TImeline for milk for YOU

These 2015 kids won't be putting milk in the fridge till 2017.

Goats are so popular right now. I have never had so many people interested in getting goats, or starting their own farm, or want to do what I do here - that I thought it time to write a blog post on what some 'expectation myths' people have about dairy goats. 

Questions range from how much milk does a goat produce? when can i get them pregnant? do you have any does for sale? How much milk will i get?   Do I have to milk twice a day? Do I have to milk every day? What do you feed your goats?  What happens if you don't milk every day? 

Not all goats produce massive quantities of milk. Some goats are slow growers. Some lines will never produce copious quantities. Some start off great and by 4 are a mess. People think that you get a goat, you get it pregnant, you get lots of milk. Reality is it's not that simple.

This post focuses on the first 4 questions:

One of the things I repeat over and over:  THERE IS NO RUSHING IN ANY OF THIS. If you are in a hurry for goats, milk, adding income, find another source. You are not going to get rich selling milk. Ever. And its not easy finding a goat in milk for sale of quality. And if you want to make sure they are healthy to your standards, you have to raise them from kids. Or spend a fortune amassing a herd already in milk from quality breeders around the state, or country.

This is a 24/7 365 endeavor. There is no time off. There are down times. And there are many many, sleepless times. Sometimes you will question your sanity. But no matter what, they are production animals and they need to be tended to all year round. To either prep them for milk, in milk, for gestation, pregnancy, as well, illness, general care, and so on... Unless you have two strings of goats so that one is down while the other is up. Goats and you are always working. Whether you have ONE or 21. Though when you have 21 hopefully you have all this sorted out already.


Let's say you want milk for the fridge. How long will it take?  There are 3 scenarios (well four actually, as one is just buy it).

1. Buy kids grow them to breeding age.
2. Buy already in milk doe.
3. Buy doe already bred.

The first is easy to find. The 2nd and 3rd scenarios not so much. But why? 

Let's go over the time line. 

Those kids in above picture, will not be producing any substantial amounts of milk for me till they are about 3 years old. They won't mature till they are about 3 years old. Mature meaning a gallon of milk a day per goat.

Physically, they are ready to be bred at 11 months. Approximately 90lbs is generally accepted weight and some people can achieve that at 9 months, but not here. Not on a small managed plot of land. Even at 11 months, they are not full grown, so breeding them at that time will get you babies on the ground but not a capacious udder. Not normally. Some lines yes. Most lines no. 

I would rather grow them bigger then push for an udder the body can't handle. (I've done both and its clear to me that they need to grow to maturation to get that capacious udder long term). 

It takes 5 months (gestation) from the 11 month of age, before kids come. 16 months. You now have kids born, you need to feed. Whether or not you pull the kids or keep them on the dam they still need the milk. (or sell them).  add 3-4 months to the16. 

That is 20 months before YOU get milk in the pail just for YOU from that one goat.  Of course during this time you can start 'stealing' milk and or wean early, feed kids less, or even swap out cow milk (or milk replacer $$)  to the kids and you keep the goat milk.... But the milk from one young doe after feeding all kids won't yield you much until those kids are weaned.

3 year, and 2 year old milker. These girls give on average 4-7 lbs. Next year they will give 6-9lbs / day. But this
line just doesn't give more then that. And that is fine, for me, here. They also are never sick, rarely need to be
wormed, and rarely need trimming, and produce well into the 9 year old range. Longterm amazing. Short term in
a rush? not so much. The girl on the left in her ninth month of lactation has kicked in another gear, she increased in
while the rest of the milkers are decreasing. 

If a yearling, she will not be a 'great' milker. And yes, always there are exceptions to this, if you feed more or better, or spend more, and more more more, then i suppose certain young yearlings can put exceptional amounts of milk in the pail but on average?  4-7 lbs a day for the first few months. They even out around 4-5 lbs for the rest of the year. And end of lactation 2-4 lbs. The kids get the most and best. You get the rest.

Remember-- 1 gallon = 8 lbs.  So.. let's say you want to have a gallon a day for your needs. You will need 2 or 3 yearlings (depending on how many kids they produce). Not just one.

If above goat has triplets or quads? ALL that milk goes to the kids till they are weaned.

See how this all revolves around the kids? and people wonder why i sell them so quickly.

6 year old mature milker, she gives on average 8-12 lbs  and will for 6 months of the 10 month lactation.
Then she will even out 6-7. Then 4-5 late lactation. I've kept her in milk on occasion for 2 years. 

So, after all that care and all that management... This is why #2 or even #3 scenario is harder to find. Once invested all that time, money and effort to turn around and sell this milker?  You can see why quality milkers are difficult to find. I never understood one of my mentors when he would say 'I never sell my milkers'.  (yo Joe).

I rarely have ever sold a milker. Or a yearling. I sell kids to people that are not in a hurry. That want raise them to their standards. That understand this isn't a quick or easy process. 

And all above is predicated on everything going perfectly! No illness. No parasitism. No death. Great weather. Grain. Hay. etc. and you being consistent!


Iggy meet Sweet Pea

Iggy is 11 years old. He was my first 'livestock' purchase. He lived in the house for about 4 or 5 years till he knocked over my refrigerator and ate all the contents. He still comes in periodically for a nap. But he knows the minute he knocks something over or re-arranges the furniture out he goes.

Sweet Pea is 6 months old and she so far hasn't figured out how to knock things over. ...yet.

Over the past 2 weeks I've been letting them get closer and closer together. 

Iggy doesn't want anything to do with Sweet Pea.

Sweet Pea wants to make friends with Iggy.


First it was like this. I ignore you, you ignore me. Life is fine. 

Sweet Pea gave in first. Ok there you are. Wanna be friends? 

With the help of the tree, Sweet pea makes her move. Iggy tries to kill the tree.

Here comes the peacemaker... 

Finally, Sweet pea gives up and goes to graze with the goats. 
At least THEY aren't chasing her away any more...

At this rate. Sometime in the next couple years they might become pals...


extraordinarily blessed or good karma

I'm a firm believer that doing good comes back on you. I'm not so sure, when I hear people who use it negatively, as in Karma, will get them in the end, for all those terrible and negative people in the world. I think Karma is meant for do good, be good, receive in return.

Positivity thrown out into the world is far more productive then wishing ill on others. Maybe its like sound waves, they can bounce back. So, make sure its for wishing good, not bad.

I've had an extraordinarily blessed month here. Not in terms of income. The opposite. The months of June, July, August are brutal for this farm. The Snow birds are gone, the green markets over, and the only way to survive is creatively coming up with getting product sold. Creatively feeding animals, and/or going without....On the design front, slow as well. Summer is a time for slowing down and enjoying the outdoors, for most of the country. In Florida, its just avoid the outdoors, altogether. I look forward to September every year. And when everyone starts to think about whats next!

As the school year is starting again, so are the orders, customers coming back from wherever they were, and my emails are full of "whatcha got? " August is that one last hump to get over...

Two things that I won't get too specific about - Karma brownie points coming back, me thinks. This one particular piggy shows up and well....Sweet pea needed spaying. Whether she was staying here or going to a new home there was NO WAY she was leaving here again un-spayed. But the window shrinks the older she gets. I have no cash for doing this... I asked and received. Humbling. And forever grateful to those that did help. (full account on Facebook)

My FPL bill was just out of control high. Still is. And it was snowballing. I don't know how to solve it...But for some reason the Utility gods came down and just wiped it away. I qualified for some grant help and well....  Totally grateful and again humbled by the help. It doesn't solve the problem of high bills. But, it helped me not have to decide feed the animals or feed the monster. Thank you!

Mortgages, ugh! what a nightmare they are. And trying to get it modified? 3 years in the making. Yes, 3 years and 6 applications later.  Finally, getting in on a trial period and the company so far is holding steady. The process is not easy. I had to make a decision at one point to stop paying and that is when I realized all could be lost. But there came a point where I just said FU and that the rising costs of everything ie. insurances, taxes, escrow increasing something had to give. I'm still in the modification "trial" period. But hoping the final contracts come back soon... Hopeful and thankful. (btw mortgages both first and second halved) woot!

The goats... wow. Love my girls. I think they are just doing awesome in this heat. They are consistently producing and we need to thank a certain 'farm girl' that helps out and makes sure the water buckets are always clean and their owner (me) stays on track... In the heat of the summer going into the next kidding season if the girls aren't looking too good this is when I would start considering drying them up. This year I'm going to keep it going to December. Last year I was being rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendix bursting. The year before we just couldn't get a handle on the heat and parasites. This year we're ahead of the eight ball. And with all the issues tackled, I'm hoping we roll into the winter still fat and ready to kid...

This is just one of those posts I want to put down on paper to say Thank you! to the people, friends, universe, karma.... and say to those that wish bad on others, don't. Karma is for good. Wish good things, do good things, and see if the universe shows you some kindness in return. Well, that is how I like to think about it. There are so many more things to be thankful about but i'll stop with these four biggies.

Thank you!


Pot belly pigs

Sweet Pea my house guest

Piggies are the cutest things ever. 

But they remind me of fine wine you need to learn to appreciate and understand. Like training your palette for caviar. Not everyone just one day eats caviar and proclaims LOVE IT... You have to really learn to want to appreciate it, and learn all there is about what makes it so fabulous. Well, the same goes for piggy's.

They just aren't a pet for everyone. When I started researching these wonderful creatures 14 years ago, I learned that they were going to be high maintenance. I think the same holds true today. And now that i'm a little wiser, I'm a bit more discerning with regards to these wonderful creatures. Not everyone should have a pot bellied pig as a pet.

Back then my research didn't stop me from getting Ignatius C . Potbelly (iggy the piggy), but now 11 years later, (yes he's still here)...  I can honestly say these guys are just not for all. And they should not just automatically become outdoor in the paddock pets. Not if you want to be able to handle them 10 years from now. In the beginning, they need constant correction. Constant attention. And constant care, so that they learn what it is you expect of them.

Over the years have wrote many blog posts about growing up with iggy.  (see past posts here)  

Look at how cute they are at this age. This picture below was of Iggy the piggy, his first month here... How could you NOT love that face. Get attached. It's easy.

Ignatius C. Potbelly

What isn't so easy is long term care of these masterful manipulators. What? How in the world could something so cute be so devilish? Hmmmm. 

Add a dash of 
cute + smart+ really really smart + devious + tenacious + obstinate + loud = pig

It also equals piggy parents that will likely give in and cower to their wants and their needs just to shut them up at times.... And yes.... I did it too! But learned early on that had to stop. I was willing to do what's right for the pig no matter the consequence.

There ain't a pig in the world that won't squeal like you are killing them when they don't want to do something. You can't strong arm a pig. Well, you can, but then phone calls from neighbors ensue. LOUD... piercingly LOUD. The only way to get a pig to do what you want is to outsmart the pig. And though one would presume how hard is that? try it. 

One of the things about these guys is not only are they food motivated. but they literally live their entire lives thinking about their next meal. I've never seen anything like it. No sooner have I fed Iggy his full days' ration, and he is out rooting around for more. He is trying to figure out how to get to the front yard, so that he can get to the garage door because he knows I stack feed in there. And yes, he can open a 400 lb garage door with only his snout. He can also knock over a full refrigerator. Move generators. And if you aren't paying attention re-arrange the house furniture.

He tests everything. Everyday. For the past 11 years. EVERY DAY. 

Good example: 
About 8 years ago it was time for piggy to go on a diet. I mean he was obesely going to die fat.... I had the 'genius' idea that I would make him walk for his food. So every morning before letting him outside, I would walk around the four corners of the property and hide nuggets of food. I did this for a few months. Just enough for him to realize he's got to work for it. Hence expend energy. Lose weight. 

Guess what? 

8 years later and he still goes to those exact same places I hid food, just in case the game has started up again. It hasn't. He's not deterred.

Pigs are a great pet to have on small plots of land, because they need the time to root around, and as long as you don't care about a few things. Screens come to mind. Fencing is another. Cute little potted plants is another. He's destroyed them all.

He also wants and always strives for top hog status. He's scared away more then I can count farm help. He likes to see who will stand up to him and who won't. The ones that don't, game on. He will chase them off the property. Great for home invasion patrol. Not so great when grandma comes to visit. And if you think an 11 year old geriatric pig can't catch you? ha. 

What i'm trying to impart is that I think these guys are just amazing. But you have to be just as amazing to keep up. They aren't going to be like a dog. Once a dog is trained, thats pretty much it. Possibly a refresher course every so often ... With a pig?  they will push you to your limits, daily. They will bully you, charm you, annoy you, till they get what they want, unless you set a firm and constant hand... They will try to outsmart you as much as you let them. And its your fault when you have this whiny, biting, mean, annoying pig 1 year after you got the cute, cuddly, funny, loves belly rubs piglet.

Putting a young pig in a paddock and thinking that this is going to be just like it is now in a few years is nonsense. They need stimulation. Constant attention. Human companionship... if you want them to be amazing pets in a few years,  then you need to work with them at the size they are manageable, now.

And one healthy tidbit a parrot owner once told me that I utilize with all the animals here:

'Don't spend any more time & attention now on an animal  you can't envision doing so for the rest of its life'. 

Meaning don't be spoiling this pig at the onset, if you don't plan on dealing with a spoiled pig for the rest of his life. And while this is a simplification of training its a pretty true statement.  

Why am I writing this all now? Well... you see.... there is this piglet that has been here for a few days and I'm remembering all the things I went thru with Ignatius. And pretty true to form this little girl is a devil. 

But what fun!

Here is something I wrote eons ago about them:

other posts on iggy:

Here is an excellent link for more pig knowledge:

Goodness Gracious More...

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