Getting Started with Dairy Goats

If you are a potential dairy goat owner, but you are not sure where to start, here are some steps that you might find useful, in terms of gathering information. While not complete, it will assist you be successful.

 

Educate Yourself About Housing and Fencing Needs

Dairy goats need protection from wild and domestic predators, from poisonous plants and shelter from adverse weather. Your specific needs will vary by location.  Do It Yourself books can be found  online. Quality housing and fencing are critical to the safety and well-being of your animals.

Many dairy goat owners use livestock guardian dogs or other guardian animals to stay with the goat herd 24 hours daily. Domestic and feral dogs account for most attacks on dairy goats.

 

Learn About Management and Care of Dairy Goats

Read an introduction to management and care of dairy goats

In addition, you can find your books and resources online as well.

The old proverb “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” couldn’t be more applicable to managing your new dairy goat herd.

 

Learn About Milk Sale Law

Before you sell milk or milk products, you need to be aware of laws regulating those activities in your state and country as it may varies from state to states. You should be aware of the laws in your area as well as the potential risks associated with consuming unpasteurized dairy products.

As a beginner read about the key factors in successful  marketing goat milk products.

 

Learn About ALPHA S1 CASEIN Testing

Read about ALPHA S1 CASEIN Effects on cheese making

The a s1-casein is a protein polymorphism of goat milk, and is one found in all dairy goat breeds.

If you are interested in this testing for your does or buck you can approach ADGA.

 

Learn About Dairy Goats Lactation

Read about Compare dairy goats lactation

Lactation length and milk yield and composition for selected breeds of goats.

 

Understand and Determine which Goat Breeds Best Suit Your Goals

Read about breeds to consider and the basic descriptions of each dairy goat breed

Visit farms that raise the breed(s) of goats you are considering.

 

Conclusion

There’s a lot more to learn about keeping a dairy herd. However hopefully, this overview will help you be mentally prepared as you start your journey with dairy goats.

 

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Understand and Determine which Goat Breeds Best Suit You

 

I recommend that you visit farms that raise the breed(s) of goats you are considering. It is imperatives that visiting farms will enable you to determine local availability of quality sires. And, talking to more than one breeder to gain a balanced perspective.

 

Once you decide on a breed, it is imperatives to learn the breed standards before you make your first purchase. It is also important for predicting goat production characteristics and reproduction consistency. To produce milk, does must be bred and give birth to kids.

 

Alternatively, this list can assist you to understand  and determine which breed(s) can help you achieve your goals.

 

List of dairy goat breeds to consider:

 

  1. Toggenburg – Toggenburg does are at least 26 inches tall and weigh 120 pounds while bucks are at least 28 inches tall and weigh 150 pounds. Hair colour is solid, varying from light fawn to dark chocolate with correct white or cream markings. Does may be black with correct white or cream markings. The ears are erect and carried forward. The bridge of the nose may be straight or dished.

Toggenburgs were among the first purebred dairy goats to be imported into the United States  and registered.

  1. Alpine – Alpine does are at least 30 inches tall and weigh 135 pounds while bucks are at least 32 inches tall and weigh 170 pounds. They have erect ears and come in many colours and colour combinations. The hair is medium to short and the bridge of the nose is straight.

Alpine is known for being a hardy, adaptable animal that thrives in any climate while                maintaining good health and excellent production.

  1. Nubian – Nubian does are at least 30 inches tall and weigh 135 pounds, while bucks are at least 32 inches tall and weigh 170 pounds. The head is the distinctive breed characteristic with the facial profile between the eyes and the muzzle being strongly convex, often referred to as – Roman nose. The ears are hanging down and flaring out and forward at their rounded tip and extending at least one inch below the muzzle. Nubians may be any color, solid or patterned. The hair is short, fine and glossy.

Nubian is also known for the high butterfat and protein content of its milk.

  1. Saanen – Saanen does are at least 30 inches tall and weigh 135 pounds while bucks are at least 32 inches tall and weigh 170 pounds. Saanens are distinguished by solid white or light cream-colored hair. Spots may exist on the skin and a spot in the hair up to 1 ½ inches across is allowable. Saanen ears are erect, and the bridge of the nose is either straight or dished.

Saanen is a favorite for commercial dairies due to its high milk production and calm            temperament.

  1. Sable – Sable does are at least 30 inches tall and weigh 135 pounds while bucks are at least 32 inches tall and weigh 170 pounds. Sables may be any color or combination of colors except solid white or sold light cream. The hair is short, and the ears should be erect. The bridge of the nose should either be straight or dished.

Sables have the same high milk production and calm temperament as the Saanen.

  1. LaMancha – LaMancha does are at least 28 inches tall and weigh 130 pounds while bucks are at least 30 inches tall and weigh 160 pounds. The hair is short, fine and glossy and the bridge of the nose is straight. Any colour or colour combination is acceptable. The distinctive feature of LaMancha is very short ears. Bucks may have ears no longer than one inch with little or no cartilage. Does may have ears up to two inches in length.

LaMancha breed was developed in the United States and is known for its calm nature. It          produces well in a variety of climates and conditions.

  1. Oberhasli – Oberhasli does are at least 28 inches tall and weigh 120 pounds while bucks are at least 30 inches tall and weigh 150 pounds. Oberhasli have short erect ears and the bridge of the nose should be either straight or dished. Oberhasli colour is described as bay, ranging from light to a deep red bay with correct black markings. Does may also be solid black.

This Oberhasli is also known for its calm disposition.

  1. Nigerian Dwarf – Nigerian Dwarf does are at least 17 inches tall and may be no taller than 22.5 inches. Bucks are also at least 17 inches tall and 75 pounds is an average weight. Many colour combinations are common, the ears are of medium length and erect, and the bridge of the nose is either straight or dished. The hair is short and fine. Nigerian Dwarf was also developed in the United States.

This Nigerian Dwarf small does but, the doe produces a proportionate quantity of milk with high butterfat.

 

The volume and composition of milk produced is controlled by the goat’s genetics but greatly influenced by the diet consumed.