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first time goat milking

hunter miller
Posts: 60
Location: Central Pa
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Okay so im having a lot of first this year including milking my goats. So my first time freshening of my Nigerian dwarf had her kids 2 weeks ago an im gonna start to keep her away at night an milking in the morning before work, but from the little interaction ive had so far she is difficult to milk by hand so i used a design for a milker using a foodsaver to create a vacuum and it worked but man i barley got half a cup from the milking before she seemed to be empty. I didnt really try to work the udder so she had plenty held back for the kids but still from what im seeing everyone else is getting much more then me and the bags on the other goats of the same breed always seem to be much larger. So im wondering if its my feed, i have been giving them free choice of hay and giving them a feed in the eveings its a bag feed but has the minerals and proteins (not just a sweet feed) and on nice days when i get home i have been putting them onto fresh grass as they have their paddock eaten down well, but my faimly farm ran out of alfalfa hay and i had not been feeding it as free choice as i have my buck an wether still in with my does and i read that feeding alfalfa can cause IT problems with males so i planned on free feeding it when they were in their new pen.
So after looking into it an some basic knowledge of dairy cattle i decided to start feeding alfalfa but as we are out of hay bales i bought the pellets from TSC they only had the horse ones but i have been putting a pale out for them not free feeding as they still think its the dinner feed an eat it like crazy trying to wean them into it, an i have started adding more oats into the evening feed as this seems to be a way to help increase the milk production. I know its her first freshening and she should get bigger with the next freshening but still seems very under productive. Is there anything else i can do to increase the amount of milk she will produce?
Kate Michaud
Posts: 165
Location: Zone 4b Ontario, Canada
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Good morning Hunter.

Having had milk goats for the past 22 years, may I suggest you leave the new kids on the new mother for a month before milking.  A new mom's udder will develop better with the babies left on for the first month.  Their suckling will increase the flow with their primary source of nutrition being met.  They will naturally strip the mom that increases the production in a way hand milking cannot.  Then you may consider milking the mom once a day, leaving the babies on during the day, and separating over night.  Mom and babies will do better in the long run.  There are occasions when a new mom just hasn't enough production to spare, and we must forgo milking altogether to ensure that both mom and the babies stay healthy.

Cheers!  K
Kate Downham
gardener & author
Posts: 2534
Location: Tasmania
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Machine milking can damage the udder if not done in the right way, so I'd be worrying a.bit about doing a DIY one.

I also agree that 2 weeks is too soon. I leave mine for 3 weeks.

Was your goat from dairying lines or bred for being a pet? This will impact how much milk she gives. Some goats from dairying lines do just give more milk or less milk than others too, so it can be luck of the draw.
Roy Edward Long
Posts: 127
Location: North Idaho
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I always allowed the babies to nurse until they were weaning age 10 weeks before I would try to milk any of my goats.

The doe will produce according to demand, the babies suckling all of the time creates a demand and the doe increases production to meet the ever increasing demand.  

As for the makeshift vacuum not sure I would advise that myself.  But then again I made a breast pump for my wife 26 years ago so I probably have no room to talk.

As for the milking you mentioned not working the udder, you want to work the udder and work the milk down and you also want to take your time, it takes a little bit for the milk to work down sometimes.  I found that first year milkers generally did not produce all that well and I never had any Nigerian dwarfs that ever produced much at any age.  

Most of my herd was large Saanen mixes cross bred to Alpine, La mancha and Nubians.  The large goats could produce up to 1 1/2 gallons a day each but my Nigerians and Nigerian crosses generally maxed out at about 1 quart a day being milked twice a day.  As the Nigerian blood became ever diminished down to about 1/4 Nigerian and 3/4 full size the milk production went up to match that of the full sized goats.

As for milking the Nigerians, I had a heck of a time with that, I have large hands and couldn't hardly pull it off with those tiny little teats.  Luckily I had my wife and six kids who ranged in age from age 2 up to milk the Nigerians.  The other issue with the Nigerians is that they commonly sat down while we were trying to milk them, I literally had to hold many of them up while they were milked to keep the udder out of the bucket.  The other challenge was that they are so short it was tough to even fit a bucket under them and even on the milk stand the wife had double over in her wheel chair to get under there.

How much milk are you looking to get a day?
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