Increasing Milk Production

Discussion in 'Goats' started by noname, May 11, 2006.

  1. noname

    noname Well-Known Member

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    I've got 2 Toggs that just aren't giving me much milk . . .

    I only milk once a day since I work evenings, but one little girl is only giving me a pound - sometimes less - per milking. She gave 4 pounds a day last year (being milked twice a day) according to the records (I just bought them this spring). Her sister is giving me about 1 1/2 pounds and is a first freshener. They get as much goat ration as they will eat at milking time, free choice hay, salt, and bicarb, and of course all the water they will drink. I tried adding BOSS since I've heard they help with milk production, but they don't seem to like them. Both goats seem healthy, act fine, and are at an appropriate weight.

    Any suggestions for getting them to make more milk? I have a little boy who's allergic to cow milk, so I really need as much as I can get; otherwise I'd start to wonder if it's even worth milking them. I've had pygmies for years but milk goats are new to me. Any suggestions?
     
  2. Westwood

    Westwood Well-Known Member

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    Milking once a day will cause a doe to dry off. Milk twice a day for production, and you might even milk 3 times a 24 hour period and you might possibly increase production.
     

  3. noname

    noname Well-Known Member

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    OK, so here's my problem. I work 3 days a week. When I work I'm gone from noon till 4am. The other 4 days of the week I could easily milk twice. I don't have anyone else in the family willing to / capable of milking. I've been afraid to start milking more than once a day because there's 3 days a week when I can't. I guess I could milk at 4am when I get home, but I really don't want to be up that late when I'm off. How badly will I screw these poor little goats up if I'm always milking at different times?
     
  4. Westwood

    Westwood Well-Known Member

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    As long as you can milk reasonably close to 12/12 (within 2 hours or so) you'll do ok.
     
  5. Blue Oak Ranch

    Blue Oak Ranch Well-Known Member

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    How old is your older goat, and how many freshenings?

    Has she been dewormed? Carrying a worm load will definitely drag down her production.

    Another thing - you said her records were from last year. 4lbs is a bit low, but can be average for a smallish first freshener. Has she been milking all that time (milked through) or did she kid this year too? If she didn't kid this year yet, could she be pregnant and due to kid soon? Most goats will start to dry up naturally 1-2 months before freshening again. The growing babies need the nutrition.

    Milk production is a pretty heritable trait - if you want high milk production make sure the parents' bloodlines have good milk records. Milking once a day will definitely cut into the amount you get per day, but I'd still expect more than 1.5lbs from a first freshener (unless she's due to kid again soon, as stated above). All things being equal, what you've said about these two makes me think the breeder was culling them for poor production.

    My first freshening Mini Nubians this year were milking over 5lbs and 7lbs (peaked over 8), respectively.

    Cheers!

    Katherine
     
  6. noname

    noname Well-Known Member

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    The older one is almost 3 and has freshened twice.

    They've been dewormed.

    They both had kids in Feb. and have not been bred since, so I know they're not pregnant.

    I got them from a friend who just milks for her family as well, so I'm not sure about them being culled for poor production vs. she knew I needed milk for my little boy and was trying to help me out. I honestly think she thought they'd do fine.

    So on the days I work I'd milk 10-11am and then not till 4am. When I'm off I could milk 10-11am and pm. Do you think that would work?
     
  7. Westwood

    Westwood Well-Known Member

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    Milke at least twice a day and you'll keep your doe in production. If she's milked OUT at least twice a day, she shouldn't decrease production. The trouble is, one you've only milked once a day, bringing her back into production during lactation is more problematic than keeping her in production. Think of it this way. The more you milk, the more you get up to her genetic production level. The less you take, the less she'll produce. If her udder is full, and isn't relieved, she'll produce less.
     
  8. cmharris6002

    cmharris6002 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You could try adding alfalfa to their diet. I think if you give them free choice (start slowly) alfalfa and make sure they are not getting too much grain (2-3lbs/2xday is plenty) you will have a better chance increasing production. Also, you grain mix should NOT contain molasses. Feed high in molasses will adversely effect milk production too.

    More alfalfa and less grain = more milk :)
     
  9. goatmarm

    goatmarm Well-Known Member

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    What does the udder feel like when the girls are milked? If it still seems rather firm after they have given you the 1-1 1/2 pounds they may be "holding back" because you are new to them, or they could have mastitis. Try to loosen up the udder by milking more frequently and applying warm towels to the udder+ massage. If the warmth and massage doesn't help, she may need antibiotics, like TODAY(teat infusion).
    I agree with the others though, milking once daily, unless kids are still nursing, will encourage the doe to start to dry up. She probably won't dry up for a while as long as you keep milking every day, but don't expect to get a lot. I milk once daily, in the mornings, but the kids nurse from their dam for the rest of the day. Once kids are weaned, I will be milking twice daily.
     
  10. IDgoats

    IDgoats Active Member

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    Are the kids still nursing? they can take alot of milk once they get 3/4 months old.

    dan
     
  11. noname

    noname Well-Known Member

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    The kids are gone.

    Their udders are nice and soft when I'm done. I'm sure they're milked out. They were holding back on me the first few days I had them, but they've been here a month now and seem to be adjusted to life around our place.

    Are alfalfa pellets ok? No one around here has alfalfa hay. Should I mix the alfalfa pellets with the grain or feed them free choice? They only eat about 2 lbs or so of the goat ration I give them. The younger one eats a little less than that, but she's kind of on the small side. She also has pretty small teats and is a bit more hyper, and so is the hardest to milk, and yet she gives me the most. The nice big calm one that I wouldn't mind milking for 30 minutes is the one who's giving me the least. Doesn't that just figure?

    Anyway, I guess I will just have to resign myself to milking at 4am when I get home from work, and right before I go to bed the rest of the week. I was being a little selfish and thinking I might sleep LOL.
     
  12. Kazahleenah

    Kazahleenah Disgruntled citizen

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    Being fed free choice grain..... are they overweight? That'll also decrease milk production....

    Kaza
     
  13. cmharris6002

    cmharris6002 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I give my girls free choice alfalfa pellets. I really prefer them to alfalfa hay as they tend to consume more and waste less. Just start them slowly, like all they can eat in 10min. then 15min. for a few days that should get them used to it.

    When I switched from a molasses based feed, Purina Goat Chow, and alfalfa hay to COB/BOSS and pellets I got an increase of 2lbs/day/goat. My first freshener went from 8lbs/day to 10lbs/day!

    Good luck :)
     
  14. dezeeuwgoats

    dezeeuwgoats Well-Known Member

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    Not intended to hijack - cmharris: do you know why the molasses causes less milk production?? I'm very curious. I am paying much more for a goat grain specifically formulated for dairy goats, that my goats seem to prefer. However, it does seem to have a lot of molasses. I do have access to another type of goat grain, which has less molasses in it and is cheaper - I'm sure my girls will have a fit initially, but they'll get over it eventually.

    niki
     
  15. TexCountryWoman

    TexCountryWoman Gig'em

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    If they were my goats, in your situation, this is what I would do:

    Alfalfa pellets!!!!!!!!

    Start slowly and then up them to free choice. They have to have calcium to make milk. You should notice a big difference in milk production. Alfalfa pellets are the backbone of my feeding program, I would be lost without them!

    I milk once a day for months and months and my Lamanchas DO NOT DRY UP! If you are unable to milk twice a day, you will become frustrated and may give up entirely. Don't give up! Perhaps you could start them on the alfalfa pellets and milk twice a day for a short time to get that milk a-flowing again then go to once a day on a regular schedule, just don't skip a day. remember, free-choice alfalfa pellets after they are used to them

    Grain them only on the milkstand and then an evening feeding with no more than a total of 3-4 lbs a day total each. I use whole clean oats 4 parts to 1 part corn with a handfull of BOSS (Black Oil Sunflower Seeds-shells and all) also a handfull of beetpulp when i have it. NO MOLASSES...it is not good for the rumen and makes the milk off flavoured.

    Empty the udder completely, massage it when you think you are done and bring out more milk. Don't be rough, just a bit firm a few times til it all comes down. Supply and demand. An adrenaline rush in the goat stops the milk, so keep things mellow.

    Anyway, that is what I would do.
     
  16. noname

    noname Well-Known Member

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    The grain is fed free choice only for as long as they're on the milking stand - ie. all they will eat in the 20 min or so it takes to milk them. They eat around 2 lbs of it apiece. They don't have grain when they're not being milked. They're not overweight. Sometimes I think my littlest girl could stand to eat a bit more of the grain than she does.

    I tried giving them BOSS mixed with the grain, but they don't seem to like it. They pick around it in the pan.

    COB? I'm sure I know what that is somewhere in the back of my mind, but my brain is not processing it right now LOL

    I haven't looked at the grain label for molasses, but I will check. They eat Dumor Goat Feed. Diane's oat/corn mix would probably be cheaper for me, and I always have beet pulp for our old horse. Maybe they'll learn to like the BOSS.

    I really appreciate all the suggestions. I have to go to the feed store later today, so I will buy some alfalfa pellets and get something to mount on the wall that they can't poop in . . .

    Niki, I'm not at all sensitive to my threads being hijacked because I learn from it too, so go ahead. :)
     
  17. TexCountryWoman

    TexCountryWoman Gig'em

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    COB= Corn/Oats/Barley

    I could never figure that out til awhile back.

    I can't get barley around here, the feedstore folks all thought we were nuts for even asking for it, so i substitute oats for the barley and just use Corn/oats/oats

    I usually use alot more oats than corn because corn is low protein and i just use it to cut costs. I have been known to just feed oats as my grain with just a few sunflower seeds thrown in as a top dressing and a handfull of beet pulp...just make your grain changes slowly. It won't hurt anything if your girls won't eat the BOSS, but they are high protein and high fat and good roughage.
     
  18. cmharris6002

    cmharris6002 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have only recently learned about mixing my own grain and what COB is myself :p I thought I was giving my goats the best with the Goat Chow until I ran into some problems with one of my does. She turned out to be my ‘canary in the coal mine’ and I had to rework my feeding program.

    The problems with molasses are,

    1. It is used to mask poor quality grain
    2. It is a cheap, inferior source of iron
    3. It acidifies the rumen which lowers milk production, causes stress, kills off beneficial bacteria and decreases the absorption of nutrients including the iron so does fed molasses often anemic
     
  19. dk_40207

    dk_40207 Well-Known Member

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    hmmmm. This is an interesting thread. Since you aren't sensitive to hijacking ;) I'll ask a few feed related questions myself.

    As far as the BOSS goes....does anyone know what type of sunflower you grow to grow your own seeds, or can they eat the regular type of seeds(the ones we eat in the black/white shells)?
    How 'bout fresh fodder crops? I've found little info on actually growing fodder/sugar beets and other fodders for goats. Would the moisture content of fresh beets versus beet pulp make any difference?
     
  20. dezeeuwgoats

    dezeeuwgoats Well-Known Member

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    So if all this is true about molasses......WHY do we feed it to does right after they have kidded???

    dk - I think BOSS have a higher oil content than other sunflowerseeds....And FYI - they grow VERY easily, LOL. I've got them all over my place, from spilling feed (on purpose - I really like sunflowers and they make great shade here in the desert. I just water them when I water the animal pen! I've also got them in my pasture - from the chicken tractor left-overs....my chickens are ninies who refuse to eat them, but I tried for a couple days - now I have perfectly rectangular sunflower 'gardens' back there.

    niki