Home Dairy/Goat 101

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Home dairying is a big part of homesteading for us. It all started with a couple of dairy goats, and now we currently have Oakley the Milk Cow.

Love raw milk, but not what it does to your wallet? Interested in owning goats in the future, but nervous about taking the plunge? Join us for the Goat 101 Series- an introduction to the perfect homestead dairy animal.

Goat 101 Series

Have a milk cow standing out in your barn and need a few tips? How about homemade udder balm so you don’t have to buy it at the store? There is a whole pile of home dairy posts here on the blog–enjoy!

Other Home Dairy Topics

Recipes and Ideas

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

 

Comments

  1. Dawn Meador says:

    Goat milking video schedule etc………….

  2. I’m very curious about goat milk. The idea of milking my own goat sounds interesting, but does the milk taste anything like the cheese? I’m not sure how much I like the idea of goat-cheese-tasting milk on my cheerios!

  3. Hi Marie,
    It really depends on the individual goat and how the milk is handled. Our goat milk tastes like, well, milk. It really isn’t “goaty” at all. And it depends on what type of goat-cheese you are thinking of. Some specific types of goat cheese are made to be extra goat-tasting. However, I’ve made several types of ‘regular’ cheeses (like mozzarella and feta) with goat’s milk and they tasted “normal”. And to be honest, I’ve never had store-bought goat milk, but I’ve heard it’s fairly strong- I definitely think that fresh, raw milk is probably overall better tasting. So, that was a long-winded way to say that I think you might be pleasantly surprised with how goat’s milk tastes on your cheerios. ;)

    • About the Goats milk taste. I was raised in Northern Vermont. We had a goat heard of 60. Our milk went to the Cabot Cermery, Yes in Cabot Vermont.
      If you have a buck near by the doe. The milk will be tanted from the buck. So buck need to be housed in there own little place.

  4. James and Lisa says:

    Hi Jill!
    First let me introduce myself to you… I am James Jordan from the Paris, Texas area. My wife and I found you while looking up goat milking on yahoo search. Man am I glad you are here!
    I own a residential construction company and have a few select clients close to my ranch that I do farm and ranch maintenance for. One client in particular is a very eclectic lady that demands everything Green and Organic. I will be working on wind generated electricity for her this year. For now, I am a Residential Construction Project Manager and Executive Goat Milker! My client has just purchased 2 mini Nubian doe’s that gave us 2 newborn doe’s on Christmas Day! Now I’m a Goat Milker!! lol
    Just wanted to say that We ( My Wife and I ) are here and watching you, and learning bunches!
    I have invested in a hand pump milker to help with the smaller teets and am getting a full pint from each momma every morning using your milking stand with only a few modifications.
    Now we are about to start our first cheese and yogurt trials….
    Thanks for all your hard work on the site and God Bless!
    James and Lisa Jordan

    • Hi James!
      I’m so happy to ‘meet’ you and your wife! :)
      It sounds like you have quite the operation- I’m glad that the Goat 101 series has been helpful! I think the hand pump milker sounds like a brilliant idea. Thankfully, my girls have decent sized teats, but I promised myself that if I ever got a goat with tiny teats, we would end up with some sort of machine to help. ;)

      Good luck with your yogurt and cheese making! Keep up the great work!

  5. Stephanie says:

    I have had both meat and milk goats for over 12 years. I have had as many as 70 and as few as 12 so I definately have a love for the critters. The problem with goats is if you get one you are destined to get more. My goats tend to bag up a few weeks before delivery and become fully strutted just prior to iminent birth. They seem to want to isolate themselves from the herd so if the weather is bad and the herd is in a shelter the doe will go out into the bad weather to have her kid which is a good reason to confine her to a kidding pen once signs are there that birth is close. They do tend to paw the ground and make little noises as tho they are talking to their kids. Its just soft little winnies of sound not the usual “bah bah bah”. In my experience most goats can handle the job just fine on their own but occassionally one needs help and if after 30 mins or so of pushing nothing is happening then you should have a kidding kit ready and available for use. Our does all get a bucket of really warm water with about a half cup of dark molassas mixed in as soon as they have cleaned up the kid, it gives them energy and restores fluids. I always offer it again after the next kid(s) . Or you can mix up some Magic and give them that as we always use Magic for our goats who are weakened from illnes or kidding. If you haven’t heard of Magic let me know and I will send you a recipe for it.

  6. Jennifer says:

    A big thank you for Goat 101! We got our LaMancha this weekend and are loving all the fresh milk. Your information sure encouraged me to take the leap!!

  7. jenniferI says:

    I have a doe who just had her first kidding with 3 kids two boys and a girl.. they are10 days old now and I have noticed that when they are trying to milk the doe will keep walking away from them.. should I tie her up for a while and see if they can feed better? I dont want to switch to bottle feeding if I dont have to.

    Thanks! great stuff here btw ;)

    • It depends. Usually when i’ve had trouble getting a doe to allow her babies to nurse, it’s right at the beginning. So, if she’s been doing ok for 10 days, I wouldn’t be too worried.

      Sometimes my does will walk away if the babies keep trying and trying to nuse and there is nothing left in the udder. So, I would just keep an eye on her for a while. If it looks like she isn’t allowing them to suck at all, then try tying her up and helping them out. However, if her bad stays fairly empty, it may be that the babies are just annoying her a bit. ;)

  8. GOATS!- Love them!! I’ve owned dairy goats for 32 years now. I’ve had anything from 1 to 101 over the years. I’ve had goats as pets, packers, cart pullers, milking, meat and showing. I’ve eaten goat meat; and I’ve used the milk. I had goats in 4-H as a child; and my children have grown up with goats.
    Goats have individual personalities, but there are some generalities that can be said for each breed personality. So shop carefully to make sure your personality fits with that of your new family member.

  9. I bought three Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats 5 years ago as a Christmas present for my children. Since then, their interest in them has waned but I totally got hooked by them. I now keep a small herd of milkers. I’ve had one herd sire and this spring added another sire out of good dairy lines. My farm’s FB name is En Ten Acres. It’s a public account where I have some pictures and videos of this breed on my farm.

  10. Our family is just getting started with homesteading. We’ve got chickens and a garden, our next step is goats. I grew up milking goats, but these articles are going to be so helpful, thanks! Come by our website sometime, to see how it all progresses! Thanks.

  11. Hi,
    Our goat had kids a month ago, and is obviously still nursing. She looks a little blown up and we think she may have worms. Can you give goat de-wormer to a goat that is nursing? We have 3 pygmy goats, and 3 pygmy-cashmere goats. We got her when she was pregnant and we do not have male goats ( except the 2 new kids) so we know she isn’t pregnant again.
    Any advise?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Kathleen,
      I haven’t done much goat deworming, so I’m not 100% sure. However, I’m fairly certain that you can deworm a goat with kids, as long as you pick a safe dewormer (check with your vet). You will want to refrain from drinking the milk yourself for a while, though.

      Another option is using diatomaceous earth to deworm. Some people swear by it- I personally don’t have any “proof” that it works 100%, but it’s all natural and worth a try.

  12. Denise Metts says:

    Hello Jill, I just got my first doe (we’ve had a buck for sometime) and I’m anxiously waiting to take the next step of kidding, milking, etc.. My questions is is what is the best feed to fed a goat? I’m just amazed how much different feed is out there. Thank you so much and also for your informative “Goat 101″.

    Blessings

    • Hi Denise,
      Well, it depends on who you talk to…
      I prefer grassfed animals, so I usually just give mine a grass/alfalfa mix hay. I know that some goat folks are much more elaborate in what they give their goats, but I’m pretty simple. ;)

      Also, make sure they have salt and a goat mineral available. And baking soda is a good idea, too, if they are prone to bloat.

      • Denise Metts says:

        They have plenty of pasture so I never thought about just giving hay instead of feed. Why the salt and what kind of goat mineral? Wouldn’t baking soda have the minerals they made need? Sorry for so many questions.

        • Well, if you have pasture and they are staying fat, then you probably don’t need to feed hay or anything else for the time being. All grazing animals need salt in their diets, since it isn’t gained from grass. I just get the little white salt blocks from the feed store. As far as mineral, I just get the loose goat mineral that my feed store sells (they seem to like it loose, rather than in blocks). Baking soda won’t have everything they need- but offering it free choice does seem to help prevent bloat.

  13. You mention several times that your goat milk tastes like milk, with no “off” flavors. Mine doesn’t have the super strong flavor of processed milk from the store, but it doesn’t taste like cow milk either. It tastes very sweet and as it warms, it develops a slight “goaty” flavor. We had a terrible time after the goats kidded (this is our second year with goats and first kidding) getting the milk to taste drinkable. Any thoughts on what we might be doing wrong? They eat a good hay, no graze, sweet mix at milking, and have a goat block and cobalt block. Milk is immediately placed in the freezer to cool. Thanks for all the info. This has been good reading!

  14. A few questions:
    1. Can you make yogurt out of goat milk?
    2. Can you make butter out of it?

    • Hi Nora,
      Yes, you can totally make yogurt out of goat’s milk. However– it will not be quite as thick as cow’s milk yogurt. (I’m not 100% sure why this is, but I’ve heard many folks mention it.) I solved that problem by adding thickeners to my yogurt, or by straining through a cheesecloth first.

      Goat’s milk is naturally homogenized, so the cream doesn’t rise to the top. Therefore, making butter is near impossible. I have heard of folks using a cream separator to extract the cream, but I haven’t tried that personally. If you hope to gain cream without the use of a machine, you should expect to only get a tablespoon or two at a time.

      • Margaret Barstow - Hibbard says:

        In the spring the butter fat is at its peak. Just beat the milk as you would to make butter. You won’t get as much butter as you would from pure cream, but it is good. Feed the whey to the chickens, pigs or cats. Some goats produce higher butter fat, like Nubians. (Originator of the 1st Grade A goat. dairy in Idaho. Processing Plant and Cheese Factory.)

  15. Hi, Jill!
    I found your site a couple weeks ago when searching for a dry laundry soap recipe to replace the liquid one I normally make (I was having to make batches more often than I wanted). My husband and I, along with our 4 year old daughter, 2 year old son, rottweiler, rott/lab mix, beagle, 15 chickens, and future cow live on 3 acres in southern Indiana. We are thinking of getting a goat, and I wonder if anyone on here has advice for what to do when we have to be away from home (family emergency, vacation, etc.)? We do not have family that would come milk the goat, nor are our neighbors (elderly) able to do it. I’m wondering if a milk goat wouldn’t be a good fit for us for this reason, or if there is a solution I’m not thinking of (I know nothing about goats). Any advice would be so appreciated!

    • Hi Jennifer-
      I can relate on this issue. It’s tough to find folks who will milk when you’re away! What I would suggest is possibly keeping the kids on the doe and milking 1x per day. That way, if you want to leave for a day or two, you can just turn them all in together and the babies will “milk” for you. I believe my post on choosing a milking schedule has more info on this.

      Also, like it or not, sometimes we end up planning on vacations around when the animals are lactating… Kinda a pain, but it comes with the territory. ;)

      • Thank you for the info! I don’t mind planning vacations around the animals at all – a very small price to pay for this lifestyle (and it’s not often I even want to get away from home)!

  16. Hi,
    I was reading your post about giving your goats Magic after kidding. I would like to get your recipe for
    this. We have meat and dairy goats and are going to be kidding in the next few months, Just thought
    this would be helpful to have on hand for the doe. Thanks

  17. For a ‘farm-sitter’ while you are on vacation, check with your local county extension office. They should be able to put you in touch with a local 4H club that has kids that do goat (and other animal) projects. These kids are often excited to have the opportunity to earn a little extra money by farm-sitting for short periods.

  18. Hi Jill, I bought 8 goats about 5 months ago, the woman we bought them from said they where nubian but i’m not so sure. Since they’re “Nubian” I was hoping to milk one of them, but there teats are tiny, unlike many of the pictures and videos of Nubians, and if I ever do get milking them, I was wondering if you pasturize the milk or do anything to it before you drink.
    Your website has helped a lot.

    • Congrats on your new goat herd Ellen!
      I do not pasteurize any of my milk. In fact, one of the main reasons we got our own dairy animals was so we could have access to raw milk. As long as your goats are healthy and you handle the milk properly, it is perfectly safe to drink raw. And it’s much better for you as well! ;)

  19. Hi Jill,
    I am so glad I have come across your website. Thanks for putting it up. I have had several wethers for a while, raising them as meat. I enjoyed raising them so much, I bought 2 alpine goats and a saanen for milking. I have been searching the web for easy low cost ways to milk them. Most people say you need all these high priced items to do so. Thankfully I found your site. It is very informative and easy to understand. Thanks to you I saved a crap load of money on unnecessary and frilly items. I plan to make cheese, various soaps and lotions. Then sell them at our local farmers market.

  20. Hi Jill! You are so open with all your experiences and wisdom…thank you for that!! My family and I are new homesteaders and we have 2 female goats for milk purposes. They both just gave birth 2 weeks ago to 2 kids each. (if you have a moment, check out our blog…I got some amazing pics of the birth!!) They have never been milked by human hands and I’m having a very hard time getting them to cooperate. We are building a milking stand this weekend to hopefully help with that. Because I’m having such a hard time trying to milk them, I haven’t been doing it at all. Do you know how long will the kids usually nurse for? I’m just worried that the milk might dry up before we even get them on a milking routine!! Any suggestions or wisdom on how to get them to let us milk them? Also, once the kids do wean themselves, will we need to go to 2 milkings a day to keep the mamas lactating? I appreciate your time and any advice :) have a great day!

    • Hi Chris– congrats on your new babies!
      To answer your questions, the babies will nurse for months and months. In fact, I usually wait about 2 weeks before I start milking anyway– just to give everyone time to bond. Just make sure that the babies are nursing both sides and not ignoring one teat.

      As far as getting them gentle, it just takes some time and patience. Having a milking stand is a HUGE help– and plan on giving them some grain, etc, while you milk. I usually start out by quickly brushing my hand over their udder (very quickly) until they quit jumping or fliching. I’ll then touch it a bit more, but I always try to take my hand away before they have a “meltdown.” It’s almost like you are touching them and removing your hand before they get upset so you show them that they can handle it. Hope that makes sense.

      And yes, once you wean, you’ll need to milk 2x per day to keep up production. Then plan on drying up the doe about 8 weeks before she kids again so she has a break.