Lactation length

Discussion in 'Goats' started by trickham, Dec 29, 2004.

  1. trickham

    trickham Well-Known Member

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    Ok, although I have had meat goats for awhile, I don't own a milk goat. However, I am considering buying one this next spring, and I have a question about lactation length. Every one I have heard talk about it on here so far mentions a 10 1/2 month lactation. Then today I saw a reference to a 20-22 month lactation. Why do most people use the shorter lactation? What are the advantages and disadvantages of both lactation lengths?

    Thanks :)
     
  2. mary,tx

    mary,tx Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'd say it depends largely on the goat. I'm pretty sure none of mine would last past the ten months. By then their milk production has substantially decreased.
    I'm thinking those who have goats that'll milk two years well without freshening like to brag about it, so you hear more about it. I don't believe most do. jmo.
    mary
     

  3. Vicki McGaugh TX Nubians

    Vicki McGaugh TX Nubians Well-Known Member

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    Like Mary my Nubians are milking so poorly by 10 months, but then it's also because they are nearing 3 months bred. I really only have one Nubian doe who has a will to milk like this and would likely milk forever not ever being bred again. Now the swiss breeds and especially LaMancha's, we milked several crosses of Lamanchas when my daughters and I dairied and they easily milked through, including their pregnancies, using colostrum from other does for their kids. Swiss breeds are the milkers of the goat world, they are just not as popular as Nubians.

    The biggy here would be if you don't have kid sales as your major cash crop, than of course keeping them milking is fine. And a doe who milks for several years at 5 pounds a day is much better than a doe who peaks at 9 pounds then is milking 4 pounds unbred 5 or 10 months later. Long level lactations would be a must. The real problem here would be of course finding stock like this, you would want to purchase first fresheners who have not been ruined by pet homes. A doe who is taught to milk for 3 or 4 months than dried up will never have a good strong level lactation ever again. We also know that breeding your milker to a meat goat or a to a buck with a really poor milk bloodline (a billy goat :), will give you a doe who will never milk to her potential.

    I need the break, I milk for sales from March until the first week of December, all of December the milk goes in the freezer for me to make soap, lotion, cheese and to drink, then all the girls are dry and I do the happy dance until end of Feb and first of March when the does all kid (my cash crop) and I am chained to the milkroom again :) Vicki
     
  4. Tracy in Idaho

    Tracy in Idaho Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My Alpines would milk through pretty easily I think. So would my Snubian doe. But like Vicki, I need those kids to sell every year -- and the time off! My dh might just lynch me if I told him we were milking through! :haha:

    Tracy
     
  5. trickham

    trickham Well-Known Member

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    Thanks to everybody for their input. :)

    Although I would not necessarily need the income from the kid from one doe (that's all i'm considering at this point, although if one goes well there will be more) because milk for family use is the main goal, I might go ahead and dry her off and kid her every year in hopes of getting a doeling out of her to add to the milk string. I would prefer to try a Swiss breed, hopefully Oberhasli.

    Vicki, did I understand you correctly that breeding a milk doe to a meat buck would cause her to have a lower lactation? Or does that just apply to her offspring?

    Thanks again. :)
     
  6. Vicki McGaugh TX Nubians

    Vicki McGaugh TX Nubians Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it's fairly well known in the dairy cattle industry and there is several articles I have read over the years in Hoards regarding this...placental hormones impacting the milking ability of the cow/doe...in her and of course in her offspring. Here's a blurb from a dairy goat study, theres actually lots of information now out on this that there wasn't before via the internet, I looked into this at first thinking what a load of #%^ it was, but I will eat crow with the best of them and admit when I don't know what I am talking about. Ironically, if not embarassingly enough the "poor milking ability buck" the Alpine guy chose to use back then was a Nubian :) No Boers to pick on that long ago :) The higher peaks aren't that big of a deal but the length of that level lactation is what will kill the pocketbook for me. In family type situation, unless she simply won't milk past the 3 or 4 months would be the only consideration. After this info became talked about again, most of my cronies who routinely bred their first fresheners to boers stopped this practice. Including me. Vicki


    > Why does it affect the milk?

    The chemical stimulus for udder development prior to freshening

    comes from
    the placenta and the effect is really important in the first-

    freshener who
    is developing an udder for the first time. The placenta has the

    genetics of
    the fetus - half from the dam and half from the service sire. This

    has been
    researched and known in dairy cattle breeding for many years.

    Sometime in
    the '80s David Funk in New York tested it out in his herd. He bred

    sets of
    twin and triplet doelings to very dairy bucks and to bucks with low

    genectic
    potential for milk production, for their first freshening. His

    results were
    published in DGJ and DGG. There were charts showing that the

    sisters bred to
    the dairy bucks had higher peak production and sustained a better

    lactation
    curve than the does bred to the non-dairy bucks. If I remember

    correctly,
    the does bred to non-dairy bucks didn't even average 10-month

    lactations. He
    carried the experiment on to the second freshening and found that

    the effect
    of the non-dairy buck on the initial udder development carried

    through to
    subsequent lactations. Does bred to dairy bucks the first time and

    non-dairy
    bucks the second time still had higher peaks and sustained

    lactation than
    the does bred to a non-dairy buck the first time and a dairy buck

    for the
    second lactation.

    MJ
     
  7. trickham

    trickham Well-Known Member

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    Vicki,

    Wow.....I never would have thought that it would make that much difference. Thanks for pointing that out. :)
     
  8. Tricia Smith

    Tricia Smith Member

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    Hmm... I didn't mean to sound like I was bragging about long lactations! It's just the way I'm trying to manage my herd of Oberhaslis. I actually wasn't sure it would be practical but after reading Pat Coleby's book "Natural Goat Care", I decided to see if alternate year freshening would work with my herd.

    The primary advantages for me are a lighter kidding season with less pressure on barn space and a more level milk supply throughout the year. The disadvantages are fewer kid sales and the lack of a dry season. However, milking only half the does at this time of year does seem luxurious!

    It is truly great to see the lactation curves rise again in the spring!

    Tricia Smith
    Carlisle Farmstead Cheese / Shadowfax Oberhaslis
    Carlisle MA
     
  9. Hank - Narita

    Hank - Narita Well-Known Member

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    Our goats slow down about the 7th month. If you milked 3 times a day and kept good alfalfa in front of them constantly maybe you might milk through. I need the rest too and would like to get away once in awhile. The summer is also busy with the market garden. Vicki, do you have a good recipe for hand lotion? My neighbor makes soap but we don't care for it. Living in AZ we do use a lot of hand lotion. Our goats are Alpines by the way.