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Breeding virgin milker goats

 
pollinator
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Does anyone know of any consciuos efforts to breed virgin milker goats? I'm assuming that this wonderful quality is hereditary.

My old (Finnish landrace) doe is a virgin milker. We have had her for about seven years now (I think) and she was 4 when we bought her. I've got to  know many goat owners but none of them had virgin milkers so I realized this quality might not be overly common in the Finnish goat. That's when we decided we wanted our doe to have kids so she would pass this quality on. After a few attempts she gave birth to two female kids and it looks like they might be virgin milkers too! They're only 1.5 years old now so I can't say for sure but their udders did swell slightly last spring. Of course we didn't try to milk them then as they weren't fully grown then. The owner of the buck said she's never had any virgin milkers in her herd and she's kept goats for a long time. So if our girls really are virgin milkers this quality probably comes from the mother's side only.

My doe starts giving milk when the grass greens in May and the yield quickly goes up to about one litre per day. It was more when she was younger. She gives milk all summer but in about October the yield goes down to half a litre per day. As the pasture season turns to hay season she gives less and less milk. In the dead of the winter it is maybe 0.1 liters but it is impossible to get her to go completely dry. In the winter I only milk her once every two to three days.

What's great about virgin milkers is of course that there's no need to think about what to do with all those kids. Also, I like the fact that she gives 1-2 liters per day, because that's just about the right amount for us and we only have to milk her once a day. I cannot think of a more ideal animal for a vegetarian backyard farmer than a virgin milker goat!

 
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Milk production is both genetic and environmental. Take any mammal, massage her udders and nipples every few hours for a few weeks, and she may start producing milk. Some males even produce milk under those circumstances. Diet can also play a role. For example, alfalfa is fed to cows because it is believed to be a galactagogue. Other common galactagogues include fenugreek, fennel, stinging nettle, milk thistle.

The ago old key to breeding animals, is that "It's in the blood". So if you want more goats that produce milk without having kids, then a good place to look for that trait would be among offspring who's mothers or grandmothers produced milk without being pregnant. (Or perhaps who get pregnant only once in their life, and continue to produce milk for years after.
 
Nina Jay
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I've heard about that trick too, so one summer I tried to increase her milk production by milking her twice a day, but there was no difference compared to previous summer. I've also tried feeding her more grain and alfalfa in the fall to keep up the milk production (while continuing to milk her every day) but the milk yield goes down anyway. I've pretty much come to the conclusion that she gives what she gives and there isn't anything I can do. What seems to trigger the milk production in her case is fresh green grass, even tiny amounts in the spring will do it. The udder starts swelling and hello daily milking again! As the quality of grass goes down in the fall, so does the milk yield. Even feeding her haylage instead of hay makes no difference.
 
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Nina Jay wrote:Does anyone know of any consciuos efforts to breed virgin milker goats? I'm assuming that this wonderful quality is hereditary.

My old (Finnish landrace) doe is a virgin milker. We have had her for about seven years now (I think) and she was 4 when we bought her. I've got to  know many goat owners but none of them had virgin milkers so I realized this quality might not be overly common in the Finnish goat. That's when we decided we wanted our doe to have kids so she would pass this quality on. After a few attempts she gave birth to two female kids and it looks like they might be virgin milkers too! They're only 1.5 years old now so I can't say for sure but their udders did swell slightly last spring. Of course we didn't try to milk them then as they weren't fully grown then. The owner of the buck said she's never had any virgin milkers in her herd and she's kept goats for a long time. So if our girls really are virgin milkers this quality probably comes from the mother's side only.

My doe starts giving milk when the grass greens in May and the yield quickly goes up to about one litre per day. It was more when she was younger. She gives milk all summer but in about October the yield goes down to half a litre per day. As the pasture season turns to hay season she gives less and less milk. In the dead of the winter it is maybe 0.1 liters but it is impossible to get her to go completely dry. In the winter I only milk her once every two to three days.

What's great about virgin milkers is of course that there's no need to think about what to do with all those kids. Also, I like the fact that she gives 1-2 liters per day, because that's just about the right amount for us and we only have to milk her once a day. I cannot think of a more ideal animal for a vegetarian backyard farmer than a virgin milker goat!



Wow that is great that the young does have inherited this quality! It would solve a lot of problems for many people.

None of mine have been virgin milkers, but I did dry one of my Toggenburgs off once in the autumn due to an udder injury, and then in the spring her udder began to fill up again. She never seemed to fill up as much as she used to, she would give around 500ml every second day instead of the 1 litre per milking that she used to give, but I wasn't feeding barley then, or trying to milk more frequently, so maybe if I'd been trying these tricks her supply may have increased.

It's pretty common in British Alpines after they have been kidded once they will either come back into milk every spring, or can just be kept in milk the whole time without needing to freshen again.
 
pollinator
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I  have one as well....
I dont know if this is linked, but she is not as easy to milk as most goats. (though some goats with kids can also be difficult to milk too)

Little place for the hands to milk and narrow milk canals are also genetic, so I wonder if it is independant or linked in her case. We'll see the difference, she is supposed to have kids this spring!

The fact that the quantity is less can be a drawback too, according to the size of the familly and the many different things you want to do from milk! I would be glad to have too much and use is for the skin and more.
 
Nina Jay
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That's very interesting, Xisca! Thanks for sharing!

My virgin milker also happens to be easy to milk, two excellent qualities in one doe! She has big teats and it's easy to fit your hands around for milking. However, one half of the udder is much bigger than the other, about twice as big. It gives a weird one-sided look to the udder. I used to think this was due to uneven milking in the past. But now that she's given birth to two daughters and they BOTH have exactly the same kind of udders as their mother, I see it's definitely a genetic trait.

Both halves are good to milk, but the bigger half is extra easy because the teat is huge. It's great for training beginners to milking! I let the trainee milk the big teat while I simultaneously milk the smaller teat. That keeps the milk flowing nicely and the beginner can get the hang of it. As soon as they get some milk from the big teat it's time to start practising milking with both hands.

I used to have another doe that had very small teats and she was a pain in the neck to milk, I gave it up and let the kids suck it all... Since then I've heard the trick about using a human breast pump for these difficult-to-milk does and that might have been a good solution. However, the doe in question was also very shy, bullied by my other doe (the virgin milker) and nervous as a consequence. I sold the nervous doe and her kids to a new home where they're much happier, and kept the bully We get along fine even though she does try to bully me occasionally too
 
Xisca Nicolas
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My boyfriend has large hands but learned milking as a child, and he knows how to milk with "opened hands", which means you put the thumb up and do not use it for milking.

When you milk with closed hands, some people manage with 3 fingers, but I cannot because I cannot separate the last 2 without it being painful!

So thanks, now I know that the difficulty was not linked at all to not having been bred before!

This caraceristic of the size of the teats seems to not be possible to see on the young goat, thats a pity!

The difference between sides: I have this in a sheep. And those critters are not so easy to milk as goats! They tend to pee so it is better to milk from the side. I have even milked "upside down" by keeping her between my legs!
 
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