So, we’re starting a blog on our site. Mostly this blog will be used to update what’s happening on the farm, highlight our girls, or give kidding updates! A place to get to know our herd and what we are doing a little more. Well then, what’s our story? It’s not super exciting, but it’s been a quick time of learning and absorbing all we can about what makes a dairy goat, and what makes…well…milk.
We never started out intending to own goats. After moving out of the city, to pursue a homesteading life, we thought we might have a cow and some chickens. That was about the extent of the animals we were choosing to delve into. I’ve always heard how annoying goats were and so much work and how it just wasn’t worth it, so why bother. After visiting with a newly made friend who we purchased some chickens from, she invited us to see their new baby goats because you know, kids love baby animals. Indeed they were adorable, floppy ears and bouncing babies make anyone smile. We got to talking and she dispelled a lot of these myths we’d heard about goats and made it seem more of a reality of happening. Well, we went home, made a shelter and pen, did some crash course researching and reading on how to care for goats, and 2 weeks later we brought home a first freshener in milk and a little bottle doeling! All in. 2 months later we got another bottle doeling and that was the little herd we started with!
Of course, you need a buck to have milk. Learning to milk that first year was interesting. But we knew we needed to find a buck or take the girls to someone. We did that for a while and didn’t like it, so we bought a beautiful registered Nigerian Dwarf buck. After acquiring him I decided I really loved these goats and wanted to improve and have beautiful Mini-Nubians that gave lots of milk. Que incessant researching and learning. Since then it’s been a steady time of learning and adjusting and nailing down goals. We’ve changed a lot this last year after truly nailing down what we want. So what is that?
We’ve learned what we like and don’t like and what we prefer to milk and not prefer. Our focus has narrowed down to producing animals that have a solid socked on udder. High, with excellent attachments, large orifices and proper teat size and placement. That’s typical with most breeders. But we also wanted does who could milk for very extended lactations. At some point, we don’t want to be breeding everyone and we just want to milk and the typical homesteader would appreciate that as well. They also need to give a fair amount of milk during this extended lactation and produce it on the feed we choose.
Currently, we feed alfalfa hay or pellets and then oats, barley, BOSS mix on the milk stand and don’t push our girls to the extreme. Aiming instead to get a good amount of milk (over half a gallon per day, more towards a gallon a day +). The average homesteader doesn’t want to have to spend a lot of money in feed to get an acceptable amount of milk, neither do we, but you do have to feed them properly. We hope to have at minimum a gallon a day milkers, which is excellent in a mini-Nubian goat and good in a Nubian.
The last aspect is hardiness. Living in the south it’s humid and the perfect environment for worm infestations. Breeding for hardy goats that are more resistant to these worms and respond well to more natural methods of prevention, it the aim for us. Our current herd seems to be there now. We’ve chosen those that are our hardiest, not needing constant attention to worming and medical issues, have the udders or components of the udders we want, and have the will to milk for a long time. We’ve chosen specific Nubian lines that are well documented on length of lactation as well as production. We’ve chosen to focus more on Six M Galaxy lines and hopefully will throw a little Pennyroyal into there as they are well documented for exceptional long lactations.
So those are our goals! Hopefully, we will accomplish these, not only within our standard Nubians but also our mini-Nubian goats. We have been on milk test and we are continuing to do so, but this year will be our first year with Linear Appraisal. We are very excited to be utilizing this aspect and hope to learn so much from it.
I hope you follow along on the progression of our little herd and may even find some animals in the future worthy of being in your herd! We love them to go to homes where their performance can be tested to give us valuable feedback.