Posts Tagged ‘Dairy’

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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Cammille - Nubian Dairy Goat

Cammille - Nubian Dairy Goat

This is Cammille, one of my nubian dairy goats.  Her milk plays a big part in the goat milk soap that is made on my farm.   

Cammille is a smart doe.  As with most of my dairy goats, Cammille arrives at the milk room door twice a day, following the same pattern.  This season the order is Iris, Bonnie, Cammille, and Carmella.   Goats love patterns, in fact, some become rather upset when a normal routine is not followed.  They also know their own names.  They have individual personalities.  Cammille, for example, will not allow the milk inflations to be placed on her teats without first having access to the grain in her dish.  With Cammille, everything has to be pre-planned, in perfect order, before she arrives on the stand.  If not, a person had better hurry! She has a gentle nature, she does not kick, she more or less shifts from hoof to hoof, dancing, and the impatience quickens when food is not at her lips!

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Athena - Snubian Dairy Goat

Athena is a young dairy doe.  She has not “freshened,” meaning, she has not given birth and gone “into milk” yet.  Athena is a 2nd generation snubian (cross between a saanan and a nubian).  I love snubian dairy goats.  They produce a nice volume of milk, and they retain the wonderful rich fat-laden nubian qualities in the milk they produce. 

Snubians are generally very laid back goats, easy to lead and train to the milk stand.  Athena does not fall short of those abilities.  Goats love to nibble with their lips (no teeth involved).  Athena has a habit of nibbling with her teeth, and it certainly can hurt! I am trying to break her of that wonderful practice! She loves to follow behind, and ouch, nibble!!!

Have you ever seen a goat bury their head in a huge pile of hay to find just the one morsel they were searching for? They cannot see through the hay, but they can smell, and amazingly their lips can feel better than most any other animal! Try to hold a young bottle-fed goat kid.  Try it without a bottle in your hand.  What you will get are nibbles.  Little nibbles to your neck, chin, earlobes, and they love to target the nose!

Goats…amazing animals.

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Similar to a grandmother who pulls the wallet full of photos out of her purse.  Here we go…girls on the hill photo day. 

Actually, today was paperwork day.   After I wrapped up things at the desk I decided I needed some new photos of the girls, along with some fresh air.  I was going to sit on the rock and spend some time with the crew, but they would not behave.  Imagine that! I’ll go back without the camera on a nice day soon.  We just may take a nap in the shade together. 

The photo above is Bonnie.  She is my oldest dairy doe.  A nice (but stubborn) alpine.  We have battled the barber pole worm during this humid and hot season.  Many of my girls have thinned out.  Some, like Bonnie and Iris, are holding on very well.  I will be glad for a bit of frost (but not glad for winter) to alleviate some of the de-worming. 

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Bonnie facing forward, Iris facing away.  These two alpines are my main milkers this season. 

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Akira is one of Bonnie’s offspring, a nubian/alpine cross.  She is growing large like her mother.  You can walk to the lot and call her name, Akira “answers” even if she is not within sight. 

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Carmella was my first dairy goat.  She has a unmistakable voice.  First of all, it carries, secondly, she makes a sound similar to “Whoooo!!!” Carmella is a tad bit expressive, especially when/if she gets spooked or upset.  I am totally in love with her.

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Aubree will be a part of the milkers in the future.  How about those long frosted nubian ears?

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Charolette 9-2-07Thought I would throw in some dairy goat statistics this evening.

Do you know which state had the largest number of reported dairy goats (at last count)? My first guess would have been California.  I was wrong.  Many years ago it was Ohio.  The correct answer is Wisconsin, at 40,000 head of dairy goats.  California follows with 37,000 head.  Iowa and Texas followed.  

Now, when you look at dairy goat operations, the numbers jumble just a bit.  Texas reined in 2007  with a reported 2,100 dairy goat operations.  Followed by California, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York and Washington state.

With all of these dairy goat operations, with their capabilities of producing over 2,000 pounds of milk a year, the United States imports 50% of the dairy goat cheese consumed, most of it coming from France. Crazy man? I think so!

I love to make the goat cheese! But when I began researching someone I could co-op with in Ohio, or even from a surrounding state, I ran into a lot of opposition both money-wise and a lack of interest.  Ohio is not a good place to own a commercial dairy goat operation.  So, that is when I turned to goat milk soap.  I believe in turning my love of the goats into something sustainable. 

I drink my own goat milk raw, 2 cups a day.  I am a healthy person, so far, so good.  I believe goat milk is one the healthiest foods on the face of this planet (good for cholesterol, diabetes, allergies, the immune system, and more).  I cannot sell my milk, nor can I give it away.  Red tape, and I wish to not get myself in trouble.

I hope my future finds me at 80 years old, in a granny dress, milking a dairy goat, sassy and fit! I need to get the fit part right, first! That is my project this week, fitting up!!!

I will soon write an article on goat milk soap, how I still need to educate the public on its benefits, and even that it does exist!

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Good afternoon!

Snubians are a goat breed that I have discussed before.

This particular doe is a 2nd generation snubian. Her dam is a snubian (sire pure bred nubian, dam pure bred saanan), her sire is an American nubian. I will register her as an American nubian. Love her peachy color, and I have high hopes she will also be good on the milkstand (as her dam is).

When purchasing a dairy doe always consider what your needs are beforehand. For example, I bought saanans because I wanted the milk volume, alpines as well. But I love the richness of the nubian milk.

Also, determine if you want a hefty dairy goat. My saanans are too thin for my liking. They put their all into their milk. And they come from lines of very thin goats while in milk. Ask a lot of questions before you buy your goat! Never be shy, and if you are not sure about an animal, do not purchase it.

You will also want to consider how long the doe remains in milk. One of the does that I purchased drops out of milk soon after the 3rd month mark which is not good for my needs. After I purchased the doe her prior owner told me that she had been the cause, she dried the doe off (took her out of milk) soon after her first few freshenings (kiddings/births). The milking pattern that a doe experiences early on generally follows through her entire career on the milk stand.

More dairy doe tidbits later…Happy Dairying!

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Do you ever look at something most every day and are oblivious to what you are seeing?
I love a tid-bit of history now and then…
I have held these milk cans close to my heart since a friend gave them to us 9 years ago. Her husband passed away and she cleaned out a lot of her possessions. Bob and I were setting up house at the time, buying a farm, and the friend said, “You will enjoy these.”
A few days ago (not 9 years ago) I noticed the words on the can. The picture below is from the top of the lids, the sides of the cans are stamped Polk Milk Company, Berne Ind. I love anything related to dairy, it does not necessarily have to be related to goat milk.
Then I learned a bit more…

Before the advent of stainless steel tankers, there were milk trains that ran through dairy areas. In many cases the farmers toted their milk to small train stops (some no bigger than a garden or tool shack), and from there the milk train would carry the milk to the larger cities. Some of the private milk trains carried cans, some of the company owned trains had “milk tank” cars.
Come to find out, the milk company listed on my cans was from Indianapolis, Indiana. Berne is located in northern Indiana, known for its cow dairy farms and cheese, inhabited in the early years by Swiss Mennonites. Interesting! I can see the cans being transported back and forth between Berne and Indianapolis, both on a farmer’s wagon, and on the old train.
Then I started reading about the milk trains. There are songs, movies, and all sorts of jokes floating around about milk trains. But, truly, there were actual milk trains that transported milk across the countryside. And many times people caught the milk trains if they needed a lift somewhere, some even rode the train to school.

Back on the farm…the farmers would strain and consolidate the milk into the cans, and then cool the milk in a spring house, later in history in a bulk tank. Then, either the farmer or a coop truck would come around and pick up the cans and take them to a creamery, or they went directly to the milk train.
So…perhaps I am the one slow on learning, but the next time I see one of these old milk cans…I will remember that they do hold a lot of history!

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It is amazing how much work I can now do while each doe is on the milk stand during the morning feeding.

The evening milkings go very fast. When milking a dairy animal it is imperative that you milk on a regular schedule, or else the good old hormones silently step forward and say, “Hey, time to dry that udder up!” As long as the animal is milked on a regular basis, it does not matter if the spacing is 8 hours, or 12 hours apart. I milk twice a day and generally it falls within a 1/2 hour of 9:30 AM and 4:30 PM. The girls milk out more in the AM, less in the PM. But is a regular, steady pattern.

Back to the topic…my milk/feed room is a mess. It demands a good spring cleaning. A few days ago I gathered the used syringes and began the antibacterial soaking of them, the hot water treatment, the (mild) bleach water treatment, and the final drying and putting the syringes back together. This ends up being a crazy job. 3CC’s, 6CC’s, different manufacturers. But in the end I have wonderful sterile baggies of like-new syringes, all sorted, and ready to use again.

Today, while the girls were on the milk stand I began reorganizing the shelves of one of my supply cabinets. The top shelf is mainly needles, syringes, banding and ear tagging supplies. No, I do not use this many needles. Years ago I thought I had to have a needle size for everything. I had 1/2″, 3/4″, 1″…and then diameter sizes 22, 20, 19. Oh boy. I pretty much stick with one size now, except for the tiny 1/2″ needles for the kids. It feels good to have 2 shelves back in shape. The 2nd shelf is common meds (non-refrigerated, non-biological type), notes, calendars, wormers. Tommorrow perhaps I will get into shelves 3 and 4. And I barely use any of this stuff anymore. I am more into the natural care of the animals. When they need treatment, they get it, but I think both animals and people are very much over-medicated in this day and age.

The rest of the room. If you could just see it, and you won’t, yikes!! I am starting at one end and spring cleaning until acceptable. Kidding season does this to me, I begin the season totally organized. Everything in order, you name it. After kidding season, when the kids are weaned from bottles, etc…, I began to feel the lessening of time constraints and I begin to work towards reorganizing. And believe me, it needs it!

Off topic…today was a zoo. We woke up to no water. The well pump went out during a late night thunderstorm. And boy did we have the storms last night! More than once I put my hands on my phone and looked at the weather warnings in the dark. We lost electricity for a couple of hours again. I am hoping for a calm night tonight. And tomorrow, no water troubles. I fed rather late tonight, and I am praying that the girl’s milking schedules do not suffer from the lateness!!

Wish me luck…I am heading back to the soap shop tomorrow. I hope to post pictures in a few days of a LOT more progress! Today was a tiny set back. We were plumbers, not soapers!

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As promised, I am continuing the posts on the dairy goats, and other breeds as well.

The questions are great!

What is my favorite breed? The nubian dairy goat. There is something special about a nubian kid. It could be the long ears that reach way below the muzzle. It could be the lankiness (dairy characteristics) of the kids. It could also be the sweetness of a nubian bottle kid. But it goes further than that. I love the nubian milk the best, especially for cheese and soap making.

Similar to cows, different goat dairy breeds produce a higher and lower butterfat. In my herd, the saanans produce the most milk, followed up by the alpines, but the nubians have the highest butterfat. Reach for some refrigerated goat milk after a nubian has been in milk for a week or so, and what you find is cream on top. That is some rich milk!

I covered two questions, I prefer the nubian personality and their milk for the soap. But wanted to add, the only downfall to a nubian is that they can be very vocal. I used to say, “But, my nubians are not noisy!” Oh, yes, some of them now are! Carmella, for example, lets out a hoot sort of noise when she is excited. Cammille tends to follow suit, and does not stop until she is satisfied. So does Bosco, the buck. Oh yes, when he sees me coming to feed the HOOT is sounded, loud and clear. The nut!

Do you own any toggs (toggenbergs)? No. They are a nice breed. My girlfriend up the road raises and shows them. She purchases some fine toggs from across the U.S. .

What breeds and genders do you raise? About half of the herd are boers. I keep the boer does right at 30, with 3 breeding age bucks that I switch from time to time. The other half of the herd are nubian, alpine, saanans, and crosses of all three. My favorite cross breed are the snubians (produced from a saanan dam and nubian sire). They have nice udders, volumes of milk, and are fairly easy to handle. They seem to come to the milk stand naturally, in all aspects.

How many does do you milk? I currently have 9 girls in milk. My number is normally at 11. The remainder of the herd is younger. They will be involved in the milking process some day, a rotational type of set up over the years. But not yet. I breed at a later age.

It is said that a dairy doe produces more milk over a lifetime if she is bred at a younger age, but I personally do not want to have to pull another kid. I would rather the doe gain some girth and mature before she is subjected to kidding. My entire focus now is keep the does that are good mothers (boers), keep the does that produce nice kids (without troubled presentations), and keep the does that produce good milk. It makes it difficult to decide who to part with, eventually.

Love the questions, keep ’em flowing…just like that good rich milk!

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I was not sure what to talk about today, but it all gelled!

I had a busy morning with the goats, trying to get out of the barn and clean up before the order of grain was delivered, also knowing that I needed to get to Country Home Crafts where some of my products are displayed to deliver some of the newest goat milk soaps. I got it all accomplished, but it left me feeling slightly depleted.

After lunch I worked on putting an order together and did an inventory of the essential oils and fragrances in the shop.

A few days ago, after receiving some really good questions (in my opinion), I talked about my farm schedule and answered a few questions in the blog post The Goat Dairy Farm Diary (To Answer Questions).

Today, Lynnanne asked a few more great questions…it gave me something to write about!

“I’m curious as to why the dairy goats are bottle fed and most of the meat goats are not??” It is fairly common practice to bottle raise vs. dam raise dairy animals (calves, lambs, and goats). This is done for several reasons, mainly to protect and ensure the health of the udder. In commercial dairy operations the kids are pulled and fed milk replacer, the goat milk is gathered and sold, or the milk is used to make cheese. In my situation, I choose to bottle feed the dairy kids to protect the udder, and to prevent disease in the kids (that can be passed through the dam’s milk, such as CAE). My hope is to someday have the commercial dairy (goat or cow) that I dream of. I pasteurize the goat milk that I collect, using some of the milk in the soap and goat milk lotion, and during deficit times I will mix part milk replacer with part goat milk when I bottle feed. As you know, many of us follow different practices with our herds. I am not opposed to leaving dairy kids on the dams. My philosophy with fellow herders or farmers is, what works for you is best!

“What prompted you to go into goats and goat milk soap?” The interest in soap came first. I began making soap in 2003 (with a soap interest that began as a youngster). My initial investment in goats was geared towards meat goats (boers), but as soon as I got my first dairy goat (Carmella, a nubian) I was hooked. After not making soap for a few years, and after realizing that it was very difficult to obtain a dairy license in Ohio, and also realizing that I was itching to make soap again, I decided to get the goat milk soap ball rolling, full speed ahead. And again, I was hooked. I love goat milk soap! And I am very excited to be able to show a product that is crafted as a product from my hard work on the farm. There is nothing like fresh goat milk. I drink it, I make cheese out of it, and of course, soap and lotion too!

I am ready for more questions…I thank you!!

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A small break from goat milk soap soap talk to answer some farm related questions…this is one of my barn white boards, photo taken a few weeks ago.

On this board I record kidding information (date, dam’s name or ear tag number, the number of kids, and the kid’s sex).

This board plays an important role on my farm. It determines when the kids are weaned (either bottle or dam raised), and it helps me to determine when a kid can be sold. And, since I am part of the USDA Scrapies program, when the information is copied to paper, it is the record keeping that I am held to.

I’ll answer some wonderful questions now:

Do you dam or bottle raise your kids? Both. The boer kids are dam raised (except for those that are special needs cases, such as an abandoned or very sick kid). The dairy kids are always bottle raised on pasteurized milk. When there is a deficit in milk, and there is one right now, the kids nurse on both fresh goat milk and a fraction of milk replacer. I always inch more towards the fresh goat milk (pasteurized) due to the cost, and mostly due to the nutritional value in the “real” goat milk. I have 29 bottle kids today.

How long does it take you to milk? That is difficult to say. It depends upon how many does are in milk and what time of day it is. My day runs like this: 6:30-9:00 (answer email, check in on blog and contacts, prepare milk, eat breakfast, place orders out for shipment), 9:00-10:45 (feed and milk), 10:45-11:00 (break), 11:00-11:30 (prepare for making soap or other bath products, answer email, or prepare for what I plan to do after lunch), 11:30-12:15 (lunch), 12:15-2:30 (make soap or bath products, work on website, pasteurize milk, post on blog, answer email, and other business related duties), 2:30-3:00 (rest), 3:00-4:00 (prepare milk for bottle kids and clean up), 4:00-5:30 (feed and milk), 5:30-6:00 (rest, answer email, read online), 6:00-6:30 (prepare dinner), 6:30-9:00 (prepare customer orders, answer email, relax, and work anything else in that I can, along with another short feeding for the bottle kids). 9:00 (call a friend and then I zombie out). I consider anything after that time “family” time. I love it…shut the door, turn off the phone, enjoy the quiet!

How many does do you keep in milk? Right now I have 8, I generally keep 11 on rotation.

Do you take vacations? No. I do not miss vacations. I do, sometimes, feel as if I am chasing my tail. My schedule is not always as tight as it is right now. After the kids are born the herd more than doubles. But later, after months begin to pass, there are certain times in the year where feeding can take 20 minutes, twice a day. But then there are other duties to catch up on such as hoove trimming (which is needed right now).

How long are the kids on milk? A kid that is a wether (castrated male), one that has grown well, is weaned between 2 1/2 and 3 months old. A doeling is left on the boer dam until the next breeding season. The doeling is then removed to ensure she is not bred at a young age. And kid’s are fed different amounts of milk depending upon their age, and at different times (hence the importance of the white board record keeping again). Right now I have 25 goats on 2 bottles a day, some on 1/2 bottles (10 ounces), some on full bottles twice a day, and 4 that are on 3 feedings a day (full bottles).

I hope that helps with some of your questions, and let me tell you this, your questions are more than okay to ask!

I also keep calendar’s in the barn of due dates, wormings (only when needed), medications (I try to go as natural as possible on this farm), and other records. Fun times…now I need a nap, but I am late for preparing milk for feeding! 🙂

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