April 2, 2012

Dry Spell (A Goat Post)


Neither Dan nor I are milk drinkers. We do however, love yogurt. A favorite quick breakfast at our house is a bowl of cold cereal with yogurt instead of milk. We like cheese too (mozzarella making I'm pretty confident with, hard cheese on the other hand.... ) We like having cream for coffee, butter, or whipping. The rest I cook with (especially baking), and feed to the chickens, Kris, and Riley when he's in the mood. I'm also thinking future pig feed.

In the goat world, does are typically dried up two months before their kidding due dates. This is to give their bodies a chance to put their reserves into the needs of the growing kid(s) inside them. It means though, that when they are dry, so is the milk jug. Even after kidding, if they suckle their own or their milk is bottle fed back to their kids, there is no milk for the goatherd.

I couldn't imagine not having yogurt however, so I froze about a dozen half-gallons for our dry spell. For yogurt, this is working okay, sort of. I recall having successfully frozen half-gallon cartons of homogenized, pasteurized, organic (cows') milk in the past, but my raw goats milk separates. Not just into cream and milk again, but into a top white layer and a bottom clear, whey like layer. I shake it well before making yogurt, but the result is that the bottom of the yogurt jar is more grainy in texture. Kris and Riley didn't mind, so of course no waste. On the other hand, it takes up a lot of room in the freezer, and there is the occasional misfortune of breaking a half-gallon glass jar. I don't think I'll freeze milk again this summer.

One plus for Kinders, is that they are aseasonal breeders. All (at least I think all) the dairy breeds of goats are seasonal breeders. They go into heat when the days get shorter, and kid in the spring. Other breeds like Pygmies, can be bred at other times of the year. Kinders inherit this quality, so it is possible to have both spring and fall kiddings. That means a year round milk supply.

Another possibility, is that of "milking through." Some does can produce an uninterrupted supply of milk for up to two years, if not re-bred. Production might decrease some when she's in heat, but can usually be brought back up again. This in fact, is a technique that some dairy breeders practice. Though it means fewer kids, it is less stress for the doe in the long run and can increase her productive life. It also means a year round supply of milk.

I just read recently, that for breeds that frequently birth multiples, like Kinders, carrying the weight of quads or quints year after year takes it's toll on the doe's body. Eventually she can end up with hind leg weakness. This seems another good reason to alternate a doe's kidding years and milk her through in the year's she isn't bred.

During our dry spell as we have to rely on the milk I froze for this time of year, I'm mulling the possibilities over. For not being milk drinkers, it's amazing how much we rely on our goats' milk. Not only for us, but I find my chickens' eggs have stronger shells when they drink it regularly. Plus raw goat milk is good for our growing puppy.

For another take on milking through, the following is a link to an article in Dairy Goat Journal:


31 comments:

Clint Baker said...

I remember our milk cow went on a dry spell every know and again!

pilgrimscottage said...

Love the photo of the goats together. Love goat's milk. I'm a drinker while my husband is not, but he does like anything I make from it. My dogs love it. Can't beat having goats.

pilgrimscottage said...

By the way, you have a great post and carry some very useful links. Thanks!!

Theresa said...

That is a very sweet picture Leigh! Yogurt is so good for dogs, especially ones that have had a course of antibiotics. Puts the good stuff back in the tummy for digestion. I'm not a milk drinker either, but I do love some chocolate milk in my coffee with a little sugar once in a while. ;)

Leigh said...

Clint, I lived once on a place that had a cow. I never thought about milk management at the time. I just knew I had morning milking duty!

Pilgrimscottage, thank you and you're welcome! The photo is of my 2 does, Surprise and Jasmine. They love like sisters and fight like sisters too. :)

Theresa, good point about yogurt and antibiotics. We gave it to Kris every day he was treated for "Kennel Cough." He really loved that yogurt. Hadn't thought about chocolate milk in coffee, sounds yummy.

Lisa B. said...

This information was very helpful, I've been thinking about getting a Nigerian Dwarf goat.

Portland Chimney Repair said...

Great blog, informative and up to date. Bookmarking your page. Thanks and more power!

Natalie said...

I have frozen yogurt quite successfully in the past. If the milk takes up too much space in the freezer, you could maybe make the yogurt when you have extra milk and then freeze the yogurt.
We are in the planning stages of our eventual homestead (a five year plan that has been a five year plan for 3 years now due to some unexpected house repairs and decreased work hours) and this information is so very useful. I like the idea of alternating the breeding years for the mamas.

Michelle said...

Hi Leigh,
Nigerian Dwarfs and Nubians(I'm pretty sure about the Nubians) will also breed year round. We, too, have been dry for a LONG time! I was having a teribly stressful fall complete with illness and made the decision to dry everyone off in November. Man, that was a long time ago! Perle kidded two weeks ago Saturday, but her milk is still funky with colostrum as of Saturday. I plan to try again on Wednesday.

Carolyn Renee said...

I don't know why I haven't considered milking through. I have a doe that does NOT like to dry up but I stop milking her when she's got 3 months to kidding. Maybe I'll try that this year if she's still putting out milk enough for us. Makes sense, producing kids does take a toll on the body, so why not give her a year off and just milk through. Thanks for the idea!

Linda said...

One plus for Kinders, is that they are seasonal breeders. All (at least I think all) the dairy breeds of goats are seasonal breeders.

Aw, but Nigerian Dwarfs are dairy goats and they are not seasonal, they bred year round. They give a decent amount of milk - about 1 1/2 to 2 quarts a day sometimes at peak more! That is an amazing amount of milk for such a small goat. The butterfat is the highest of all dairy goats including the Nubian. They are super cute and can be milked for 10 months and some even milk for two to three years before being bred again. Their down side is they have small teats compared to full size goats. But then they also eat half or less what a full size goat eats...

Florida Farm Girl said...

I've actually never had goat's milk to drink, but I do love goat cheese. And, I won't use anything but handmade goat's milk soap. Guess I'll keep folks like you in business, cause I have no desire to keep the goats themselves!

Leigh said...

Lisa, Nigerian Dwarf's are a wonderful choice, especially if space is a consideration. They give very rich milk and have great personalities.

Portland, thanks!

Natalie, I know all about those plans! That's a thought about the yogurt, though I'm not sure the it would take up any less room. The advantage might be if freezing didn't change the texture. Can frozen yogurt be used to culture the next batch, do you know?

Michelle, no, Nubians are seasonal breeders. I wasn't sure about the Nigerians though. I guess the question then would be, do they have a shortened milking season due to their smaller size? I hope things are going better for you now.

Carolyn, well, it just isn't standard practice. Neither of my Nubians has actually dried up either, even though for one it's been months since I last milked her. Makes it hard to tell if she's making her bag!

Linda, no, I wasn't sure about the Nigerians. You have answered a question about the possibility of milking them through though. Sounds like it depends on the individual. I think Nigerians are an excellent choice for a lot of people.

FFG, well I know those goat owners appreciate your business! :)

Donna OShaughnessy said...

We used to raise goats but the hogs took over about three years ago. I for one loved gots milk cheese but not fresh to drink. On the other hand we drink tons of cows milk (raw every year). With 14 of them we never have a "dry" period. Our milk goes to us, our dogs, the cats, the chickens, the hogs, our customers, into our soaps...How really do folks survive who have neither a cow or goat ?!

Mama Pea said...

Years ago when I was freezing extra goat milk to augment my breast milk for our baby daughter, I found that the raw milk needed to be pasteurized before freezing to keep it from separating. That worked really well although probably some of the benefits of the raw milk were lost in the pasteurization.

Amish Stories said...

Never tried yogurt in my cereal, sounds like i should try that maybe. Richard

A Wild Thing said...

I really have to fight the urge to aquire a goat, I love goat milk on cereal and all of the above, but living alone has it's drawbacks, all the work lies on my shoulders...and do I have the time, but all the new babies were boinging and bucking in a pasture belonging to an Amish family, I pulled over to watch and smile...so cute!

NancyDe said...

Still jealous - no dairy animals (our sheep are sadly difficult to milk - tiny little teats)!

Leigh said...

Donna, I need to add goat milk soap to my list!

Mama Pea, I'll have to try that next year (this summer). I probably won't actually be able to have enough does to milk through for a year or two. Right now it's only the Nubians, which I want to use to make more Kinders. :)

Richard, we really like it, though maybe it's an acquired taste. Most cereals are too sweet, so this really helps balance that.

Sharon, I would be hard put to not get a goat! You're right about it being another chore though.

Nancy, I've wondered how folks milk sheep. Sheep milk cheeses are supposed to be delicious.

MamaTea said...

Such an informative post - especially for my family who is starting to figure out what we want to do as far as goats. Thanks for all the information!

Sherri B. said...

A very interesting post, we don't have goats but I still like hearing all about yours. I like how you give the chickens the milk, I gave mine same past date sour cream and they went after it...looked funny too with white beaks haha! xo

Michelle said...

Leigh, The first year I had Perle she kidded in February and I dried her off the last week of December with no noticable drop in production, so a ten month lactation should not be a problem at all.

Leigh said...

Amy, I'm sure you're finding out that as with all things, there are as many ideas and philosophies about goats as you can shake a stick at! So much of it is based on commercial, and production and profit goals though. That may or may not be applicable to the homesteader. For us, I need it simple, manageable, and as self-sustaining as possible.

Sherri, chickens do love dairy! The least favorite in our barnyard is whey from cheese making. They really prefer cream. :)

Michelle, it may be a good system for you to try too then. Certainly seems like the best way to go for year round milk! Plus, there's less kids to deal with all at once. Those multiples can really be a handful. I think, well, if I keep 6 Kinder does and they all have triplets, that would be 18 kids at one shot!

* Crystal * said...

Hate dry spells! :( My kids and are milk drinkers & store bought milk is no proper substitute.

We freeze milk with no separation. I sterilize gatorade/water bottles, filter fresh milk & put them directly in the freezer. If I wait a day, or even a few hours to get it in the freezer, I have some separation. When I thaw, I thaw quickly by placing the bottles in hot, hot water and use right after thawing.... If I let it sit in the fridge or counter to thaw slowly, I got separation. I like smaller bottles so I don't thaw more than I can use right after thawing.

My lamanchas cycle pretty much year round, though the cycles are stronger August-March. The miniature Alpines (crossing ND with standard sized goats) also cycle year round......

I have heard Kinders will cycle year round, so hopefully you'll have your very own Kinder does sometime in the future.

Susan said...

This is such good information, Leigh. Thank you for providing it. I am planning on jumping into the dairy goat pond next spring - after breeding Sage late this year. I was wondering if I could go every other year, as far as breeding her and still having milk. It now seems possible.

Anna said...

Love that picture, adorable! I also enjoyed your post. We, too, are trying to figure out how to get a year round supply of milk. You gave some good ideas to consider.

Leigh said...

Crystal, thank you for that! Never thought to put freshly strained milked directly into the freezer. I will have to try that because it will be a couple of years before we get to a milking through situation. Glad to know about the lamanchas and mini-Alpines too. Seems all the mini breeds inherit that trait!

Susan, its' wonderful having baby goats an milk! Breeding every other year seems very possible. In the end, it will depend on her. :)

Anna thank! Yes, that photo was pretty neat. My girls do act very close sometimes. Then sometimes they fight like crazy too! Seems like there are a couple possibilities for year round milk. I enjoyed the milking break, but not the break from the milk. :)

Michelle said...

I've always been told Nubians were a breed that would cycle year round, and I'm from the south. Makes me wonder if climate plays a bigger role than genetics in thei breeding business. LaManchas are only supposed to come in heat in the fall, but I had one do so last spring. We had a very odd spring that went on and on, and my friend who is a breeded thought that was why it happened. Crystal's comment just confirms that theory.

I've thought abut milking through, and I would love to be able to. Right now I am working on udder development, but if my girls get to a place where I am happy with their production, I would definitely pursue that avenue. :-D

Leigh said...

Michelle, I've never heard that about Nubians, I confess. I live in the South and can tell you that my two Nubians only cycle through their heats starting in late summer, through late winter (about July or August through January). There may be exceptions though! I recently read that it's day length that will trigger it, so some breeders keep their does indoors and control the amount of light they're exposed to to force ovulation.

Yes, the milking through sounds great. It will be a few years before I'll be there as well. :)

Karen Anne said...

Hind leg weakness, makes me think calcium deficiency. Just a guess...

Leigh said...

Karen Anne, that would be a good guess, I agree. Interesting you should say that because calcium is one of the things I'm studying right now. Since the observation about hind leg weakness following years of carrying quads and quints comes through someone who is experienced and knowledgeable in goat care and has been raising Kinders since the 1980s, I do put some weight in what she says. Even so, proper calcium is key.