No matter how you slice it, having a dairy animal is definitely a commitment. However, for us, the luxury of having raw milk far surpasses any “hassle” the goats might present to us! And truthfully, they really are not much trouble.
Our goats are due to kid any day now, and I am gearing to start my milking routine once again.
Before you start your daily milking, you need to decide how much milk you will require on a daily basis, as well as your time restrictions. Your two main options:
Twice Daily Milking:
You can remove the kid(s) from their mama completely and milk twice daily- as close to 12 hours apart as possible.
Pros: (1)You will get a larger quantity of milk. (2) Some goat breeders prefer this method to be certain that diseases, such as CAE, are not passed from the mother’s milk to the kid.
Cons: (1)You must be home in the morning and evening at roughly the same time every day. (2)You must either bottle feed the babies (another time commitment) or sell them. (3) If you need to leave your homestead for a few days, you must find someone to milk.
Once Daily Milking:
You leave the kid(s) with their mother for 12 hours, then separate them and milk after the separation period.
Pros: (1)Your schedule will be more flexible. (2) You can keep and raise the kids without having to worry about bottle feeding. (3) If you need to leave for the weekend, just leave the kids and doe together. The babies will milk for you.
Cons: (1)You will get less milk. (2) Some breeders are concerned about the small chance that diseases could be passed to the babies through the milk.
I have found that once daily milking works the best for us. I separate mama and babies at night, milk after morning chores, and then let them be together all day. An example of our daily routine would be:
Day One: 8:00 p.m.- Separate the kids from the does. I keep them in a pen next door. Provide them with bedding, water, and a little hay or grain once they are old enough. The first few times may seem a little traumatic, but they get used to it quickly!
Day Two: 8:00 a.m.- Grab your milking bucket and head outside. Milk your does, then turn the babies loose and allow everyone to be together during the day.
Day Two: 8:00 p.m.- Repeat the process. Separate the kids and tuck them into their bedtime pen.
Of course, if life happens and your separation/milking times aren’t exactly 12 hours apart, don’t worry too much. Also, I love this method because it allows us the flexibility of letting the babies “milk” for us if we are going to be gone or busy for a day or two.
I believe this method will also work if you have a milk cow instead of a goat. I would love to hear from any of you milk cow owners out there- what does a cow schedule look like?
Can’t get enough goat? Check out some of the other posts in our Goat 101 series: