So I have had four milk cows at this time, all Jerseys. I hand milk and have hand milked them all. I can tell you there are worlds of difference in milking a cow vs a goat. I am a goat person through and through, I have found my passion for life with them. Cows on the other hand, not so much. They are not as personal, they are not as smart, and cows are more prone to pee or poop while you are in the middle of trying to milk them while they are settling in. Anyway, goats are generally not ever going to pee on the milk stand unless something is really wrong. They hardly ever poop on the milk stand either, and the times I have had this happen were with very first timers entering the milk room with their babies left in a stall screaming for mamma and she is resisting and rather freaked out. After about three days of this they usually settle right down and look forward to there new feeding place and poop on the stand no more. I have also noticed that anytime you want to do anything with a goat and they are laying down, let them go to the bathroom before you allow them into the milk room, because almost every time they get up from laying down they will poop within one minute, and usually do it twice at that. Use common sense here and make sure they are finished before you let them enter the milk room. I do think cows are similar in this but maybe not as fast at getting on with it and getting done. Now, one of my cows came to me kind of trained to milk but not to a stanchion. The other was not trained but was however easy to train and did not seem to mind being milked, but she did hold milk for a while. The first couple times I tried she wasn’t giving anything up and I was very disappointed. It was not until her calf had been sold for three weeks that she started giving us more cream as well. My goats are very sociable and look for me to go sit on the log where they gather round and want me to pet them and be loved on, very fun for me. Cows are much more prone to lift up there leg and have all the milk ruined with one wrong move of their back leg to shift their weight, usually only until they get used to things though. Goats can me milked out much faster and as long as they are not a first freshener in training they are not bad about moving. If they do happen to move and you are on guard you can grab their leg and stop the movement. I can easily milk out my goats before they finish their food, I surely can not do this with the cows. Much to my surprise the cows teats are generally smaller and harder to wrap your hand around than goats teats. I have one cow with ideal teat placement and the other one has teats that are a little far apart for me. It is my plan to only keep heifers with teat placement ideal for hand milking, and I suggest if you are on the search for a home milk cow that you keep this in mind. I highly recommend that if you are going to buy a cow for hand milking that you milk this cow yourself before you buy it in the same way that you plan to milk it at home. This will allow you to see temperament, orifice size, which way the milk squirts, how long it takes you to milk the cow, ect. I would also suggest collecting a milk sample and making sure it is free of mastitis first as well, because this tends to be a problem with dairy cattle . I know from experience that I prefer the does born here to ones that I have bought, they are much more sociable towards me and even other people. Goats are much easier to handle because they do not weigh much more than me, but cows are much more difficult to manage if they do not want to cooperate. Training our cows to come into out milk stanchion was a big deal and my husband had to use his strength to accomplish this. They never would have went in if he had not been able to help me. He helped me for about a week before they would go in on their own. Eventually they go in easily, but it was a very frustrating ordeal at first. My goats usually only take one feeding on the milk stand and are ready to go back from then on. But keep in mind, I will not and do not own any goats that are unfriendly and hard to work with. I am big on breeding for good temperament among all the other things. The shear hand strength it takes to milk a cow is unknown by most. When you start milking, your hand muscles will hurt and cramp and you will not like building up this hand strength but you will get there. I like that I was used to milking goats before I had to milk a cow because even though you do have to go through a hand hurting phase it is not near as hard or painful as cow hand milking. I would simply much rather milk 10 or more goats than one cow, but I will not be able to make butter, bummer. Also keep in mind if milking cows or goats, you really need a descent size orifice to make milking easy and comfortable. Small orifices will cause the strongest hand muscles to hurt and cramp for days, just do yourself a big favor and sell these animals and find one suited for hand milming. By the way for those not familiar with anatomy of dairy animals the orifice is the hole at the end of the teat where the milk squirts out of. Teat size and placement and orifice size should all be huge considerations for anyone raising dairy animals for milking purposes. On another note goats are very clean compared to cows. Goats do not like mud, muck, or to be wet what so ever. Cows on the other hand will muck up land after a good rain then lay right in the mud and their freshly laid big pile of manure as well. You have to therefore clean a cows udder before milking her much more thoroughly and it takes more time. Goats poop in little pebble type balls that are not mushy and even if they lay in it, it will not be all over them when they get up. Goats are also much easier on the land and do not muck up the land near as badldly.
Do you plan or have to feed a baby goat a bottle? Just like the feeding program of everyone I know is different, so is the baby goat bottle feeding procedure and amounts. I can simply tell you about what I have done here. I do not actually like to feed bottle babies what so ever, but I have tried to leave brothers with sisters before, and it is the bucklings that start constantly trying to mount their sister, starting at 12 days and onward, that REALLY BOTHERS ME. So, I will pull bucklings and give them a bottle and attempt to sell them very shortly after birth, after they have had all their colostrum from their dam. If a doe has a single buckling I will leave him with her for about three weeks before pulling him and trying to sell him, so that all that hard work of delivery she just went through seems for a purpose in her life. I will feed these young bucklings a bottle for 2 months. There first couple days I will give them a bottle 3 times during the daytime, I do not get up in the middle of the night, and I feed about 8 ounces per feeding the first couple days if they will take it all. At about 7am, 2pm, and 9pm, feedings. Move up to 10 ounces a time at first, and move up to 16 ounces per feeding over a matter of a week. I will give them 16 ounces each of the three feedings for about 2 weeks. From 2 weeks to 2 months, I will give 2 bootles a day at 16 ounces each. Start to offer a nibble of feed around 3 to 4weeks. I never have and wouldn’t suggest feeding bottle babies the dry powder that you mix with water. I milk the dam and feed it back to them. If I couldn’t, I would try to find someone whom milks and would sell me the milk for the babies. If I could not find someone with a cow, then I would simply feed the milk with the red top at the store, the whole milk. I had to do this one time a couple years ago, it worked out fine. If you are raising smaller goats like Nigerian Dwarf of Pygmies, then I would literally cut the amounts above in half at least.
Dairy-Goat-Crossword very cool crossword puzzle to help you and your kids learn dairy goat parts!
Wanted to take a minute to let you know as far as my reading goes that goat kids need to be tattooed at 6 weeks of age. If you tattoo before this the ear is still growing well and the tattoo may become stretched out and hard to read as it ages. If you wait until they get too old though they become stronger and are hard to hold still. I will suggest that the best ink buy according to my reading is the green paste in a soft tube. We have two people during this procedure, one to do the holding and the other does the ink rubbing and tattooing. We first clean the inside of the ear with alcohol on a cotton ball and clean it well. Next, put on disposable gloves and rub the ink onto the ear where the tattoo will be, then tattoo the ear, then rub more ink into the sight and rub really good for at least 30 seconds. Right ear should have “Your Herd Tattoo” in it and left ear is the ear for the year and number of kid born. So this year is 2019 and the letter will be L and the number is the order in which they were born. For instance, if I have had twins born first, the first one born will receive the letter L and the number 1, L1, and the second twin born will be L2, and so on like this. Do not wash the tattoo ink off, let it alone, it will wear off soon. If the goat is going to be registered it is also supposed to be tattooed. Any tattooing device is bound to get the job done, no need to buy the most expensive one. Hope this helps.
So those of us that have raised goats even a short period of time know how they can waste hay. If it touches the ground it is all she wrote, no way they are eating it now. So we had a couple different kind of hay feeders and are most happy with the ones my husband installed recently. They have 2″x 4″ slots in it and it is a large 16′ stock panel from a farm store. It was much more expensive than a regular cattle panel because its holes are so much smaller, it has a lot more metal on it and it is very heavy. But one of these panels was enough to make every hay feeder in all of our stalls. Six hay feeders that can hold a little over a half a bale each. We only have to put out a bale or two every other day in the winter with nine goats eating from this hay. Another nice thing about these hay feeders other than reducing waste is that they are adjacent to out aisle so that we can just put the hay into it over the wall easily. We can lock the goats into the stall and go through putting out hay without any goats jumping onto the hay or us as we go. They are pretty clean and the goats eat almost all of the hay with these feeders. Also shown are barn pictures to get an idea of what you may or may not like to do with your barn. All of our goat stalls have pallets that were cut in half as a place for the goats to jump onto and rest or play. They LOVE being off the ground. Also my walls of the interior of the barn are half walls, allowing us to see into all the stalls easily and them to see out easily. There is a middle gate in the middle of the aisle that will be closed for one side for juniors and the other side for senior milkers when it is time for weaning. The milkers side has the larger open stall close to the milk room. Also shown is the cow milking stall and stanchion. The cow area is very low tech but is very functional and cheap. I do not keep the cows in their milking stall, they muck it up too fast. The cows stay in a pasture adjacent to this stall with a shelter from wind and rain built off of the front side of the barn. The goats are able to flee the barn if there was ever a fire, they have a small paddock off of each side. Logs cut from large trees provide a place for us to go sit in the paddocks with the goats and soak up the sunlight and fresh air. We have a couple logs in the barn to for rainy days.
Everyone has a different set up for a milk room and their are different kinds of milk stands. I am very happy to have a husband whom can build about whatever he puts his mind to and is willing to build the things I desire around the farm. I love my double header milk stand! I have fast eaters mostly but I do have a couple slow eaters. The slow eaters either have to go last or waste my time in the milk room. So this double header makes it to where I can be more efficient with my milking time. I put a fast eater on one side and a slower eater on the other, then feed them at the same time before I start milking. I can milk quick enough to milk the faster eater first then put her out back into the holding stall and then come back and milk the slower eaters before they are done eating, great. Also, if you ever tried to really compare udders from one to another, the goats usually move to much to really see good. I can now put them side by side onto the stand and see better and make my decision about which one is wider or taller or whatever. I would like to say that most milk stand dimensions are not big enough for my taste. I like the goats to be able to lift up their heads more and I like them to not about fall off for a slight movement. I clip my goats on the milk stand, and one wrong move on a short stand and they would about break their neck. My milk stand dimensions preferred are 16″ off the ground with a 3′ tall headpiece coming off of the stand, 22″ wide, and 48″in length, with the inside neck hole being 17″ by 3″. This works well for my size goats. I also have pictures of the milk room shown to give examples. I love the large windows that can be closed if I desire. I can look right into the back yard and see my children playing. I also like having an overhead fan to deter flies when milking and to help beat the summertime humidity of Alabama. It is ran on a switch I can flip on by the light switch. Also a mirror on the opposite wall of the window catches the light and reflects it back into the room, and opens up the room and makes me feel less claustrophobic, and allows me to seem more outdoors as I see the trees reflection. I like to store all of my goat supplies that are not affected by heat or cold at the barn in bins so that dirt daubers and dust can not ruin everything. Believe me if it is left out, dirt daubers are bound to find a way to build a nest in it. This helps keep things better organized for easier finding as well. I have a half wall of pallets with a pallet gate in it that leads to the feed room next to it. This is open but at the same time the goats can not access the feed room as they come into the milk room area. I like to prefix my food in coffee and sour cream containers that I have collected. This kind of open design that is likely to accumulate dust over time is probably not best for a milk room from which a lot of milk will be sold, but for our small homestead it is quite sufficient. As far as reading the book The Small Scale Dairy, the whole system I have is not as germ free as a milk selling facility should be. So if you plan to sell milk or milk products I suggest you read this book first and make your decision on your milk room from there. Of course, we already had this barn built by the time I read this book. No matter what windows would definitely have to be included and a mirror on the opposite wall, indeed. For goat supplies that are heat or cold sensitive I keep a goat cabinet in my house for those items. I store all of my feed stuffs in short metal barrels with lids to prevent moisture, spoilage and mice from ruining any of it.
Goat transportation does not need to involve a large trailer that are usually hard for a women to load or unload by there self. I have a husband whom is awesome at building with wood that built me this awesome camper shell so that I can transport goats at whim. I used to have a caravan that had a hitch on it and pulled a small 4’X 6′ trailer. It worked fine until I decided to upgrade to a truck which I am happy to have. Most people we know just use dog crates in small suvs or small truck beds. This works great and a tarp on top will help with wind if it is a open wire cage.
I want to inform everyone of a fabulous book that tells you how to collect and store milk that is very clear and direct in how to do things. This book also tells you how to do at home test to make sure your milk is the quality you think it should be. The book is The Small Scale Dairy by Gianaclis Caldwell book link and she also writes another book I have and it is a very advanced detailed book on cheesemaking called Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking cheesemaking book link . Seems most of the importance is in milking a clean and dry udder and then getting your milk into sterilized clean containers and getting the milk below 40 degrees within 2 hours at the most but wanting at 40 degrees within 30 minutes is much more preferred. Getting the milk cold enough before bacteria that like the warm temperature is probably the number one difficulty of this process. If this step is not met though the milk is likely to spoil long before it would if proper temperatures were met shortly after milk is collected. Making sure the animal is washed up and clean is your first step and their are a million products available to help you accomplish this process. Then make sure to dry the udder and teats, also always strip the first three squirts of milk from each teat into a separate strip cup to get the most bacteria out of the milk before milking. Once your done milking go ahead and cool it to below 40 degrees. This can be accomplished by placing the milk bucket into another larger bucket that has ice water in it, and then with a clean stainless steel spoon stir the milk, use a thermometer to make sure the temp is where you want it all throughout the milk. Then pour the milk through your strainer with a filter in it into previously sanitized jars, most people use a setting on the dishwasher for this. Then go ahead and get your jars of milk into the back of the fridge where they can stay their coldest. Make sure you jar lids are clean as well. There is a trick I saw on one site that kept ice water with salt on it in the freezer for a while so they did not have to use new ice everyday, great idea. There is a wonderful article I think everyone should print out and follow and if you sell milk to individuals give them a copy as well so that everyone can keep their milk the freshest the longest. The link to the article is here milk handling article . This is a great article to use for knowledge of how to handle milk until you can get the book above, and read section two of that book first to learn about milk collecting and handling.
I like to ring to the title and believe it to be very true indeed. I am a huge fan of the number one bible verse for all us milkmaids out there.
Proverbs 27:23-27 – “Be you diligent to know the state of your flocks, and look well to your herds. For riches are not for ever: and does the crown endure to every generation? The hay appears, and the tender grass shows itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. The lambs are for your clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. And you shall have goats’ milk enough for your food, for the food of your household, and for the maintenance for your maidens.”
I am a huge fan of Fir Meadows Farm Herbal practices and herbal sales Fir Meadow link and of Land of Havilah herbal practices Land of Havilah link , I suggest you read some of their articles on the webpage, very interested and different than the average Joe indeed. I started using a particular herb I am sold on called GI Soother by Fir Meadow GI Soother link . I started out with a couple bucks that had horrible disbudding jobs that were several weeks old at the time. I wanted to fix the scurs with my disbudding iron and make them not grow back, but they were very stressed by this being older and just being moved to a new home. I learned a hard lesson. I got one of them disbudded again and the job was successful, but the little fellow got bad scours. I was about to do the other bucklings head when he got scours too. Turned out they had cocci in high loads. I bought the dimethox and treated them. But I also had to drench them every couple hours as they would not eat or drink or get up. This went on for a good 4 days. By the time a week went by they were fine and getting back to normal. So the next time I saw a scour I was armed with GI soother and it worked so much faster and better than the previous dimethox. I do have a centrifuge and did do fecal samples to see that cocci was the issue. I now stay on top of cocci as a preventative like most people do with the pellets they add to food daily for the first few months of life. I give GI Soother to all my young ones born from 10 days to 4 months either in a bottle or in a drencher every other day in the spring . They learn to take a drench good though and if I need to drench them as an adult, no big deal and no fighting. I have used this on other peoples goats that have scours with the same amazing results. This product simply works, and works much better and is much safer than dimethox, and is cheaper to boot. I like the Deworm A Deworm A link as long as you can give fresh garlic with it to boost its potential, this is a preventative and I give two times a week, it is not a fix all for a bad wormy goat, giving fresh ginger with it is also helpful, but make sure to use the garlic. It is used to prevent them from getting bad wormy. I also like to use the copper/selenium herbal blend Kop/Sel link to make sure they have enough of these since our soils are so depleted. I also give this blend in my prenatal blend starting two months before due dates.
I used another wonderful herb twice now and will always keep a jar in my cupboard. It is DVenom DVenom Link . This is for venomous bites. My boxer dog was bit on the mouth by a baby copperhead snake last summer. His face was swollen up within 30 minutes. He lay down and we started dosing him with this DVenom ticnture when I saw the swelling. We gave it to him every couple hours. By the next morning all of the swelling in his face was almost gone but looked to move down into his throat. But by the next morning he was acting normal running and playing with the neck swelling gone down a good bit as well. I believe this tincture saved him and I ordered more. Soon one of my does came back from the woods and was rolling and itching but I did not think it a big deal and came back a few minutes later and her face had started to swell. I felt her and she had what seemed like a thousand bites all over her. I believe she got into the yellow jackets that we could not find the nest to but had been seeing in the woods. I did start giving her the DVenom immediately and every couple hours as well. The next day she was so swollen you could not recognize her. I kept treating her with the herb and started spraying a sea salt solution for wounds that I made up on her. The next day she was much better with at least half the swelling gone, and the next day about 3/4 of the swelling gone, and by the next day she was ok. The sea salt solution helps the scabs go ahead and dry up and fall off, and man there were tons of them. I can not imagine how many times she was stung, poor girl. I am so thankful I had this product on hand and that it saved her as well. God did not leave us defenceless, he gave us the plants on earth to use, we just lost the knowledge of what to use and how and how much along the lines of generations that started using modern medicine instead. It only takes ONE generation for knowledge to be lost, what a shame.
Going to get off the topic of animals for a moment and tell how a man I know was helped by herbs as well. He had acute swelling in his legs from the knee down, and of course refused to go to the doctor. His wife ordered him some heart herb from Dr.Christophers and cayenne herb powder pills as well. He took two of each kind of pill at least three times a day. So 12 pills a day. He was sick in bed when he started taking these herbs and the wife felt that the legs were swollen from a circulation problem stemming from the heart. The herbal pills worked a wonder. Within a day he felt better and within a couple days he could move around good with the swelling going down. The swelling was all the way gone within a week, but the herbs continued to be consumed for a couple more weeks to be on the safe side. Dr. Christophers makes many herbal tictures, powder pills, ect. They are awesome, Fir Meadows sells some of his products as well, like the cayenne tincture cayenne pepper tincture link that I give to baby goats right after birth( man does it lively them up if they are sluggish!). This product is also great for shock, bleeding, and the heart. My husband is able to take the smokeout Smoke Out link which is a high heat cayenne tincture to help smokers and dippers quit and get good nutrition. When they have the urge for a dip they just use smoke out instead. It is very hot though, not for sensitive to hot spices people.
Coming soon…. a praise report about Fir Meadow’s Wonderful Salve Wonderful Salve link
So, first of all, it seems very clear to me that management at every farm is different. We all feed different amounts of different foods, breed at different times, wean at different times, ect., always different. I will just give you a little insight on the way I do things here so that if you are new to the goat world you have a little direction until you find your own path that works best for you.
I do my goats feet every month or two depending on the goat. Some will need it more than others. There is usually some hoof that needs to trimmed off at this point and the hoof needs a good cleaning out anyway. I include the bucks feet in this too, even during rut, he needs to be taken care of. I wear a buck suit, which mine is a reused green pilot suit, with gloves and then I am completely covered and do not worry about my cloths smelling like buck. I have done goats feet that were very neglected and have learned that if the hoof can grow long enough to grow around and get dirt trapped in it as it grows that the bacteria in the dirt can make holes in the hoof and start foot rot. In this case I would soak the foot with Dr. Naylor Hoof N’ Heel at the tractor supply and Jeffers Jeffers link . Then I would spray it with Dr. Naylor Blu-Kote. Try to get any dips of hoof that look like a potential dirt trap cut off the foot while trimming. If you start to get into pink skin for white hoofed goats you are about to draw blood, so stop. Black hooves are my preferred color hoof as they do not seem to bleed as easily, however they do not look pink before blood so you have to know when to stop from experience and carefulness. Cayenne pepper powder is a great blood stop to have on hand. They do sell blood stop powders at Co ops or some people use corn starch. If you are trimming little babies feet be careful and only take off a little, they are much easier to damage and much softer. Young goats under one year hooves will seem to grow much faster than the older does, and bucks in rut hooves grow a lot as well, non pregnant goat feet seem to grow more than pregnant, ect. Please take care of your goats feet, they need to walk good for all their life, and unless they are running around in the desert with rocks and ridges to wear their feet down, chances are they depend on YOU to take care of their feet. I notice that if there is a main area of management that is neglected that it is feet, that is why I chose to do this subject first.
I breed most of my goats each year and milk some of them through instead of breeding them. I dry up the ones getting bred when I wean the babies. Then I dry up the ones I milked through when the babies start being separated in the spring. I know everyone feels different about when goats should be bred for the first time. But after speaking with a long time dairy goat owner that has been to the west and seen many more farms than my self, along with books and articles, I decided that I will breed my doelings the first year. Preferably when they are 8 months and 70 pounds or more. I have done this and I pray for twins for that first timer because the single baby will likely be bigger and will be harder to push out. I do not feed to much extra to keep the babies from growing to much and getting too big, feed management can be a little tricky indeed. I make sure I can be there to help that first timer as well. I am actually sure to be there for all births, but if I had to pick any to make your priority it would be first fresheners, especially one year olds. It is hard to keep a dairy goat until two to freshen without them getting overweight. We do like to show our goats in a few local shows, but the reason we have goats is for the milk, so it would make no since to me to hold them dry until two years old. I will not turn a young buck loose with lots of does and expect them all to get bred. I would only breed him to one doe per day preferably. Two at the most if I had no other option. I like to take a doe to a buck and let them breed once, then take her back a couple hours later, then repeat the next day if she is still in heat. Three times in one day is the most I do for one doe. I do not leave them together so that the buck does not get wore down chasing her. Because lots of does will cycle close together and you are bound to need that same buck to service a few other does all in the same week. Feed him good during this time of breeding and start to up his food a little a couple weeks before you plan to breed. Rut takes a lot out of a buck, take good care to give them proper nutrition and shelter.
Milking and Feeding Time:
I already made a blog post listing my feeding program and will not go over that again. I know everyone is stuck on the 12 hours apart milking and feeding program, but I do not take part in this system. I like to feed and milk on a schedule that works for MY house. I feed and milk in the summer at about 8:30am and 6pm. I will feed twice during the winter and milk once, milking in the morning at about 8:30am and feeding again in the afternoon before dark at about 4pm. As long as you are consistent do what works for you. I will separate babies starting at three weeks old, from older does not yearlings, to start milking the dam in the morning. I will then leave the baby with her all day and put the babies up at about 8 at night in their own stall. I will wean the babies from their dam at 5 months old into a separate area where the babies are no longer with the dams. They will stay separated until they no longer try to nurse, this could take several months, every goat is different, you never know when it will be.
Here in the dirty humid south we have to worry about the barberpole worm parasite load, and more. Please visit wormboss website and learn the life cycles and how to keep the loads down. I have no desire to be worming my goats with chemicals all the time, I do not think this stuff is good for them and do not know how long it really stays in their system. I will use a dewormer if necessary, but I would do rotational grazing or use a dry lot to keep from having to. All chemical dewormers have withdrawal days for milk and those are listed on the fiascofarm.com website. Take yourself to a famancha work shop and get a card and learn how to read a famancha score. This will help you with the barberpole worm only though. I have my goats in dry lots and I have a 6 acre pasture of woods and brush. I keep the does in their area, and in the time where leaves are growing, I take the herd to the woods pasture and I let them browse for a few hours , then I bring them back up to their dry lot at the barn. Do not let goats browse wet pasture early in the morning, make sure the dew is dry before turning them out. Do not let goats graze grass to lower than 4 inches tall. Do not let goats graze when rainy and wet. Goats were meant to be browsers not grazers, so they do not have a good tolerance to worms and can acquire a heavy worm load quickly. I do my own fecal samples or famanchas and know when I need to deworm. I also know dewormers do not always work. Also most dewormers are not meant to be a one time use and done, because they only kill adult worms and you have to repeat the worming to catch the next adults and sometimes again. Most worming for barberpole worm is to do it , wait 10 days repeat, wait 10 more days repeat. Or if there is a light load you may get by with two doses 14 days apart. Deworming rates are based on the weight of the goat and seeing how unaccurate a weight tape can be compared to a scale, I highly suggest a scale before deworming, I use this one pet scale link . I have read many times that safeguard does not work and is a waste of time and money, so I have never tried it. I do not like the injectibles, they seem to hurt the goat very very badly.