Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Got Milk?

A couple of weeks ago our Apline doe's udder started looking bigger on one side.  I didn't think much of it: we got her at an auction and don't know exactly how old she is, so maybe she was just growing.  Then today her udder was MUCH bigger on the one side, like full of milk bigger.

I cornered her, pulled on the teat, and MILK CAME OUT!!!  I got her up on the stand and milked both teats, getting almost as much out of her as we do each of the other goats.  I ran in and told Matt, dreams of a super-breed of goat floating around in my head, a breed perfect for hobby farmers who wanted the milk but not necessarily a billy or kid goats. 

Once I had come back to reality, I Googled the phenomenon and found out it is actually rather common.  They are known as precocious does.  There are all kinds of opinions on what to do with these does.  Some people milk them because it helps the goat to avoid mastitis and gives them a bit more milk.  Goats who are milked as precocious does can give as much as a half gallon per day if stimulated (about as much as our current two goats give together).  Others do not touch the doe and allow it to dry up, waiting for milk until after the doe has kids.  I read on one Homesteading Today post that someone had experimented with her precocious does, finding hers do best if she milks them up until bred then drying off...also finding those gave more milk after kidding than precocious does she did not milk at all.  One thing everyone agreed on was becoming precocious is a sign of a great milker: it looks like we can expect to get over a gallon per day after she does kid.  (Yeah!!!!!)

We discussed it and decided to milk her until she is bred.  We even discussed trying not to breed her since we are only interested in the milk and would be happy with a half gallon per day, but I couldn't find if there would be any negative consequences to that option.  For now, we will just enjoy this little suprise!

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