How Often Do Goats Need Milking?

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When you manage a herd of dairy goats, a regular milking routine is critical. Waiting too long to milk a lactating doe can cause pain and discomfort. Milking frequency depends on the amount of milk you would like to keep for yourself, whether or not you are trying to stop production, and how long it has been since your doe first freshened.

Running Dry

If you intend to encourage a doe to stop producing, never stop milking suddenly -- that will cause extreme pain. Instead, help your goat's milk supply dry up. Decrease the amount of grain in her diet. This will discourage her body from producing milk. Once you notice milk production decreasing, begin milking your goat once every other day for two weeks. Then milk once every three days for another week. At this point, milk production should be very slow or have stopped altogether; it is safe for you to quit milking.

Sharing the Spoil

If you allow your goat’s kids to nurse part-time, milk once per day. Separate the kids from their mother at night. Make sure they have access to fresh water, hay and grain. In the morning, milk your doe and allow the kids to nurse the rest of the day. Dairy goats often produce a gallon of milk per day. If you separate the kids at night and take only the morning milk, you will end up with a half-gallon daily. Keep an eye on your doe’s udder while her kids are nursing. If they are nursing on one side only, leaving the second half full, release some of the milk by hand to alleviate discomfort. If your doe has one kid, you can leave the baby with her all the time and milk once per day. A healthy doe will produce enough milk for the both of you. However, if your goat has twins, you will need to separate the kids at night to get any milk.

Peak Production

After your goat gives birth to her kids, she will begin lactating. Some goat owners remove kids from their mother and bottle-feed them using milk replacer or formula. With that approach, you get to keep all the milk. Your goat's peak production time will begin two months after the birth of her kids and slowly taper off from there. During peak production, milk your goat every 12 hours.

Success Secrets

Use a stanchion while milking your goat. This will ease pressure on your back and simplify the milking process. A stanchion is a wood or metal platform for your goat to stand on while you milk. Some stanchions come with head gates, which secure a doe’s head and keeps her from jumping off the platform. Feed your goat grain or hay to encourage her to stand still during milking. Wash her udders with warm water, of 110 degrees Fahrenheit, before milking. Dip the teats in a cleansing solution designed for lactating animals after you’ve finished. This helps prevent bacteria from entering the teat and decreases the likelihood of mastitis. Partially cover the pail to keep hair and dirt from falling into the milk.

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