Management And Care Of Dairy Goats

The modern dairy goat produces milk of the highest quality and dairy goats are one of the most useful animals you can keep. Not only are they easy to look after and feed, they produce quality milk to make cheese, butter, yogurt and drinks. Unwanted kids are excellent as a source of meat for the house, the skins tan well and the fat is used to make soap. The female dairy goat is a doe; the male, a buck; the young, kids; and a castrated male, a wether. Their life span is about eight to twelve years.

Some of the basics know how about the management of dairy goats are:



Ideally, goats should be dehorned when they are very young. It is advisable to wait until they are 1-2 weeks of age and in good flesh to be sure they are healthy and not coming down with neonatal diarrhea. If discolored skin is fixed to the skull in two rosettes, horn buds are present. Moveable skin indicates a naturally hornless condition.

Hooves should be trimmed frequently to assure proper development of the hoof.

To check the health of goats and determine suspected illness, it is useful to know their normal physiological values. Pulse is about 83 per minute ranging from 50 to 115. Respiration is around 29 per minute with a range from 15 to 50. Body temperature is about 103.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Keeping good weight records is important for proper feeding and medication, besides good management. Tapes can be used for estimation of weight by measuring the heart girth behind the forelegs. There also exists normal growth curve to age-weight relationships. For large breed male goats, they are in average as follows: 1 month-25 lb., 3 months-55 lb., 6 months-85 lb., 9 months-110 lb., 12 months-130 lb., 18 months-155 lb., 24 months-170 lb., 36 months-205 lb. For smaller breeds and females, these standards are less, proportionate to the lesser adult body weight.



Dairy goats need a year-round supply of roughage, such as pasture, browse or well-cured hay. Winter browse and pastures should be supplemented with hay. Milking, breeding and growing stock need a daily portion of legume hay, such as alfalfa. Kids and bucks need a balanced grain ration and milkers should be fed a standard dairy grain ration. Kids are milk fed until two to three months of age, but should be consuming forages such as pasture grass or hay by two weeks of age and grain within four. All dairy goats must have salt and fresh clean water. Mineral supplements are desirable.

Dairy goats have fastidious eating habits and are particular about the cleanliness of their food. Their natural curiosity may lead them to investigate newly found items by sniffing and nibbling, but they quickly refuse anything that is dirty or distasteful.



Dairy goats will graze grass pastures, but prefer to browse brushlands and a varied selection of pasture plants, including non-noxious weeds. Dairy goats seldom thrive when tethered. They may be kept in a dry lot if fed adequate roughage and allowed shade and space for exercise. Dairy goats are curious and agile and require well built fences for containment and protection from predators.

In temperate climates, one-half acre of land per milking goat should be plenty. Under arid conditions, people must guard against the danger of overgrazing. Overstocking in temperate climates is also bad for goats, since it increases reinfestation of internal parasites. Rotational pasturing is one of the successful controls.



Dairy goats can be kept successfully in all climates. They do not need elaborate housing, but do require clean, dry, well ventilated, draft free shelter. Dirt pen floors are preferred over cement. At least 15 square feet of bedded area should be provided for each goat. The outside exercise lot should provide a minimum of 25 square feet of space per animal, well-drained and properly fenced. Dairy goats have a strong herd instinct and prefer the companionship of at least one other goat.

Bucks should be kept in separate quarters away from milking does.



Compare Dairy Goats Lactation


The table below represent the lactation trend curve for goat  milk yield in total kg, over time, represents actual records in the database for selected  animals that had a record of 230-305 days in goat milk.


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


Breed,Length,d  Total milk,kg  Milk yield%, Milk fat%, Milk protein%, Lactose% Total%Energy


Alpine    248    106  2.66   3.33   3.10   4.53   11.05    679
Anglo-Nubian 270–305     592  0.90   3.71   3.29   4.23   12.10    716
Boer      –       –  1.72   5.88   4.02   4.95   14.73    907
Canaria (Canary)   251     183  0.79   3.96   3.72   4.66   12.77    754
Damascus   270     378  1.88   4.46   3.82   3.60   12.94    795
La Mancha 270–305 720-800  2,63   4.95   3.34      –   13.67    807
Maltese   250     283  2.23   3.77   3.14   4.60       –    713
Murciana-Granadina   231     368  1.70   4.59   3.48   4.84   13.01    788
Nordic 250–300 600-700  1.92   4.28   2.87   4.29   11.25    736
Saanen   250     615  2.55   3.28   2.94   4.28   11.52    667
Toggenburg   245     424  1.82   3.37   2.96   4,26   13.14    675


The six major dairy goat breeds are the Saanen, Nubian, Toggenburg, LaMancha, Oberhasli, and Alpine.


Volume and composition of milk produced is controlled by the goat’s genetics but greatly influenced by the diet consumed. To maintain milk production and good health, goats should be fed a diet balanced for energy, protein, minerals, and vitamins based on requirements. To reduce costs, forages such as hay, silage, and pasture should constitute a majority of the daily diet. Goats are efficient browsers and can select a high-quality diet from lower-quality forages, especially when consuming nontraditional pasture plants.


Supplementing the diet with grain mixes to provide additional energy and protein is important, especially during lactation. Grain mixes may also contain supplemental minerals and vitamins. Feeding grain should be limited because a high-grain diet with low fiber intake can lead to rumen health problems (e.g., indigestion, acidosis) and lower milk fat content. Availability of dietary energy is important for high milk yield, while protein and fiber affect milk quality. High-producing does require quality forages and supplemental grain at a rate of 1 pound per 2.5 to 3 pounds of milk. Forages generally do not contain sufficient minerals to meet dietary requirements, so supplements are usually required.


To ensure efficiency and productivity of a dairy goat enterprise, the three most important recommendations are as follows:


  • Manage young does to have them ready for breeding at 7 months of age. This increases the total lifetime herd production of milk and meat and reduces the number of non-producing animals in the herd at any one time.
  • Encourage freshening of the does over as wide a time span as possible. This provides the customers with a year-round source of milk.
  • Cull animals to eliminate low producers. This can increase the herd productivity if animals are culled for genetic reasons.