Goat Milk and Goat Kids

| 6/12/2014 9:16:00 AM

Tags: goats, dairy goats, baby animals, Maryland, Ilene White Freedman,

A few years ago, we added a couple goats to our homestead farm, including an Alpine milkgoat named Avi. I bought Avi already in milk, so the first year I was able to focus on milking without a kid in the mix. When the second year rolled around, the project added a bit more dimension. First, we needed to learn about animal midwifery, to support Avi in birthing on the farm. I wrote a blog a few weeks ago about that birthing experience — Goat Midwifery. And second, we needed to make some decisions about how we would raise our little herd. Would we separate newborn kids from their mothers right away, let them nurse a bit then wean them early, or let the mother goats raise ‘em up?

Avi newborns nursing

Most people I knew who were offering up advice about milk goats were folks in the business. They all agreed that people raise milk goats; separating and feeding newborn kids was a job for shepherds, not goats. The reasoning was primarily that separating mothers and babies was the only way to get milk and tame goats. Another loud and clear opinion I received from different sources was that I needed to milk twice a day.

Now, I’m not trying to get out of the work, I really am not. But I’m already taking on more than I should, it’s the nature of the homestead project. I do a little of a lot of things. If it was at all possible to share some of the work with the mother goat, and to milk once a day, I was in. Just take the first step after birthing: bottle-feed newborn kids four times a day and night. I was not excited about bottle feeding four times a day, even for only a couple weeks.  And night … mostly not excited about bottle feeding during the night. This sounded like a whole lot of work, and if nature had a way to excuse me from this task, I was listening.

Sharing Milk With Both Human and Goat Kids

So really … couldn’t the mother goat take care of this? Do I need to choose between my goat feeding her own kids or my kids? Is it possible to share?

A lot of good questions came up. After much thought, I realized that a homestead with only a couple newborn kids would have very different needs from a dairy with a little herd of babes. Our farm is not a milking operation. I am only milking a goat or two for my own family. I considered the options and realized that things might be handled differently on a homestead than in a professional dairy.

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