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Dairy Goat Advice & A Few Things Learned

>14 April 2011
 
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As you may have read, we’ve had some trouble getting much milk from our new dairy goat. Instead of getting the 3/4 gallon the previous owners said we could expect, we’ve been getting something closer to 3/4 quart!

Being very new to milking, I wondered if I was doing something wrong. Was I pinching her too hard? Did she just not like me? Was she holding back ’cause everything is still new to her here? Was she sick?

Not sure what the problem was, I called the lady we bought the goats from for advice. She was really sweet and patient  as she listened to me explain what’s going on, and thankfully was more than happy to offer some good suggestions.

I shared with her that “Blondie” was getting onto the stand fine, but half way through the milking she had started kicking and dancing around, making it very difficult for me to finish milking (which is important to do to avoid an infection). The lady asked me how long it was taking for me to milk her. “Oh, about 10 minutes,”  I answered. “Ahh, that’s probably it,” she said. It usually takes her only 5 minutes per goat to milk. She figured that Blondie was most likely done being milked halfway through, and was losing her patience.

That made a lot of sense. I had been taking my time washing her teats, massaging her udders, and milking one side at a time.

The sweet lady also made a few other suggestions:

  • Don’t wear rings when I milk.
  • Make sure my finger nails aren’t too long.
  • Give her an unlimited supply of fresh hay throughout the day.
  • Offer her some alfalfa cubes, “She’ll be your best friend.”

That night I went to milk with a new found confidence.

I washed her up quickly. And instead of sitting on a stool beside the milking stand I sat on the milking stand with my left shoulder up against her, as was suggested by one of my readers here. This was actually more comfortable for me, as I wasn’t trying to lean across the stand to milk her.

This time I tried milking her with two hands. I’d gotten the flow of it after a week of milking, so doing both sides at once was really no trouble. I filled the bowl quickly, and was done before Blondie had finished eating her grains.

And guess what. No kicking! Yay!!

So, I think we’ve figured out the problem. We were also just able to find a local source of good hay for the goats yesterday, and are now supplying them with unlimited hay. Hopefully we’ll see an increase in her milk production.

I also learned something else about dairy goats while doing some reading online. After you’ve de-wormed a dairy goat you will have to wait about 2 weeks before drinking that milk, as some of the medicine will come through. I didn’t realize this, though it totally makes sense.

When we first got the goats the owners wormed them that night. We didn’t know anything about “milk withdrawal”, so we had been drinking that milk for the whole first week before I read about the safety issues. I quickly looked up the withdrawal period for the wormer that these people used, and everyone was saying that there was no withholding time recommended, and that it was safe. But then I read that the FDA has no recommended withdrawal time simply because this particular med hasn’t been tested.

So… I tell you this so that you know. Because I didn’t even think twice about it.

We haven’t been drinking the milk this whole past week, just to be on the safe side. I am, however, freezing it to make soap with. After this weekend it will be two weeks that we’ve had the goats, so we’ll be good to go then.

This morning I gave Jada her first lesson in Goat Milking 101! She was SO excited to be learning. And she did really good! At first she was hesitant, saying the teat was squishy and felt weird (which made me laugh), but then she got brave enough to try it. She’s so funny. I plan on bringing her with me at every milking and letting her get more practice. She was really proud of herself, and felt honored to have the privilege of the responsibility.

So, things are coming along here! Can’t wait to get even more milk to experiment with!

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15 Comments »

  • Mona @ Healthy Homesteading said:

    So glad to hear you figure things out. I am sure that must have been frustrating for you. Please do interview your daughter some day about the goat milking. I would love to hear her explain how squishy the teats are…lol.
    I think the temperaments of goats and how they are raised varies. I used to think I had to hurry through the milking before they finished but then when I learned the “shoulder trick” this didn’t seem to be something that was needed. From what I have seen from breeders around here is that the goats should be able to stand still even if they don’t have feed. Since it’s all new to you I would do what works but eventually they should learn how to stand still. One of my goats I can milk pretty much any time where ever she is. The LaMancha will get impatient if I take the milk bucket away and then try and put it back. She thinks she’s done if I take the bucket away. But if I just put my shoulder into her again she calms back down again.
    Also, I worm my goats with a herbal wormer offered by Hoeggers. There is no withdrawal time needed. Here is a link >

    I am so glad things are coming together. By this time next year you will be a pro :)

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Thanks Mona :) I’ll definitely have to check into the herbal wormer. How long have you been using it? It seems to work okay? I don’t like worrying about not drinking the milk like this. At least I can use it for soap, but I’ve got a ton of frozen milk now!! I appreciate your encouragement ;)

  • Tami said:

    I was just going to leave a comment about the herbal wormer at Hoeger’s. Funny! While I don’t have goats at present (we’ve been moving around the country for my husbands job) I did have a couple nubians. The stuff worked great. I used it for my sheep and dogs too. Glad your getting the hang of things.

  • Laura-Lisa said:

    We use Hoeggers also and diatomacteous earth mixed with the grain…it helps cut down on flies too…we also use the diatomaceous earth for the chicken to cut down on mites…you can also add vitamins to your goats feed sometimes that helps increase the milk supply just like us…
    this site has a huge wealth of knowledge when it comes to raising goats and I found it very helpful with so many questions we had when we first got our goats. http://fiascofarm.com/

  • Pam W. said:

    I’m glad your goats are working out and you’re better at the milking! There’ll be so many things to do with the milk. And that’s really great that you’re teaching Jada. Maybe that can become her daily job by the time the baby comes! We haven’t done goats yet–so far just chickens for both eggs and meat, and the annual pig for butchering. We’re currently saving eggs to put in an incubator since we haven’t been able to get a hen to go broody. But…I also just bought six adorable baby Bantam chicks yesterday hoping to get at least a couple of hens out of the bunch. They say Bantams go broody much more than regular breeds, which have pretty much had the broodiness characteristic bred out of them due to commercial farming techniques, etc. And I think one of the chicks might even be a Silkie, which I would love to have just as a unique pet if nothing else! :)

  • Chanda said:

    Kendra,
    I see everyone is on to Hoeggers for the herbal wormer. Thats what I was going to recommend as I love the no milk dumping part. That’s what I’m going to use and I’m also going to try it for the dogs. Dog supplies are so expensive and if its all natural I don’t see why I couldn’t. Has anyone recommend for you to use some sort of teat spray to sanitize the teat after milking. The man I bought my goats from said I should use it as it was very important to keep infections at bay. I am wondering if anyone else does this and if it is really that important. I can’t seem to find it anywhere and it has to be orderd. It is also $10 per can. I wonder what folks did in the olden days when such things wasn’t available. I have just been washing her with a little dulited iodine water for now.
    I am trying my hand at making soap today.Never made it with goats milk before. I bought a beautiful 3-D mold on Ebay and I am so itching to try it out. I have already learned to make 2 different cheeses and they are just awesome. Feta crumbles and Mozzarella.

    Looking forward to next weeks radio show, take care
    Chanda

  • Michelle said:

    ROTFLOL! I guess we are ALL fans of Hoegger’s herbal dewormer! That’s what I was going to suggest, too. :D I’ve only just started using it, but there was a scientific study done to compare their herbal dewormer to Valbazen, and theirs was better! That paired with the fact that I despise pharmaceuticals and think they do more harm than good in most cases makes me thrilled to use it.

    I’m so happy you are working the kinks out. You’ll feel like an old pro in no time! I’m gonna try sitting on the stand. I milk with both hands, but am still not a very fast milker compared to the experienced dairy goat owners I know. Maybe that will help.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Chanda,

    The people we got the goats from did have some sort of a sanitizing dip they used on the teats for after milking, but they get it from a friend (can’t find it in stores). She did recommend to me that I make the solution found on Fiascofarm.com, it’s made with a drop or so of blue Dawn dish detergent, bleach and water. I’ve just been dipping her in warm soapy water after milking… but I do need to get something better, probably. Good luck with the soap making!!! Let me know how it goes!

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Pam,

    Yeah, about Jada, Smiley the goat has very small teats… I’m thinking Jada will probably be the only one that can milk her! I’d love to have her milking by the time baby comes :)

  • Kimberly said:

    I need to check out de-wormers I see. I love this community!!!! BTW-I am using a vinegar/water wash on the teats-all three my Nubian has. THAT’S interesting to milk for sure.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Kimberly,

    So, did you read about a vinegar/water wash somewhere? ‘Cause that sounds a whole lot better to me than using bleach!

  • Theresa said:

    Just signed up here. Am curious how old your daughter is? We are in the process of getting goats. Have you heard of Fiasco Farms website? Molly, the owner of the site, has another site where she sells herbal remedies for goats and she has one for worms. . .
    Theresa

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Theresa,

    Glad to have you along! My daughter Jada is 7. Yes, Fiascofarms.com is one of my favorite sites to go to. Good stuff!!

  • Ann said:

    get the can of FIGHT BAC it replaces the teat dip. just a quick spray on the teat opening. been using it for 4 years, really like it.

  • Terrie said:

    :) We purchased two dairy goats last June and had quite the time adjusting to milking as well. It is definitely temperament and change of owner/change of style. I never withhold milk when deworming as I use a herbal dewormer as well as the others but I get mine from Fiasco’s herbalist partner found on Fiasco’s web site. I use the formula #1 (w/wormwood)every 6 weeks using in three consecutive days and use formula #2 1x a week in-between. I’ve been using formula #2 throughout their pregnancy as you cannot use wormwood when pregnant. As far as teat wash, I use essential oils. In a pint jar I put 1 cup distilled water with 2 drops of GSE (Grapeseed Extract)…this I use to keep washcloth disinfected as I keep it in it in-between milkings (change water weekly) and to clean the dirt off the goats teats. In another pint jar I put 1 cup distilled water, 2 drops of each of these essential oils: oregano, eucalyptus, tea tree and lavender (change every other week)…these are good antibacterials. Oregano (hot, always mix with a vegetable oil-I use 1 to 1 for hooves but 1 to 4 elsewhere) I purchased in a 4 oz jar as it is good for the flu/cold season, humanly speaking and good for the goats. I have 1 goat who has had foot root 3x. BTW, never put on the goats teat what you wouldn’t put on you. I buy my essential oils from a reputable company: http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/
    I need to get my blog going as have so much more I can add….working on it.
    Terrie

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