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How can you milk goats and know you are leaving enough for the kids?

 
Annie Hope
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We are in New Zealand - so early spring.

I have two goats who each have two kids, and also a fifth buck kid we got at 10 day to use for breeding, he feeds where he can grab it, and I make sure he gets a good feed at milking.

Without separating them, I was getting up to 1-2 quarts of milk between the two, but this is down to almost a cup,

A few days ago we moved the milking time slowly from morning to evening, so we could go away overnight.

I am not sure if it is this or just because the kids are getting bigger and drinking more (one set and the buck are 3 weeks, and the other set is 2 weeks).

I am thinking of putting a bra on the mothers for a few hours and then letting them milk. I don't want milk production to drop permanently, (I want to raise some calves in a few weeks time, and then make cheese), but I don't want to take so much that the kids are not getting sufficient to grow well.

If production does drop, can I bring it back up later?

At what age does it not matter if a kid is not getting all its food requirements in milk. (They are running all day and night on lush green pastures and an overgrown hay field. so plenty of food if they want it).

Annie
 
R Scott
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put the bra on them 2, 4, 6, even 12 hours a day if the kids are over a month old. It is more about what is convenient for you, but you need to put the bra on AFTER milking, too, for recovery time of at least a few hours. The kids will take as much as they can get, and will get by on a lot less--it will encourage them to start solid food faster.
 
Kelly Smitherson
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I started to reply like four times, but I am just so confused here I will just wait and see if someone explains how this bra idea would work for this situation
 
Annie Hope
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Hi,

I think you are asking what a goat bra is? I grew up for six years in Pakistan where there was no garbage collection any most places in the city. Rubbish was just thrown outside in the streets. The goats would wander round at will and eat what they could of the rubbish. To stop the kids that were also wandering with them drinking at will, they would put cloth bras on them. Here is a picture from elsewhere of what they look like:
http://postcardfromafrica.blogspot.co.nz/2012/06/goat-bra-and-mistaken-identity.html


I may have confused you when I said "I am thinking of putting a bra on the mothers for a few hours and then letting them milk.". it should have said "and then milking them". It would mean that the kids are separated from the milk for a few hours, but not all night, which seems to be the standard advice from when a kid is 1-2 weeks old if you want to milk it. I have an 8 month old son who still demand feeds a few times at night, and as a new softie to farming, I don't want to do to my animals what I would not consider doing to my own son. I also don't want to take milk away till I know that they are old enough to eat and fill up on an alternative.

I was a little confused about needing to leave the bra on after milking for a recovery period. From what I know about human milk, the more stimulation the better to improve production.

Annie
 
R Scott
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Annie Hope wrote: I was a little confused about needing to leave the bra on after milking for a recovery period. From what I know about human milk, the more stimulation the better to improve production.


Either leave it on for a little bit to let her refill or don't milk her dry. If you let the kids on her right after milking they can be aggressive if she runs dry before they get their fill. You just stimulated her by milking, now she needs a little time to make the next batch.
 
greg patrick
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Milk breeds of goats make WAY more milk than the kids need. In fact, kids will be better milkers later in life if you get them on greens sooner. So what we do is separate the kids from mom 12 hours a day. We leave the kids with mom during the day so they can learn how to be a goat, then put them with the non-milkers at night adjacent to mom. In the morning we milk and put everyone back together until the afternoon. No one cries and we get our share. Problems solved.
 
kadence blevins
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easiest way to milk and not bottle feed....
at night put the milk does in one area and the kids in another. **make sure they are secured and cannot reach eachother**seperated by only a fence wont work, they will nurse through the fence**
in the morning milk the does, feed, put out in pasture. let kids out in pasture.
repeat
 
Kari Gunnlaugsson
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I'm thinking about goats and milk as well...I'm just not sure how feasible the management would be for me. I suppose I could just halter break a heifer and drink cows milk, but the length of the goat lactation is appealing.

Regarding the logistics of milking goats...You are restricting kid access by using a bra or separate pens overnight and then milking? Would there be any problems with altering this schedule to allow an overnight or a weekend away from the farm...ie letting the kids have free access to the doe while you are away and then returning to milking schedule on return?? I'm really not interested in maximizing milk production, I just need a little. Also there is lots of land available, so i think it would be easier for me to keep an extra goat or two than to have to manage fewer of them more intensively.

What are the drawbacks to using a bra? I would rather not pen simply because I'd rather have them out grazing on the land than cooped up where they need to be fed and will trash the vegetation. Does portable electric netting work to contain them or would they laugh at that?

thank you so much for your advice..
 
kadence blevins
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Kari Gunnlaugsson wrote: I'm thinking about goats and milk as well...I'm just not sure how feasible the management would be for me. I suppose I could just halter break a heifer and drink cows milk, but the length of the goat lactation is appealing.

Regarding the logistics of milking goats...You are restricting kid access by using a bra or separate pens overnight and then milking? Would there be any problems with altering this schedule to allow an overnight or a weekend away from the farm...ie letting the kids have free access to the doe while you are away and then returning to milking schedule on return?? I'm really not interested in maximizing milk production, I just need a little. Also there is lots of land available, so i think it would be easier for me to keep an extra goat or two than to have to manage fewer of them more intensively.

What are the drawbacks to using a bra? I would rather not pen simply because I'd rather have them out grazing on the land than cooped up where they need to be fed and will trash the vegetation. Does portable electric netting work to contain them or would they laugh at that?

thank you so much for your advice..


actually alot of people do that way just because of the reason that if they need to go somewhere they can just let the kids have free access all day and not have to worry about milking.

if you just need a little then this sort of scheduale milking a goat i think sounds best.
cows give LOTS of milk. i've never milked a cow out by hand but i help the neighbor a few times with their machine setup and it takes about as long for one cow with a machine as i do one goat by hand. so i can imagine if i ever got a cow she would need to be super friendly and likely be standing a while before i got done by hand hahaha.

i have no experience with "goat bra's" sorry.

i have found very few goats who would stay in the moveable electric fence. and usually its that they just decide its better to stay inside and get out when feed is late, etc.
my fence varies from 5ft to 9ft tall. my pasture for the goats is about 5 acres. if there is a spot that they can get out of then i know it pretty soon. goats test fence all the time. and if you have a decent size herd they will seriously gang up and work down the fence in order to jump over it. my dad once saw the leader doe stand on the fence and let everyone else out before then jumping over herself.
but usually you just need to find what works best for the people you buy your goats from, then what works for you and the goats you get.
tends to be trial and error.

good luck!
 
Kim Kingbold
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Kids will over eat if allowed to stay on their moms if the moms are producing well. I just pull all the kids and bottle feed. This lets me know if the kids are getting adequate nutrition or too much. Sometimes a doe will not let the kids nurse enough or she is drying off for some reason and you won't know it if the kids are on her. Also taking the kids and bottle feeding means they will be usually be easier to handle all their lives.

If you aren't planning to use the buck kids for breeding, now is a good time to butcher them. Dairy bucklings drink a ton of milk and give little meat in return. If you don't plan to butcher then I'd sell them asap or even give them away. The milk is worth more to you than the little you will get for a dairy buckling or the small amt of meat.
 
Renate Howard
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Around here dairy bucklings are going for $75 and up, at a week old! Definitely try to sell them as bottle babies!
 
Melba Corbett
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I don't like the extra effort bottle feeding takes and the way it ties me down when I have to go somewhere and get home late. All my kids are dam raised, and I've never met friendlier goats anywhere. I handle all of them from birth, hold them in my lap, pick up their feet, leash break at a few days old, and they just think I'm Grandma. They follow me instead of their mother oftentimes, and always come when I call them. (All my animals do, even the cows). I shut up the dams overnight when I want milk in the morning. Then, if I have to go out of town, I leave plenty of hay in the racks, keep them in the barn, and have the neighbor check on them. That way I'm not so tied down to a regular schedule. No, I don't do it often, but like to know I have the option.

I do normally have to milk them out once or twice a day when the kids are very young. I just watch udders to see if they need milking or not. A baby two weeks old or more can drink as much as two quarts a day, and any more is really just too much. A lot of milk at one time can cause scouring. A good dam will kick off the babies and not let them nurse very long at the time, and this prevents this. In very cold weather, I don't separate them for milking, I leave them with their moms so they can lie down together and stay warm. I usually start separating them at night at about two weeks old, sometimes sooner if they are growing fast enough and I need the milk. Keep in mind, they aren't digesting forage until about two weeks old, even though they may be nibbling at it. Their digestive enzymes are being primed to get them off to a good start by nibbling at various things.

When a dam has plenty of milk and the babies are on them all the time, the kids are so full of milk and so satisfied, they don't start eating solids early. You want them to eat forage early, so they develop good rumen at an early age. It can make or break a goat whether they have good rumen development early on. When they don't, they usually don't amount to much later in life because they can't hold enough forage to be really efficient at producing body weight or milk. I've found that separating them at night makes them hungry enough to eat hay, and start on forage when they go out in the morning to the pasture because mom's udder is empty and I don't leave them any milk because I WANT them to go out and eat. She'll make more milk very quickly, but they get in a little grazing meanwhile. Babies nursing an empty udder will keep up her milk production too, as long as she gets quality feed and is relatively free of parasites. Genetics play a big role too. Some goats just produce more and have longer lactations.

If a kid isn't getting enough milk it will be listless and lie around a lot because it's energy is low. If the kids are bouncing and growing, you know they are getting enough.

Parasites can also rob vitaliity, and I'll post to the parasite forum about that.

Got to run, have a doe in labor and it is 20 degrees at the barn. I'll help dry them off so they don't get too chilled and make sure they get their first colostrum quickly to warm them up, then they'll be ok.
 
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