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DAIRY GOATS and GOAT MILK | Learn the Basics

Ivy and Quincy the Dairy Goats
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DAIRY GOATS ~ #1 MILKING ANIMALS IN THE WORLD! Learn the Basics of Dairy Goats and Goat Milk so you can begin your home dairy!

two dairy goats in their barn
Ivy with the Long Ears and Quincy on the left are the stars in our goat herd!

Ivy, the goat on the right with the long ears is a registered Nubian. Quincy is on the left and she is a crossed between a Nubian and French Alpine goat. Both these breeds are fantastic milk producers.

Further Reading: Nubian and French Alpine

Dairy Goats and Goat Milk

There are several things that you need to think about before getting dairy goats……yes, goats……you should get at least 2 goats!! Goats are a herd animal. They need companionship to stay happy and healthy!!!

Please review the following:

Consider the basics of food, water and shelter; goats are hardy but they need some form of shelter, good clean water, plenty of hay and/or pasture and some type of grain.

  1. Your goats will need some form of shelter from the elements, especially from rain, wind and snowy weather
  2. Fencing is very important as goats are escape artists and can get out of the best of pens so make sure to think about secure fencing
  3. Stanchion and a few milking items such as a Stainless Steel Milk Bucket with Lid 14 Qt Dairy Pail , ‘Stainless Steel Mason Jar Milk Strainer for Dairy Goats & Sheep‘  and Replacement Filters for Mini Milk Strainer
  4. Mineral block like a Himalayan Salt Block Lick with Minerals by Salt Rox – For Livestock, Deer, Cows, Goats, Horses (5 LB)
  5. Parasite control if this is a problem in your area {there are some good herbal wormers that help with parasites} such as: Granny’s Best Herbal Wormer & Immunity Builder

Getting Started:

First, goat needs are very basic but they are real needs. Good clean water is a must for all animals but it is extremely important for dairy animals. Make sure water is fresh, clean and easily attainable. If you live in a cold climate with harsh freezing winters, then you must address the winter water availability.  There are many different types of water heaters that can be used during the winter months but make sure to plan for this with a  API 5 Gallon 115 Watt Heated Flat Back Bucket 20FB

Feed:

A good quality hay or pasture is the next thing on the list. If you are raising your goats for milk, then you will need to consider providing a high quality alfalfa hay. Dairy goats produce milk which contains lots of calcium. In order for your goats to produce milk, they need good quality feed and some grain.

We have used certified alfalfa hay for our goats as well as providing some pasture to keep them busy and healthy. Alfalfa contains calcium!! So, alfalfa hay is very desirable. Next, consider that a grain mix like C.O.B. Corn, Oats and Barley,  3-Way feed, with molasses is highly recommended for your milking nannies. All goats love 3-Way feed with molasses but your milkers really need the additional nutritional boost from this grain mix. This type of 3-Way feed is available at your local feed store. Several feed companies are now offering organic grains for livestock.

Feeding grain at milking time is a great way to keep the nannies content while you are milking. We have used a bucket at the head end of the stanchion for feeding grain during milking.

Wooden Milking Stanchion
Wooden Milking Stanchion ~ Learn the Basics of Dairy Goats ~ Goat Milk

This stanchion has a head catch with locking bolt on it. The head-catch board pivots to hold the nanny comfortably while she is milked. This type of stand has worked well for us for many years. The nanny goat learns that she will receive her grain once she enters the head catch. It might take a few tries to get her to settle down but once she understands the routine, milking time is enjoyable for her. Plus, as her milk develops, she is ready to be milked and will be eager to jump on the stanchion!

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:  QUICK CHECKLIST for RAISING BABY CHICKS {Free Printable!}
Also See

Shelter:

Next, your goats will need some type of basic protection for the sun, wind, rain, snow and predators. They do not need anything elaborate but they do need something safe and secure. We have a barn that has worked out very well. The goats are locked in at night to protect them from the elements.  Putting the goats in the barn also offered protection from predators such as coyotes, dogs, wolves, bears, etc. Beware of dogs. Dogs can destroy your goat-herd in no time flat. It is an expensive loss and very sad.

Your goats do not need any additional heat except at kidding time for the newborn kids but they need to be protected from the wind and weather year round whether it is protection from the hot sun, wind, rain or snow. Sensibility is important. Basically, your barn, shed or shelter needs to have strong walls that will keep the elements and predators out especially at night.

One of my readers asked about separating out the kids from the nannies at milking time. This is my reply but I I thought the question was so important that I wanted to include how we milked only once a day instead of milking twice and having to bottle feed the kids………..

“Hi Susan….great question!!! What we have done, so we can “share” the milk with the goat kids and still have some for our family, is separate out the babies from the nannies at night. This way the nannies produced enough milk for us each morning. After milking, we would then let the goat kids out to be with their moms all day. The kids were hungry in the morning but they were able to eat and play all day long! So, we only did one milking each morning and the kids would be with the nannies the rest of the day. We would then put the goat kids in a safe stall in our barn at night to sleep. They will be a little noisy at first, but then settle down for the night. This system actually gave the nannies a break so they could get a good night’s rest, too. The nannies were then ready to be milked in the morning prior to letting the kids out to eat and play!!! By sharing the milk with the kids this way we did not have to deal with baby bottles and hand-feeding. But, as always, watch your nannies and kids’ health to determine what works best for you and them. Thanks for asking….”

<meta name="frenchalpinecrossmilkgoat"content="It is important to provide proper care for your dairy goats."
This is Quincy. She is a cross between a Nubian and French Alpine Dairy Goats.

Fencing:

Protecting your Dairy Goats………The next topic is fencing……goats are escape artists to say the least! We have used hog panels which have worked out well. Wooden slats also work good to keep goats in. So your fencing basically needs to have sturdy metal T-posts or wooden posts to which the wire hog panels, horse fence, wooden slats are attached.

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Goats need room so make your enclosure as large as possible. You can also stake your goat out on a tether but make sure the area is safe and free of predators.

Milking Area:

The milking area must be kept clean. It is so important to keep everything as clean as possible when handling raw milk.

Here is another view of our stanchion:

<meta name="woodenmilkingstanchion="Having the proper wooden milking stanchion makes milking time so much easier.."
Wooden Stanchion for Easy Milking

Our boys would sweep up before milking each morning to keep the milking area clean. Once the goats were milked, they were let outside into the small pasture that is adjacent to our barn. At this point, we came into the house to strain the milk. We have a stainless steel milking pail and small strainer. It is vitally important to strain your fresh milk prior to put chilling it. We would use small milk filters to strain our fresh milk and then here is the big secret to delicious tasting goat milk………Perfect Reference Book on Keeping Goats

Judith Straining Fresh Goat's Milk
Judith Straining Fresh Milk ~ Learn the Basics of Dairy Goats ~ Goat Milk

At first, there was an “off taste” when the goat milk was simply chilled in the refrigerator after straining; I thought it was just me, that I did not like goat’s milk……but, after talking to my friends Cecil and Avis, I discovered a secret to great tasting goat milk……Sharp Chill!!!

To sharp chill, you must first strain the milk. Strain the milk directly into Ball Jars, then placed in the freezer without a lid to chill. This process allows the milk to “breathe” or in essence “air out” as well as cool down quickly. This Sharp Freezing actually helps the “goaty” taste disappear!!! And……..the milk is simply delicious………….you absolutely must try the special technique. I learned this from long time goat people and it really works!!!

On a side note: We originally pasteurized our cow’s milk.  But later on decided not to pasteurize the goats’ milk due to the high enzyme loss of heating the milk to just below boiling point.

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For further reading try:

Holistic Goat Care: A Comprehensive Guide to Raising Healthy Animals, Preventing Common Ailments, and Troubleshooting Problems or

The Dairy Goat Handbook: For Backyard, Homestead, and Small Farm

 

Also consider making: Goat Milk Soap with this Perfect Goat Milk Soap Recipe

Pin It for Later:

DAIRY GOATS and GOAT MILK | Learn the Basics promo image

Take a look at this perfect gift for your Goat Loving Friend of Children from my friend, Brenda.

Slippers for Hannah

 Image credit & book found at: Brenda’s Kids Books

A Little Stuffed Animal Goat or A Life Like Goat Friend

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4 Comments

  • Susan
    January 12, 2018 at 12:27 am

    I have had meat goats before and loved raising them but I don’t eat goat. So I am going for Nigerian Dwarfs this time.. getting everything prepared including going through and taking out all the cacti. I’m in Hill Country Texas or will be fixing Florida’s property right now. When I get back I’m pretty good with the health and all what I’m confused on is I don’t need a lot of milk. So when Freshen them, do I bottle feed the kids in the morning and milk the does then let the kids have the does rest of the day? Or opposite?

    Reply
    • Original Homesteading
      January 12, 2018 at 6:43 pm

      Hi Susan….great question!!! What we have done, so we can “share” the milk with the goat kids and still have some for our family, is separate out the babies from the nannies at night. This way the nannies produced enough milk for us each morning. After milking, we would then let the goat kids out to be with their moms. The kids were hungry in the morning but they were able to eat and play all day long! So, we only did one milking each morning and the kids would be with the nannies the rest of the day. We would then put the goat kids in a safe stall in our barn at night to sleep. They will be a little noisy at first, but then settle down for the night. This system actually gave the nannies a break so they could get a good night’s rest, too. The nannies were then ready to be milked each morning prior to letting the kids out. By turning the kids out with their moms, we did not have to deal with baby bottles and hand-feeding which worked out great for us. But, as always, watch your nannies and kids’ health to determine what works best for you and them. Thanks for asking., nipples

      Reply
  • Brenda
    April 13, 2018 at 1:09 am

    Love the article on the goat’s milk. How do you separate your cream so you can make butter? Do you have any fancy tricks?

    Reply
    • Original Homesteading
      April 13, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      Hi Brenda….thanks, I am so glad that you enjoyed the information on Goat’s Milk. Goat milk has very little cream that rises to the surface differing from cow’s milk. Goat Milk is naturally homogenized which means the cream is naturally mixed in with the rest of the milk. I have not made butter with our goat’s milk but in doing a quick search on Pinterest there are some great articles available there. Hope that helps!

      Reply

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