|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.
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!