Friday, February 24, 2012

Answering a Question

Herdog had a good question and so I'm going to answer it in this post. The question was.

" ha hope you don't mind a few questions. I never had goats and was wondering...with 3 (or 4) little ones feeding, how much milk do you have to "play" with? How much milk will a fresh dairy goat produce? She look's Big (don't tell her I said that- ok to tell her she 'glowing' hee hee)! Is she going to make it till the 19th?"
 Chicory hasn't started complaining yet, but she will, moaning and groaning so I expect her to make it to the 19th. The two pregnancies before this, she went 151 days from the time she bred until the day she had her kids. 145 to 150 is the average gestation for a goat. Chicory's first pregnancy she had one doe and since she has had triplets, two does (girls) and one buck (boy) with each set.

In dairy goats, two kids is common and three not unusual. Four on the other hand has happened to us once in 25 years of having dairy goats.  In small breeds of goat like Kinder and Pygmys, four is not unusual. In dairy goats, you don't want four. The kids are smaller and often weaker. The doe won't have enough milk and at least one kid will need supplemented with a bottle of milk from another doe or formula from the feed store - costly.

 Our goats after they turn two most always have triplets. It is partly genetics and a great deal health and diet. Three embryos may start to develop but if the doe doesn't have the nutritional level to sustain the development of three, one will be absorbed or even two.

As for the amount of milk we will get, nothing for a while. A high quality goat's body will gear up to feed as many kids as she produces, within reason. The demand due to more kids nursing also ups production. Keep in mind this all is dependent on adequate nutrition levels to do this. Three kids takes a lot of feed given to mama to produce adequate milk levels. Three kids and a high milk production is wearing on a does body and so I leave my goats with a three month break before kidding instead of the two months that is advised.
 Our goats are genetically chosen to produce large amounts of milk.  Chicory is a Nubian and her breed is the Jersey's so to speak. They produce lots of cream but not as much milk. The Saanens such as Leta here in the above picture, are the Holsteins of goats and produce lots of milk. Our Saanens gave 3/4 to 1 gallon of milk twice a day.
We no longer have Saanens and I miss them but due to my interest in making sour cream, cheese, buttermilk, ghea, butter etc. we've switched to Nubians. Chicory is a gem of a Nubian as she produces 3/4 a gallon of milk twice a day at the height of her cycle and near the end of her lactation last year, she gave us 1 1/2 quarts of heavy, heavy cream for every 1 1/2 gallon of milk we ran through the milk separator. That means we ran the milk through once and the cream from that separation through once more.

Her milk production dropped down to a half a gallon or a little bit less twice a day in early November but it was mostly cream. Chicory was the daughter of the heaviest milk producer in a show herd known for producing does with their stars in milking. Stars being a way of judging milk production in registered dairy goat herds.

The kids will be weaned at 2 months old give or take a little time depending on how big they are by then and how much hay and grain they are eating. But by 4 to six weeks, depending on how many kids the doe has, we are milking her and keeping part of the milk for ourselves. If we don't the doe's milk production will drop because the kids are eating more and more hay and grain and drinking less and less milk.

Demand for milk equates to the amount of milk produced by a dairy animal - up to a point. That is why some cow dairies milk three times a day. This high demand on a cows body wears her out much faster than the traditional twice a day. 

In the race to produce more and more, cows are bred to produce much much higher levels of milk production and are given growth hormones. Despite all this, a cow can't produce more nutrients no matter how much she spends her time eating. This means she is simply producing more white colored water instead of vitamin rich milk.

That is why I breed for high producing milk production but keep it within reason and definitely no growth hormones.

I have probably way over answered your question. LOL Hopefully it was informative though. 

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