Category Archives: Dairy Goats

Thoughts on dairy goat breeds

First of all I am very opinionated on things I feel strongly about, and goats is one of them, so this blog may seem very bias, because it is. I have had all dairy breeds except Saanen and can give you my view on each except the Saanen. Nigerian Dwarf have what I call little goat syndrome with a few exceptions and not near enough milk. They can be loud and the ones I had did not get along well with the other goat breeds as easily since they are small and are not boss, but they want too badly to be the boss! Lamanchas are out of the question for me because I love ears on a goat and love the alertness of the erect ears on swiss breeds, they can have nice udders and there milk taste good and they can be good milkers. The craziest goat I have ever seen was a Lamancha and she would literally run sideways on the walls of the barn to get away from you! Nubians that I have had or been around were very loud and I like quiet, I am sure you have your exceptions but I have not seen many. Nubians require more food for the same amount of milk as a swiss breed. The only goat I ever had jump a stall was a nubian, and when I try to drench a nubian they love to spit it back at me instead of swallowing. Also they do not make the regular maaaa noise, they scream, seriously. I had one toggenburg and she had the worst milk I ever tasted, they say this breed needs more vitamin B for better milk taste and there milk is naturally stronger flavored for cheese making but maybe there are some with good milk to drink, just make sure to sample before you buy. She ruined me on Toggs. Next is Oberhasli, the breed I wanted to start out with but I could not find does, as they are not as popular of a breed, and it is hard to find different bloodlines often, and I have been told by a long time breeder that they have to be great a Obershasli to equal a good Alpine udder wise, but the Oberhasli milk taste very sweet and good, and they are very sweet and quiet girls, I do love them. Saved the best for last in my opinion, the alpine. They friendly, sociable, mostly quiet, and good tasting milk and a lot of it, with lots of color variety. I was however informed when I had just started into goats that alpines were crazy, break out of fences, ect. I have never seen this to be true of the many alpines I have owned, nor do any the alpines of alpine breeders I know, do this either. They are a wonderful dairy goat through and through, very classy. They are herd aggressive, meaning they will fight within the herd from time to time to see whom is boss. They do not take much food to make a good amount of milk and udders are usually consistent if you make sure to start of with a good udder in the first place and make sure your buck’s dam’s udder is good too. Make sure that teat placement and size is where you want it and teats are big enough and long enough for good hand milking if that is your plan, ask for tons of pictures. Also I would want to taste the milk of any goat purchased if in milk, as I am sure that all good milk tasting breeds have there exceptions. And remember if your does are with a smelly buck then your milk may not taste good.

A Different Kind Of Breeding Schedule

So it is very apparent that everyone wants to breed does each year to acquire that wonderful fresh goats milk each spring. This is the way that most people want to breed because this is what everyone does. I am going to experiment this next few years with a different kind of breeding program idea, breeding every other year and milking through. My plan is to milk a couple through the winter without breeding them and to dry them us as we are weaning there babies at 5 months old. So they would milk until about July of the next year. This will give them about 7 to 8 months off every other year from milking, with 2 to 3 months of that being free of milking AND pregnancy. This is all going to be very dependent of how the doe is milking when breeding season arrives and if I think she will stay in milk through winter. If she is drying up by October then I will breed ber. I have noticed this season to be the determining factor, if they can milk through breeding season fine they will probably milk through all winter fine as well. This kind of breeding schedule is supposed to increase their length of life and quality of health. I will keep this post updated over the next few years to let you know if it works here or not and how the does perform for better or for worse.

Update: I have done this a few years now and love it. Not all my does will do it, but some will. They do not make as much during the winter but we have at least a little fresh milk daily and I am very pleased to have it.

Proven Alpine Bloodlines

Quality Alpine Bloodlines: Be aware these are certainly not the only nice herds to choise from, these are the ones with easy to find wwbsites. Keep in mind I have only researched most of these farms and not been there personally, so I do not know if all of their stock is of equal value, but they at least have some stock that looks very ideal, having traits that I would like to see in my herd. Some of these herds are no longer active.

Amy’s Pride

Angel –Prairie

Artesian Valley

Bearly

Black Wing

Bluff-Top

Brankton

Buffalo Trace

Cat Walk

Chateau Briant’s

Cherein

Cherry Glen

Cherry Hill

Citheria

Cob Cottage

Colquitt’s

Dixie Does

Fox-Trot

Golden Rule

Harmody

Heavenly Hooves

Hill N Holler

Hoach’s

Hoanbu

Hollow Point

Hull’s

Hurricane-PM

Iron Rod

Jordan Valley

Kara Kahl

Kickapoo Valley

La Paysanne

Land O’ I AM

Mamm-Key

Maple Wind

Maple-Glen

Missdee’s

Montage

Moore’s Pond Farm

Mountain Star

Muchin-Hill

Muscadine-Hills

Nixon’s

Noble-Springs

Nodaway

Nut-N-Honey

Olentangy

P J Bailey’s

Parge-A-Rosa

Patteran

Pleasant Grove

Rainbow Colors

Redwood Hills

Regal Katahn

Roeburn

Sand Dance

Serendipity

Shahena’ko

Shining Moon

Sodium Oaks

Soldier Mountian

Spinning Spider

Split Creek

Strawberry-Fields

Sun Rising

Sunshine

Sutton

Sycamore Acres

Tempo Aquila

Terra Dell

Tideland

Tonka Trails

Udder Way

Van Vyk Acres

Walnut Fork

Windrush Farms

Xtraordindairy

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.