Drying Off Dairy Goats

Reader Contribution by Carrie Miller and Miller Micro Farm
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Milking season always comes to an end eventually.

When it comes to raising dairy goats there comes a time when drying them off for the season is needed. Drying goats off does not have to be painful for you or the girls. Our milking season is rather short due to our weaning process and drying process. However, we get plenty of milk, cheese, soap, and lotion during this time to make it through the off-season. While everyone chooses their timing and method here is what we do at Miller Micro Farm.

When We Dry Off Our Girls

We choose to dry our goats at least a month before we breed them. Since we typically breed in November, December, and January we aim to have the girls dried off in October. We are often asked, “why do we dry them off before breeding rather than a month or so before kidding?”. We believe it gives the girls time to relax and put all the nutrition into their bodies before becoming bred once again. October also saves us from having to milk during the cold Ohio fall and winter seasons.

The udder before the drying process begins is full and tight.

Our Drying Method

1. We start by cutting grain portions for two weeks before any drying off begins.

2. Then we only taking half their milk supply per milking.

3. Next, we take them down to once-a-day milking for another week or two.

4. Followed by only taking half their milk supply for three to five days.

5. All the while still cutting their grain portions.

6. After that, we go to every-other-day milking for a week or so.

7. Then milking every three to four days for another week or so.

8. Subsequently, then stopping altogether.

The amount of milk each girl provides has a lot to do with how long it takes to dry them off. First Fresheners (FF’s) often take less time than high producing seasoned milkers. We have one girl, Mabel, who is an extremely high producer taking more time to dry off than the others. She also requires the use of teet tape when we move her to once-a-day milking. The teet tape is not only used to control leaking but helps to keep bacteria from getting in and causing Mastitis. The teet tape is typically only needed for a few days as her production begins to slow. 

As the process goes the udder begins to shrink and becomes less full.

Taking the time to let everyone slowly dry off seems to keep the stress down around the barnyard. The girls thrive through the process and enjoy their much-deserved break before breeding season once again commences. We also take the downtime to do our semi-annual herd check. Everyone gets their fecal and blood-work done to ensure their continued health and happiness. Any additional supplements that are needed are also added at this time, it helps them ready for the breeding season.>

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