Monthly Archives: February 2016

About Milking Cows vs Goats

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.

Bottle feeding baby goats

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.

Tattooing Goat Kids

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.

Barn and hay feeder ideas

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.

Milk Room and Milk Stand

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.


Transporting Goats

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.