Getting Started With The Best Goats For Milk: Essential Tips for New Dairy Farmers

Best Goats For Milk

When it comes to milking goats, there are several breeds that stand out for their exceptional milk production. These breeds not only produce high-quality milk but also have a gentle temperament, making them ideal for small-scale dairy farming.

The best goats for milk include the following breeds:

  • Nigerian Dwarf: Known for its high butterfat content in its milk, making it perfect for cheese-making.
  • LaMancha: Produces milk with a high butterfat content and has a unique earless appearance.
  • Nubian: Renowned for its rich and creamy milk, with a slightly higher butterfat content compared to other breeds.
  • Alpine, Oberhasli, and Toggenberg: Known for their high milk production, making them excellent choices for commercial dairies.
  • Saanen: Produces large volumes of milk.
  • Sable: Known for its excellent milk production and docile nature.

In summary, these breeds offer a range of qualities that make them highly desirable for those involved in goat milk production.

Recommended Number Of Goats To Start With

If you’re new to milking goats, it’s advisable to begin with a minimum of three goats. This not only reduces stress and sickness in goats but also ensures a consistent milk supply. Moreover, the presence of multiple goats facilitates the development of a social structure, promoting their overall well-being. Nevertheless, it is crucial to have sufficient space, resources, and time to adequately care for the chosen number of goats.

  • Starting with at least three goats is recommended for beginners in milking goats.
  • Keeping multiple goats helps prevent stress and sickness in goats and ensures a stable milk supply.
  • Having multiple goats enables them to form a social structure, which contributes to their overall well-being.

Note: It is important to ensure that you have enough space, resources, and time to properly care for the number of goats you decide to start with.

Separating Bucks And Does

One crucial aspect of managing a milking goat herd is separating bucks from does. Bucks, or male goats, can be aggressive towards does and may pose a safety risk. It’s necessary to keep bucks in a separate enclosure to prevent unwanted mating and potential harm to the does. A well-designed buck pen that provides adequate space and shelter is essential for the safety and well-being of both bucks and does.

Training Does For Milking

Milking goats can be a pleasurable experience, particularly when the does are well-trained to the milk stand. Training does to the milk stand entails acclimatizing them to the routine and making sure they are at ease during milking. Gradually introduce the does to the milking stand using positive reinforcement, like treats, and provide a calm and secure environment. With patience and consistency, most does can be successfully trained to the milk stand, enabling efficiency and stress-free milking sessions.

Breeding Seasons And Signs Of Heat

Understanding the breeding seasons and signs of heat in goats is essential for successful breeding and milk production. Most goats go into heat in the fall, except for Nigerian Dwarf goats, which breed year-round. Signs of a doe being in heat include tail wagging, vocalizing, discharge, and swelling. It’s necessary to track these signs to determine the optimal time for breeding and ensure successful conception.

Pregnancy And Caring For Newborn Goats

Goat pregnancy typically lasts about 150 days. During this time, it’s crucial to provide proper care and nutrition to the pregnant doe to ensure the health of both the mother and her offspring. Newborn goats, or kids, should stay with their mother for the first two weeks, benefiting from the essential antibodies present in colostrum. Proper shelter, nutrition, and medical care should be provided to ensure the healthy growth and development of the kids.

Milking Routine And Duration

Establishing a consistent milking routine is essential for maintaining milk production and the overall health of milking goats.

Here are some important points to consider:

  • Milking should be done in the morning before allowing the mother to nurse the baby during the day.
  • This routine helps ensure that the kids receive ample milk for their growth while still leaving enough milk for human consumption.
  • Most does can produce milk for about ten months before drying off naturally, but this can vary based on individual goats and management practices.
  • After weaning the kids at around 60 to 90 days, milking the mother twice a day is recommended to maintain a steady milk supply.

Remember to establish a consistent routine, prioritize the needs of both mother and kids, and practice good management techniques to ensure the success of milking goats.

  • Consistent milking routine
  • Morning milking
  • Ample milk for kids’ growth
  • Enough milk for human consumption
  • Natural drying off after ten months
  • Weaning at 60-90 days
  • Twice a day milking after weaning.

Other Goat Breeds For Homesteading

While we have already discussed the best goats for milk, there are several other goat breeds that are suitable for homesteading purposes. These breeds include:

  • Pygmy goats: These goats are small in size and are known for their friendly and playful nature. They can make great pets and can also be used for weed control.
  • Nubian goats: Nubian goats are known for their high milk production and have a longer breeding season compared to other breeds. They are also known for their distinct long ears.
  • Rangeland goats: Rangeland goats are well-adapted to outdoor grazing and can thrive in various climates and terrains. They are often used for brush control and can be low-maintenance.
  • Pygora goats: These goats are a cross between Pygmy and Angora goats. They produce both milk and mohair, making them a great choice for homesteaders interested in fiber production.
  • Cashmere goats: Cashmere goats produce the highly prized cashmere wool. They require extra care and attention to maintain the quality of their wool but can be a lucrative investment for those interested in fiber production.
  • Angora goats: Angora goats are known for their long and lustrous mohair. They require regular shearing and can be a great addition to a homestead focused on fiber production.
  • Boer goats: Boer goats are large-sized goats that are primarily raised for meat production. They have a high feed conversion rate and can adapt to various environments.
  • Tennessee goats: Tennessee goats are a hardy breed that can tolerate tough conditions. They are known for their resistance to diseases and parasites and are often used for brush control and meat production.
  • Spanish goats: Spanish goats are an adaptable breed that can thrive in different climates. They are known for their hardiness and resistance to diseases and parasites.

Each of these breeds has its own unique characteristics and can serve different purposes on a homestead, from meat production to fiber and brush control. It’s important to research each breed’s specific needs and purposes before deciding which breed best suits your homesteading goals.

In conclusion, getting started with milking goats requires choosing the best goats for milk, such as Nigerian Dwarf, LaMancha, Nubian, Alpine, Oberhasli, Toggenberg, Saanen, and Sable breeds. It’s recommended to start with at least three goats and separate bucks from does to ensure harmony within the herd. Training does to the milk stand, understanding breeding seasons and signs of heat, and providing proper care for pregnant does and newborn goats are crucial for successful dairy farming. Establishing a consistent milking routine and considering other goat breeds suitable for homesteading purposes can further enhance your milking goat venture. Happy goat milking!

Which goat gives the best quality milk?

The Saanen goat is known for producing some of the best quality milk. With its lower butterfat content, the milk from Saanen goats tends to be lighter and less "goaty" in flavor compared to Swiss breeds like Toggenburgs and Alpines. Additionally, Saanens have a mild and smooth taste that is highly sought after by milk enthusiasts. However, if you are looking for a sweeter and higher butterfat milk, Nubians and Nigerian Dwarfs would be the ideal choice, as they are known for their exceptionally sweet and creamy milk.

How many goats should a beginner start with?

For a beginner, it is recommended to start with a minimum of two goats. Goats thrive in a social environment, and having a companion allows them to fulfill their natural inclination to bond and interact with one another. Whether you choose two does, a doe and a wether, or a buck and a doe depends on your readiness to establish a small herd. Regardless of the combination, providing at least two goats ensures they have companionship and prevents them from becoming bored or lonely in their surroundings. With their social, curious, gentle, independent, and intelligent nature, goats are best enjoyed in pairs or more.

How do you milk a goat for beginners?

For beginners looking to milk a goat, it is important to approach the task with patience and care. Begin by gently cleaning the goat's udder and teats with warm water and a clean cloth. Position yourself comfortably behind the goat, with a bucket placed beneath the udder to collect the milk. Next, using your thumb and forefinger, gently pinch the top of the teat where it meets the udder, forming a seal. This prevents the milk from flowing back into the udder. Then, using your remaining fingers, gently press and release the teat to extract the milk. Remember to maintain a rhythm and be gentle to ensure a smooth milking process for both you and the goat.

Can you drink goat milk straight from the goat?

While drinking goat milk straight from the goat may seem appealing in terms of freshness, it is not recommended due to potential health risks. Consuming raw goat milk can expose you to harmful bacteria such as E.coli, S. aureus, salmonella, and even tick-borne diseases like encephalitis. These risks arise because raw goat milk is not pasteurized, a process that kills harmful bacteria. To ensure safety and minimize the risk of infection, it is advisable to heat the milk to a temperature that kills any potential pathogens before consumption, or opt for pasteurized goat milk available in stores.