Posts Tagged ‘Dairy Goats’

Paring down the herd has been a process.

I pared down in three steps and wrote several blogs posts along the way.  The first post, Selling Goats – How I Changed My Business Mindset, was a collection of my farm and business thoughts geared towards keeping manageable numbers.   I wrote the second post, Pruning- It Isn’t So Easy, after I realized that selling the goats was more difficult than I had originally thought.

Very recently, not long after I published the third blog post, I realized that I needed to pare down the herd even more.  I am so elated to be able to say that no sadness rolled over me when I made the decision to sell.  I was determined.  I knew the end result that I wanted.   I just did it.

We are now down to our original goat herd.  Some of the older gals on our farm are in retirement.  We own a few boer goats that will be bred occasionally.  We have six dairy goats that will bred to keep the girls in milk for Annie’s Goat Hill milk-based products.

We are now purposely breeding for a warmer kidding season.  Gone are the days of kids born in sub-freezing temperatures.  Gone are the days of a barn full of kids.  We are breeding only for exact needs.

Just a few mornings ago, the day after the last sold goats left our farm, new kids were born.  Ask me if I smiled.  Babies (purposely) born in May.  It is warm.  The kids are healthy.   I am totally enjoying the newest dairy youngsters!

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Where you can Smell and Feel the Goodness!

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It had been years since I hand milked goats, but the last couple of weeks I have done so. 

We experienced string after string of thunderstorms.  During one of those runs I lost my milk machine. 

My milk machine is an antique.  It is bolted to the feed room floor, with compressor air forced through PVC pipe, down the other side of the room to the valves and hoses where the milk stands are located.  It is a dandy system. 

I have 14 dairy does in  milk.  All but 3 have kids nursing on them.  As soon as I lost the machine I dropped my hand milking down to the 3.  Problems with my wrists would not allow me to milk over a dozen goats twice a day!

Hand milking really is enjoyable, except when the milk room is nearing 100 degrees.  A fan helps.  I am wearing shorts again in the barn, forget the long jeans! The humidity and heat has been nearly unbearable.  One day as I milked I laid wet cool wash cloths on my legs.  It worked.

No complaints here. I chose dairy goats.  Milking, picking up loads of feed and hay, tending to kid goats, and a dedicated schedule are all a part of it.  I said to my husband one day, “I feel like I am neglecting my soap-making time.”  He reminded me that the jobs that I do are, “All a part of it.”  It definitely is, the wise-man was right.

I will continue to hand milk until the kids are weaned.  Then I will have more than 3 does to milk. 

The decision making starts.  Do I spend a royal fortune on a new machine, or have one built, buy another one used, or attempt to hand-milk them all? Milking is a peaceful type of thing.  I do enjoy it, but it affects me day and night.  I will figure it out. 

Life on the farm, full of surprises and challenges.  All loved.

Have a beautiful day!

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My very first You Tube video featuring the crazy Peachy (you’ve read about her before here as the goat scratching her belly on the rock) and Anona.


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What a difference a day can make in weather.  From 80 degrees, and rather humid, to 50 degrees and very windy.  It is a hold onto your hat type of day! The goats seem to love it though.

That is Snowball peering around the tree truck.  She is a snubian (saanan/nubian mix).  I have several full-grown snubians, and some up and coming future milkers as well.  When they are more than one generation away from the initial breeding they tend to go from solid white to a light tan/peach color, and their ears are longer as well.  This breed mix tends to grow fast and they are always gentle.  They are also great on the milkstand.

As I tried to take a few more pictures this morning, Sarah, our friendly boer goat showed up, and apparently the kids behind her were into some antics.  They are up and about, happily bouncing everywhere this morning.

Have a great weekend!

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Alpine Dairy Goat


As I filtered the ice cold milk this morning, and took my normal sip of the sweet liquid to ensure the collection meets the fresh taste test, I thought about the blessings of having the dairy does on the farm.

I am very appreciative of the single doe that I have in milk right now, Iris, an alpine dairy goat.

Iris has been in milk for nearly a year.  Her volume has decreased dramatically, but she lets down enough milk to allow a fresh supply for my goat milk lotion.  What I do not use for lotion, I freeze for soap. 

For those of you considering a dairy doe, you can keep your doe in milk indefinitely as long as she continues to produce  milk. 

My trick is to supplement the dairy does with a good concentrate (grain). 

Watch the doe to ensure she does not thin out.  You can increase the amount of concentrate to allow for the volume of milk, however, too much protein can thin a goat down.  Make sure the doe is allowed to graze (or browse), and in the winter, or during lean grazing months, a good alfalfa mix hay is necessary.

If you need to chemically worm a goat in milk, continue to milk her, but discard the milk for the recommended amount of time. 

If a dairy doe becomes sick, requiring antibiotics, I remove her from the milkstand for the season.  I have only had to do that once.  It seems the does in milk are generally full of health.

I will keep Iris in milk until her final 2 months of pregnancy.  She has not thinned out, she is still eager to milk, and Annie’s Goat Hill always needs fresh milk on hand!

I hope you enjoyed this article.  Let me know if you have any questions.

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Today I arrived home a bit late.  The animals knew I was late.  I do believe they have internal sun clocks. 

The deep glare of all of the hungry critters, accompanied by the time I spent away from the farm (enjoying a beautiful countryside ride), brought out sheer appreciation of my farm life this evening.

They  were squealing…

Goats and Critters 007

Henrietta and Friends - Growing!

Caleb, our great Pyrenees mix, said…

Mom...I have done a good job today...I am hungry too! See me do my dance?!

I have been a good guard dog...now I am dancing for my food!

The cats were lined up at the gate…ready for warm goat milk…

Goats and Critters 009

More cats in the feed room…

Goats and Critters 013

Protecting the feed sacks...looking for a "live" snack...

Come on…are you going to feed us or take pictures all evening????

Goats and Critters 006

Left Camille (nubian), Right Carmella (nubian), Frosted ears in front (nubian/boer) Ms. Red

And the beautiful nubian that is finally beginning to grow…

Goats and Critters 002

Amelie - Whom greets me with kisses on the chin and a nubian hum every day.

And those that seem to be expanding way too much…a boer doe that looks ready to pop…could not possibly have been bred in June!

Goats and Critters 011

Valentine - Going to need her own personal electric scooter soon!

What a troop they are! I love them all. 

Have a wonderful Friday!

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Iris 9-2-07

One of the questions that I receive frequently is, “How do I dry off a dairy doe?”

My best advice is to stop milking her.  If the doe was on grain while she was being milked, either cut the grain out of her diet, or cut the amount down considerably. 

A doe will continue to produce some milk as long as you milk her out.  The method of gradually cutting back on the milking schedule to dry a doe off never works for me.

Best bet:  cold turkey, stop milking. 

I have only had one case of mastitis in my milking herd.  The doe never had mastitis again in subsequent years.  For that particular doe, when I took her out of milk each year, I infused her teats with Tomorrow (a long-acting antibacterial product).  I infused and did not milk again until she freshened the following season.

Always watch for signs of mastitis:  doe is off feed, doe is standing away from the crowd, udder is hard/hot/swollen.  Keep in mind, however, the udder will swell for 3 or 4 days after you stop milking.  It takes a few days for the hormones to kick in and say, “No more milk!”  The body then begins to resorb the milk from the udder.

With a very thin doe, I do continue feeding some grain after I dry her off.  In most cases, however, worming her (if needed), and offering her good quality hay will put the weight back on.   I do not feed grain again until late in pregnancy, the 2nd or 3rd month.  Increase gradually as the due date nears.  A good quality alfalfa mix hay is a sufficient supplement otherwise.

I hope you found this article helpful.  Please let me know if you have additional questions.

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Aleecia - Nubian Doe

Aleecia - Nubian Doe

Management of goats involves much more than milking, feeding, worming and medication. 
Responsibility in maintaining the “numbers” is essential.  Meaning, focus on the goats that you can easily manage, and part with anything above that number.
If you are considering raising goats, keep your costs in mind.  Before you begin breeding your goats, or even before you purchase additional goats (or first goats), know what the feed costs are going to be.  Know what the fencing costs are going to be.  Shelter is another factor that must be considered.   Above all, stock the medicine cabinet before you purchase goats.  Do not assume they will not get sick, they will, and they do. 
When you begin breeding your goats, remember that a doe generally produces 2 or 3 kids per season. A goat herd multiplies quickly! That is why I part with goats once or twice a year. 
My farm rules are (because I cannot keep a lot of pets):  if you produce nice kids (even if it is only one nice kid per season), you raise your kids well, you are easily housed (you do not jump or destroy fences excessively), and if you are maintained without microscopic care (an animal that thrives on feed, browse, and an occasional worming and medication)…you are a keeper, you produce well for my farm.  And, very importantly, both the dairy and meat goats (boers) must be able to produce milk.  I have had to part with a few beautiful animals that showed a record of little or no milk.
You might say, “That sounds rather tough.”  Yes, it is.  But I have to run a herd with tight measurement.  If I didn’t, I would not be able to keep goats at all.
Now I need to prepare for the 2nd goat sale within the week.  Busy day ahead…and tomorrow I will smile at the remaining herd and say, “Get yourself ready for new milk and kids!”

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