How to dry up a milk goat. Owning a milk goat can be rewarding in many ways. The milk is not only very tasty but can be used on your homestead.
Tips to dry up a milk goat
As for me I have 3 milk goats I have milked throughout this summer. Last year I was milking 6 and that was just a little too much for our needs.
I enjoy milking and it really only takes me about 15 minutes to milk three goats (when they cooperate). The hard part is finding places for the milk to go, because let’s face it on a farm there are so many projects that take up my time and I don’t always have time to make something out of the milk.
How we use the goats milk
We do use the milk by making various cheeses, yogurt, ice cream, soap, and other products and of course we drink it. If you have never drank goats milk you are missing out on a delicious treat. Many people turn up their noses to goats milk but when you feed the goat right and process the milk properly, it can taste creamier than cows milk. Don’t just take my word for it. And of course there is the mind set of “it is goats milk so it can’t taste good.”
Another option to use up your milk is to feed it to other animals. I raise Holstein bottle calves on goats milk and they grow really well. Of course they don’t mind if it is goats milk.
Why I dry up my goats and when
As the summer draws to an end I do start to think about drying up my goats. Here are a few reasons why I try to have them dried up by the middle of October.
- I put the buck in with my does in November and want to have them in the best condition as possible. I don’t like my goats to be thin especially going in to breeding season.
- I feel like they need a little time off from milking and being pregnant. This gives them a little break to enjoy life. (I know they are goats, but they are also my friends!)
- I am ready for a break by then and have a list of other things to take up my time preparing for winter. Also I am a fair weather milker and at this time I don’t have a barn to milk my goats in. I like to be done milking before it turns to cold and starts to snow.
Just what do you need to do to prepare your goats so they will dry up easily?
The first thing I always look at is what am I feeding them. When I am milking them twice a day I am feeding them top quality hay. We raise organic dairy hay for milk cows so I have the perfect feed. This is what I feed when the demands for milk are very high on their bodies. I also give them a mix of grain while I milk. This gives them the boost they need to increase the production of milk and keep them strong and healthy.
Now I am ready to dry them up so I start to mix my hay with a high quality organic hay we raise for beef cows. This hay is still great hay but it is not as potent as the dairy hay I was feeding. It is a grass alfalfa mix.
It is important to mix it with the dairy hay so the change won’t be such a shock to their system. Gradually I add in more of the grass hay to the straight alfalfa hay until I totally discontinue the alfalfa hay. The grass hay still has alfalfa hay mixed in with it so it is really good feed but just not as good at producing the milk I needed earlier in the summer when I was milking the does heavy. I also cut back on the amount of grain I feed them.
How to cut back on milking
Once I have them switched over on the feed I start cutting back the amount of times I milk a day. Through out the summer I milk twice a day. When I am ready to cut back I milk my goats once a day. The utter gets really tight but since the demand for the milk goes down the goat cuts back on production.
The goats body will adjust the amount of milk it produces. I watch my goat for a few days up to almost two weeks on some goats. When I feel she is ready I skip two milking. Again it will be the same as when you cut back the first time. Her udder will get tight and she will be uncomfortable and yes she will yell at you to milk her. Once her body starts to adjust to skipping two milkings you do this again.
You skip three milkings. You continue skipping more milkings as your goat is ready until you can stop milking. Only you will know when you are ready to completely stop milking because you know your goat the best.
There are some things to watch for when you are drying up your goat.
Watch for mastitis. If you are drying your goat up too fast she can develop mastitis. Mastitis is an infection in the udder. If the bag feels hot to the touch and very tight this is a symptom. Other symptoms may be if you try to milk her and the bag feels hard, she may be in pain, lethargic, off of her feed and may act depressed. Another symptom may be when you squeeze the teats and nothing comes out, or it is curdled or bloody. These are symptoms of mastitis.
While there can me some complications in drying up your goat it is a very simple procedure. The important thing is to keep a close eye on her. If you think she needs to be milked to prevent an infection by all means milk her. It will really only set you back a couple days in trying to dry her up.
It is better to be safe than sorry and protect the health of your goat. Make sure you continue to feed her mineral. Mineral is helpful in building her immune system and promoting good health and good digestion.
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