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Milking Nigerian dwarfs and Kinders - To Difficult?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Location: North East Ohio USA (Zone 6b)
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I have 4 acres of land, 2 are cleared, 2 are wooded. I want to get two miking does, and possibly a buck at some point.

I love everything I've read about Nigerian dwarfs and Kinders except one thing - that in some peoples opinions they are very difficult to milk because of their small teats. Is this your experience? I have smallish hands with arthritis so I am looking for a goat breed that would be easy to milk so I'm not sure if maybe I should size up to a Nubian. I know a full sized milking doe is fine for me to milk but have not had an opportunity to try milking a smaller breed.

Otherwise the Nigerian dwarfs or Kinders sound like a great fit for my property and my permaculture plans.  

Any thoughts or experience you could share? Thanks!
 
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You simply use a different technique to milk NDs and other goats with smaller teats. It is not necessarily harder. I complained endlessly my first year with NDs because I had milked a cow before. However, once I figured out that I couldn't use the same technique, I actually prefer milking NDs to bigger goats. We've had NDs since 2002 and also had LaManchas for about 10 years, and I actually found the NDs easier to milk because there were several techniques I could use for milking them. With the LMs, it just basically squeezing with all three or four fingers, which meant my hands got tired really fast. With the NDs, I could switch between milking with (1) thumb, pointer, and middle finger, or (2) thumb, middle, and ring finger, or (3) rolling my thumb against my pointer finger. So, when one finger gets tired, I just switch to a different combination of fingers and thumb so that the stress gets spread around my hand.
 
Adrienne Halbrook
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Thank you Deborah!! Your milking method sounds great and very doable for me! I'm saving it in my milking doe notes.

Thanks again!
 
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Location: Trafford, PA, United States
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I also have ND's, but have never milked any other type of goat. I also had a rough time the first season, but I switch hands and use different methods during milking, including the 3-finger approach. After a while, your hands get used to it, and don't cramp as easily...

I'm attaching some pics here, because I'm brand new on Permies, and trying to figure everything out...
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Ye old farmhouse
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My raised beds...
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Hubby built me a milking stand.
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Makin' maple syrup!
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rhubarb beds
 
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I have Toggenburg dairy goats, and I highly recommend them. They are medium size, with a good attitude,and produce good milk. One of the best things about them is that they are a quiet breed, unless something is wrong. I use the Udderly EZ milker and I love it. I have some hand problems due to damage from the Hep B vaccine series I had when I worked at a hospital. Whatever breed you choose-- enjoy!!
 
pollinator
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I've never milked dwarf goats before, but I find also that changing milking methods using different combinations of fingers and thumbs helps with hand problems.

I have Saanens and Toggenburgs, and basically just built my herd from whatever good dairy goats were around locally in my price range rather than worrying much about breed. If you want lots of fat in the milk though then maybe NDs or Nubians are a good option, although they won't handle cold weather as well as the European breeds.
 
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Location: San Vicente Creek watershed, California Coastal range, 2400ft
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We have had Nigerian Dwarf Dairy goats for 10 years.  I have hand problems and milk with both hands on one teat, so I may close off the top with my thumb and pointer finger of my left hand then use my thumb and one or two finger on my right hand to roll the milk down the teat.  This means I do one teat at a time, but this is still pretty quick.  Another very important item to make sure of is the teat size of the goats you buy, there is large variation for the Nigerians because some people who only breed for small size and do not milk may have Does with teeny teats.  You want to see the Dam in milk to check out her conformation in general, and udder and teats, and even better, also pictures of the Sires Dams Udder.  You should do this anyway for a milker but for the Nigerians you can also then check out teat sizes to give you some idea of what yours will grow up to have.  Ask the breeder about milk production and milking ease.  Then, do know, the second breeding, the teat and/or orifice size and milking will be easier than the first freshening.  Even with my hands I can milk a Nigerian with smaller teats, but it takes a bit longer and more likely to cramp  up if it is more than one doe like that in a row.  The small teats is how I developed the hold off with left hand and roll down with only one finger and thumb on right hand.  Larger teats means using at least 2 fingers on right hand, so faster. It also became easier as I became more used to it, then I never had to stop and shake out my hand and after a while could do 3 in a row.  

To get used to it, for your first milking/freshening you will have only one doe and once a day to get your hands built up.  Nigerian dwarf dairy goats are the only breed that can breed year round, so you can breed offset to keep up a steady milk supply, for example, you could have 3 does and breed them 4 months apart, and this will mean after you get your system going that you will have 2 in milk at all times, one coming into season and one going out, the third one will be dry for 3 months ( or 4 months to give her more rest, but at least 2 months of end of pregnancy dry, they have a 5 month gestation, and then the first month postpartum).  You would breed them once a year, usually.  Anyway, when you first start up, only one goat will have given birth, you leave the kids with her 24/7 for 3 or 4 weeks, usually 4 as they often have multiples, then you lock up the kids at night , like in a dog crate next to mom so they can see each other, then you milk the doe in the morning, then let the kids out to be with her all day.  SO, you are learning to milk only on one doe once a day.  This also means that at the beginning when the kids are young, that you dont need to worry about doing a good job, if you get tired and dont milk her out the kids will ! SO, then no pressure, you dont need to even be milking one doe the first few weeks, you can just milk "some" like milk half what is there as you get your hands used to it. Nigerian Dwarf kids can be taken off the Dam at 2 months at the earliest, you have to see how they are doing eating, so 8 weeks no longer than 10 weeks, they grow up faster than other breeds.  After that, you separate them from mom entirely if you want more milk, so you can then milk twice a day, or stay with once a day if it is easier.  
 
Adrienne Halbrook
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Location: North East Ohio USA (Zone 6b)
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Debi Baker wrote:We have had Nigerian Dwarf Dairy goats for 10 years.  I have hand problems and milk with both hands on one teat, so I may close off the top with my thumb and pointer finger of my left hand then use my thumb and one or two finger on my right hand to roll the milk down the teat.  This means I do one teat at a time, but this is still pretty quick.  Another very important item to make sure of is the teat size of the goats you buy, there is large variation for the Nigerians because some people who only breed for small size and do not milk may have Does with teeny teats.  You want to see the Dam in milk to check out her conformation in general, and udder and teats, and even better, also pictures of the Sires Dams Udder.  You should do this anyway for a milker but for the Nigerians you can also then check out teat sizes to give you some idea of what yours will grow up to have.  Ask the breeder about milk production and milking ease.  Then, do know, the second breeding, the teat and/or orifice size and milking will be easier than the first freshening.  Even with my hands I can milk a Nigerian with smaller teats, but it takes a bit longer and more likely to cramp  up if it is more than one doe like that in a row.  The small teats is how I developed the hold off with left hand and roll down with only one finger and thumb on right hand.  Larger teats means using at least 2 fingers on right hand, so faster. It also became easier as I became more used to it, then I never had to stop and shake out my hand and after a while could do 3 in a row.  

To get used to it, for your first milking/freshening you will have only one doe and once a day to get your hands built up.  Nigerian dwarf dairy goats are the only breed that can breed year round, so you can breed offset to keep up a steady milk supply, for example, you could have 3 does and breed them 4 months apart, and this will mean after you get your system going that you will have 2 in milk at all times, one coming into season and one going out, the third one will be dry for 3 months ( or 4 months to give her more rest, but at least 2 months of end of pregnancy dry, they have a 5 month gestation, and then the first month postpartum).  You would breed them once a year, usually.  Anyway, when you first start up, only one goat will have given birth, you leave the kids with her 24/7 for 3 or 4 weeks, usually 4 as they often have multiples, then you lock up the kids at night , like in a dog crate next to mom so they can see each other, then you milk the doe in the morning, then let the kids out to be with her all day.  SO, you are learning to milk only on one doe once a day.  This also means that at the beginning when the kids are young, that you dont need to worry about doing a good job, if you get tired and dont milk her out the kids will ! SO, then no pressure, you dont need to even be milking one doe the first few weeks, you can just milk "some" like milk half what is there as you get your hands used to it. Nigerian Dwarf kids can be taken off the Dam at 2 months at the earliest, you have to see how they are doing eating, so 8 weeks no longer than 10 weeks, they grow up faster than other breeds.  After that, you separate them from mom entirely if you want more milk, so you can then milk twice a day, or stay with once a day if it is easier.  



Thank you for sharing your experience and all the helpful information!! I love the idea of being able to ease into milking. I'm putting your reply in to my milking doe notes! Thanks again!
 
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