I recently purchased a Doe with a single kid, so that I could try my hand at share milking. (Along with an open yearling doe - so I have 3 goats total). The kid is almost one month old and very robust now, so I am hoping the timing is right to start milking the doe. I have worked on my relationship with the doe, who now comes when called and leads easily. I found plans for a milking stand and my husband is making me one. So is there a right way to start milking her??? For example should I milk in the AM for what I want, or is the evening better? Should I always milk at the same time each day and let the kid nurse the rest of the day? The kid will be weaned soon, and I would like to continue milking the goat. Do I have to go to twice a day milking then? If I plan to breed the doe again this winter, when should I stop milking her to let her body recover and prepare for gestation?
My plan initially is to use the milk for my dogs which I feed a RAW diet, and my upcoming litter of puppies. This way I can practice milking and get better at doing it, keeping the milk from getting dirty or contaminated during the collection process, etc. before collecting milk for my family's consumption.
Wow, so much fun. I'm not Deborah, but I hope you don't mind if I answer part of your question.
Our first experience with milking started this April with two does. One that was already giving milk for her third time. And a young doe who was still pregnant with her first kid.
The way we got her used to us, was to put her up in the milking stand and lightly start rubbing our hands near her teets, legs and belly. Areas that we would come in contact later when we milked her. We started that 2 to 3 weeks before she gave birth to the kid. Only a little at first, and more intentional the last week.
But she was never really comfortable with it until after she had kidded, and the milking actually took place and relieved pressure. I think what will work best for you will be to figure out the best way to separate the kid from the doe during the overnight, so that she is ready and wanting to be milked in the morning. Then when her bag is full and you relieve that pressure, she will anticipate, appreciate and I hear some goats even enjoy being milked. But start sooner than later. Be ready for the kid to cry a lot and for the mom to reply. Goats can reply sound pitiful. Be ready and don't give in. Oh, after the morning milking you could let the kid be with the doe until the evening time, and not have to worry about a second milking. Until you are ready to wean the kid, then you would need to milk twice a day. Roughly the same time every day, roughly 12 hours apart between milkings.
If you don't have experience of milking I wouldn't separate overnight as she will be full and tight as it is often more difficult to then get her to let down and to make sure that your technique is correct and you don't cause any problems. Personally I would start by feeding her on the milking stand. Then move up to massaging her udder whilst she is eating. Then just start taking a really small amount and build up. Is there somewhere that you could go to learn how to milk as it takes time to get the technique right for you and that can only be done by practice which is best done on a goat that is used to it.
You've received lots of great advice already, and my book also address this topic, but here's a bit more info so you can get started ASAP. If the doe only has a single kid, you really should have started milking her right away for maximum milk production. Obviously you can't go back in time, but I'm just telling you this so that you're not disappointed by her production, and you'll know that next time she can produce more.
Since she only has one kid, she probably has a little milk in her udder all the time, so as others have said, just put her on the milk stand and try to milk her. First thing in the morning is usually best in terms of getting more milk because kids don't nurse a lot overnight. I wouldn't separate her from the kid for more than a couple of hours initially because it's more difficult to get a let down from a goat that has a very full udder, especially when you're new. If you can't get a let down, you can let the kid nurse for a few seconds to get her started. When we have a doe nursing only one kid, we put her on the milkstand twice a day, both morning and evening to milk her out. She should be able to produce enough milk for two kids, so I say that I'm the other kid in that situation.
In a very small herd, the least stressful way to separate the kid is to put it in a dog crate right there next to mom, so they are not really separated, but the kid can't nurse.
You didn't say whether the kid was a buck or a doe, but if it's a doe, you don't have to wean her. In fact, it would be quite difficult because you don't have another goat to keep her company without leaving the mama alone. Goats are herd animals and should be kept together in groups of at least two, although more is better. If this is a buckling, I'd suggest just castrating him so he can stay with mama.
Hope this helps!
C. E. Rice
Location: Outside Detroit, MI
posted 5 years ago
Deborah, i love your answers, very articulate and helpful. I'm reading all your posts.
Can I ask a bit more though, you said that if it is a doe kid, you don't have to wean her. What do you mean? We were hoping for a little doe, but our kid is a little buckling.
He reached 7 weeks this past Sunday, and we haven't weaned him yet ( or castrated him either). So just curious why the doe kid wouldn't need weening.
When we got started, we would take the doe kids away from their moms by three months of age, and we realized that when we did that, the doe's milk supply would go way down. Also, the kids wind up with worm overloads and/or coccidiosis from the stress of weaning. So, it was a lose-lose. We had a sick kid, and we were not getting any more milk than we were when we were just separating the kid overnight and milking in the morning. Also, we had kids that would go back to nursing when put back with their dam even if they'd been separated for a month or two. We started leaving the doe kids with their mothers forever. We separate them overnight starting at two months, milk the does in the morning, and then let the kids stay with moms all day long to have as much milk as they want. Research out of Europe has now confirmed what we noticed -- does with nursing kids produce more milk than those being milked by humans or machines. When the kids nurse, the does produce oxytocin, which causes them to produce more milk. When we stopped weaning kids, we noticed they also grow faster and are healthier and can be bred to kid as yearlings. So, it's a win-win! If a buck is going to be a wether, I just castrate them at two months and let them continue to nurse. Even if you're going to use them as meat, they continue to grow faster with mom's milk than if they were weaned, so again, it's a win-win.
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