Raising Goats for Milk
There are different breeds of goats that are used for milk production. Many breeds of goats are well suited for producing milk though each has it’s own benefits and considerations. Many people are not aware that goats are not only kept for their milk as some farmers choose to keep goats for their meat or even fiber. Texas is largest producer in the US of mohair with over 200,000 angora goats being raised for this purpose. For a small farm goats have many great attributes as opposed to cows. They are much smaller, which goes without saying but with that come many benefits. Cow can be dangerous but the average man or woman can certainly handle a goat. They need less land than a cow and do well on rocky or hilly land. Goats are not picky eaters they are known to eat just about anything, though if you plan to use the milk I would watch their diet. When your does are producing milk make sure to give them high quality feed. A mix of grain, alfalfa pellets, and pasture grass is a common diet for milk producing does. Goats produce a great amount of milk for a small animal. A few goats would produce more milk than a family would need. While picking up in popularity, many great cheeses can be made with goats milk.
When raising goats for milk, you need strong fencing. Having your land sectioned off so they don’t overgraze any particular portion is advisable. Portable pens are probably not a bad idea for when you need to check them or administer antibiotics. Shelter helps in giving goats a break from the wind or harsh summer sun. You can have one large shelter or different types. Many people use dog igloos or regular dog houses to serve the purpose of providing shelter. While these are not all the breeds you can raise for milk, they tend to be the most popular; LaMancha, Nubian, Oberhasli, Saanen, Toggenburg, Nigerian Dwarf, and African Pygmy. These breeds have differing percentages of butterfat in their milk and the higher the butterfat the more cheese per gallon you can make.
How many goats do you need for milk?
How many female goats you need will heavily depend on how much milk you consume and the breed of goat you choose. If you live in cooler weather you have more options but the Saanan would be the best choice as with 2 milkings, you could get up to 3 gallons a day. If you live in warmer climates than the Nubian is your best choice, your doe will produce roughly a gallon per day. The nubian produces milk with a high butterfat, which means you can produce more cheese per gallon of milk. Which brings up a good point when considering how many goats you need for milk, don’t forget cheese making. Typically goat cheese is eaten fresh, only a few days only. You can produce a bit over 2 pounds of cheese from a gallon of goat’s milk. Then use the whey in baking or other recipes. There is always some butterfat left after using the curds for cheese. But that is a whole other blog. The point is there are many other uses for goat’s milk than use in cereal.
Milking goats can be time consuming, it can take averagely 12 to 15 minutes to milk a doe. If you only have a few it may not be much of a chore to do by hand. Though there are small scale milking equipment that can be bought fairly cheaply to do this as well. You need to milk your dairy goat only twice a day at 12 hours intervals for good and quality milk production. Before you start milking the goat, you need to clean the goat udders well. Many use warm water followed by dipping the teats in antiseptic solution or iodine. Follow by drying the area completely, the start milking. As small scale farming becomes more popular I believe many will end up turning to the goat for household milk.
Last and certainly not least, your doe must have been pregnant to lactate. It won’t produce any milk otherwise. That is probably a pretty elementary statement but I figure it is at least worth reminding you that you will need to find a buck every year if you don’t plan on having one of your own.