since my girls have always given me multiples, I start milk sharing at 2 months of age and by then, they are just fine with me taking what I want.

Below is a link to an article that Deborah wrote that addresses this very problem, why you are seeing it, and tips on how to correct it. Please give it a read, and let us know if you start to see improvement. It sounds like you have a feisty one on your hands, so this may take several days of gradually working through the motions, before you get to a good milk routine! https://thriftyhomesteader.com/learning-to-milk-goa/

Thanks Tammy.  Over the last few months, I have read and re-read Deborah's excellent article.  Where I'm really stumped, is how to get the goat on the stand when she refuses even if she knows that there's food she likes and even if she has been there a number of times over the first couple of months of her pregnancy without making a fuss and without incidents.  Then there is the milk withholding.  She is REALLY doing that.  When I was getting to milk her on the floor when she was in the "private recuperation" stall, I couldn't believe how instant that reaction is... kid close by... milk flows out; kid away, milk shuts down.  I'm really stumped.  I know I can milk and that she can let me do it, but not now.  She's never been easy, but this takes the cake : (  

I'm going to see if Deborah has any other wisdom to add to try to get her up on the stand. I have Nigerians, so it is easy to just pick them up and put them up there when they are first learning, if they wont go up on their own. You may end up needing to come up with a way to keep the baby in front of her while you are milking until this works itself out. Stay tuned- let me see what else I can get for you =)

In the mean-time, the only other thing that I can think of, is perhaps too many things changed for her quickly. Being taken out of her private quarters, re-introduced to herd mates with her new kid, and going up onto the milk stand within about a day or so. They are such creatures of comfort with routine and changes seem to throw them out of sorts. Perhaps giving her a few day to acclimate to not having her 'private sweet' would make some improvement????

Thanks Tammy.  I have ND as well.  This doe weighs about half my weight.  I don't know that struggling with her physically is going to get us out of that situation.  You may have a point re. changes.  

Yesterday was the first day reintegrated and being in too large an area for me to kind of corner her with kid as a decoy and milk her. By the way, she is the herd queen, kind of bitchy and standoffish, but she comes for her pets when she chooses. The other senior doe is the protector. So last night was the first try at the stand with her favourite browse.  No go. I spent half the night awake, trying to problem solve.  This morning, a situation arose that, of course, I hadn't predicted.  My does (and males in another house) get buckled up at their own feeding station twice a day (once for the boys). They all go there willingly and know where to go.  I thought that she would as well, but she didn't.  Her feeding station is the closest to the gate that opens up onto the milk stand.  She was, however, interested in what the other two were going to have for breakfast, so she was ready to "share" their meal.  There is a solid door between that goat room and the open barn area where she was standing at the door sill.  I reacted by telling her that, is she couldn't do like the others, then she wasn't going to steal their food and I shut the door while the other two had breakfast.  Of course, I'm terribly worried that she's not getting the food she needs, although she has access 24/7 to grass and alfalfa hay.  So... I'm thinking... what's the worst case scenario... that she only feeds the baby, that one side of the udder dries up, and that I get no milk from her.(?) And she has the best milk! I'm hoping that, by some miracle, tonight she will decide to come on the stand to get some food other than hay and that we can gently get into milking.  Thanks for your help.

How is your doe doing? It's not that unusual for some of them to hold back their milk if they are raising kids. They re not doing it on purpose. A European study showed that does release oxytocin when their kids nurse, and that is responsible for the milk ejection reflex. They don't release oxytocin when we milk them, which is why it feels like they are holding back sometimes. 

A couple of years ago I worked with the Livestock Conservancy to do milk component research on a breed of rare cattle, and I almost fainted when I got the first results. Cows had butterfats of less than 1%! I thought for sure that something was wrong. Calves could not survive on such low fat milk. I emailed several people at the lab, and spent hours talking to the owners of the cows. And we finally came to the conclusion that the cows who were nursing calves were holding back their butterfat for the calves! Cows without nursing calves had butterfats of 4-5%! 

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