Go(a)t Milk? V-Care & Conclusion

By Kassie DwyerEden Farm, Athens, ME

It is important to remember that a milking goat will have different needs than pet goats.  They have specific nutritional needs and need to be supplied with grain and hay/pasture twice a day and water 24/7. 2-3 pounds of grain per day is a good general guideline for a milking doe.  You may need to adjust depending on her production and size.  The milking doe should be relatively thin, as she should be focusing her resources on milk production, but she should be able to maintain a healthy body weight.  The grain that you choose can be specifically for goats, but you can also feed a general livestock sweet feed that has between 12-16% protein.   Your goat should also have free choice access to minerals.  Many producers also offer baking soda to their goats, as it is a good buffer for the rumen and can help prevent bloat.

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As aforementioned, your goat should have access to fresh, clean water, at all times. Lactating goats use the water they drink to make milk, and will need plenty of it! Access to the outdoors allows your goat exercise and saves on your feed bills.  Goats are browsers, not grazers, and generally prefer bushes, brush, and trees, though they will eat grass.  They will also appreciate rocks and other features in their pasture that they can climb and jump on.  The big wooden spools that power line, etc. comes on are popular with goats, are cinder blocks, old playground equipment, and downed logs/ trees (If you haven’t seen the Goats in Trees calendar, look it up).  Your fence will need to be sturdy and be aware that the goats may try to climb on it.  We have 4 foot woven wire fence that keeps our goats under control.  However, in some cases, adding a strand or two of electric to this setup might be necessary, to keep the goats off the fence.  With only two goats and plenty of space, they don’t spend a lot of time trying to come up with ways to escape.

Keep in mind that in order to maintain milk production, your doe will need to be bred each year.  Bucks come with their own needs (and that staaaank!), and I’ve found it easier to take my doe to “visit” another farm to be bred.

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One of my goats Serena, the one-horned wonder. I sold her to our neighbors, where she has done well and is producing milk for cheese!

Owning a milking goat will open a whole new realm of possibilities for your homestead, family, and even your income!  It seems overwhelming initially but once you create and get the hang of your routine, it becomes just another part of the daily chores that you can breeze through!