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!