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Drying goats off?

 
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We have a motley mix of milkers here in Mexico. Our issue for the last decade has been drying the ladies off when it’s the end of our season and we are ready to breed them for the following year.we have not found a great way to efficiently reduce milk supply without high incidence of mastitis. Of course we go from one milking a day to every other, etc., but still often have issues.
Would love to have your thoughts on this.
Many congrats on your book, it’s hard work to be sure. My hubby, Dan just published “The Mexico Diaries”, an account of living off grid in rural Mexico.
 
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Location: West Midlands UK (zone 8b) Rainfall 26"
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So what would happen if you let them carry on and aimed for a longer kidding interval?  Do you want the kids for meat or does it need to be one year for another reason?
 
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Daniel Gair wrote:We have a motley mix of milkers here in Mexico. Our issue for the last decade has been drying the ladies off when it’s the end of our season and we are ready to breed them for the following year.we have not found a great way to efficiently reduce milk supply without high incidence of mastitis. Of course we go from one milking a day to every other, etc., but still often have issues.
Would love to have your thoughts on this.
Many congrats on your book, it’s hard work to be sure. My hubby, Dan just published “The Mexico Diaries”, an account of living off grid in rural Mexico.



Thank you!

Do you feed dolomite lime to them, either offered free choice, or mixed into their feed?
Do you reduce their grain ration as they approach drying-off time?

If you haven't tried either of these, it will be worth trying both. For the dolomite - a tablespoon per day, per goat is a good amount, and more of it isn't going to hurt them. At the extreme end of the grain reduction, you can reduce the grain ration to nothing at all for the most mastitis-prone time, just keep an eye on their condition to make sure they're not losing weight during this time.

One thing I'm a little unclear about from your post - are you drying off before they get pregnant, or when they're in the last two months or pregnancy? If you're doing it before they get pregnant, then it may be that their natural cycle at this time is to just keep producing milk, where as later on in pregnancy they are more likely to be ready to be dried off.

If none of this works, it may be that you have some goats that just can't be dried off, or can't be dried off without mastitis problems. You can selectively breed them in order to reduce (or eliminate) the mastitis-prone genetics in the herd over time.

I recently bought a Saanen goat from someone who never dried his goats off at all. The offspring of these goats were all very healthy, some of the finest goats I've ever seen, so they weren't too badly affected by their mothers not being dried off. I think in general it's best to err on the side of caution and dry goats off if you can do it, but I use this example here to say that you don't necessarily have to, and if I had to pick between mastitis, and not drying a goat off, I would not dry her off.
 
Daniel Gair
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Our goats free range and during the rainy season when the jungle kicks in so does the milk. We had them nearly dry in June, mostly so we can travel and then the rain hit and they were off and full of milk again. We will try the Dolomite if I can find it here in Mexico.
Thanks so
Much!
Holly
 
Kate Downham
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I hope the dolomite helps if you can find it.

Pokeroot works for treating mastitis. Peppermint might also help with drying them off - I know with humans it's not recommended to drink peppermint tea when breastfeeding because it can dry up the supply a bit, so maybe it has the same effect on goats.
 
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