Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Dairy Free?

Despite my best efforts, the milk supply did not increase in the dairy goat. Increased grain, increased calcium supplements, emptying the udder more often, I tried it all. She has turned 7 years old this year and I think her body is winding down. This is also the first year she's thrown a single. So I am making the call to stop milking and let her use her energy to just raise the little doeling.

In the next few days I'll be doing a lot of thinking and number crunching to decide if I will try breeding her again or if she will go into retirement. I have always thought does were retired around age 9 but I also have to take into consideration that she was a sale barn goat and wasn't in the best health when she first came here. She's been an excellent keeper and will live out her days here as a companion goat no matter what I decide.

If Ronnie does go into retirement, I'm not sure if I'll ever have a dairy goat again. The doeling looks more like the pygmy buck every day and will likely not be a milker. In order to get a dairy goat, I would have to buy one or keep breeding Ronnie to try for a dairy doeling. Even if I do breed her again, it will be two years before we would be getting milk from the kid- two years of feeding Ronnie, bucks, and kids with no return except meat from bucklings. On the other hand, we could buy a quality doe or wait it out. Then we would also have time to rig up some kind of milking shelter (hello- milking in the rain sucks!) and a kid pen to separate doe and kids at night.

So many thoughts! Sometimes the decisions are tough! Homesteading on a small property allows less room for mistakes. I can't keep "extras" until I know which way is going to work best. I've learned that putting a little more time, effort, and money into an animal pays off in big ways when there's little wiggle room but management plays just as big a part. Wise decisions matter!

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4 comments:

  1. It pays to buy a good dairy goat. A doe from excellent milking lines might cost you more, but will yield so much more milk in the long run. And a buck from strong milk genetics is Half Your Herd they say! Check out his mama's udder before you buy him. He will improve your herd's milking capabilities, which makes him oh so valuable. My first doe was pretty, but not very productive. Her daughter's udder was an improvement with larger teats and a longer lactation. It's a learning experience for sure. Best wishes for a very dairy herd!

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    1. Thanks! I really want to get it right and I value the advice!

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  2. Did you read Thoughts from Frank and Fern Blog? First I miss it but they left it up for a resource and she has great honest information about the reality of milking.

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    1. It ended just as I was discovering them. I'll have to go check it out, THANKS!

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