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Hello from Anchorage, AK!
I finally have two Alpine does to call my own. It's been a long wait and the last few steps of the journey have been especially rocky BUT it has been a week and I feel somewhat satisfied and a little less mystified. Here are my biggest questions for the time being.
How do I train them to get onto my milking stand? They are used to being machine milked as a pair and I've witnessed them hopping onto their old stand without batting an eye. I have been resorting to lifting up their front half and grabbing for their tail to basically lift them onto my stand. Did I mention I myself am 22 weeks pregnant? Goat lifting is not a sport I will be able to participate in for much longer.
The noise. One of them is ridiculously noisy and it is incredibly annoying. I can't imagine what my neighbors must think. We are surrounded by neighbors and although it's legal to keep goats (as far as I can tell from the municipal code) noise complaints will not be tolerated. I should be able to do whatever I want on my own property but I don't want my exercise of freedom to step on the neighbors' right to a fairly peaceful existence. I know shock collars work for dogs and hot shots work for kicky milkers. Can I use a shock collar on a goat? It doesn't seem likely but ???
The subject of urban goats seems to be pretty hot right now but I'm not finding anything on landscaping or goat yards that are somewhat cute. Backyardchickens.com has unlimited ideas/examples for cute chicken coops and gardens. I realize that a lot of that is limited by the nature of goats, but there has to be some ideas for keeping up with the goat portion of the yard so it's not a total eyesore. Pinterest has failed my wildly. :facepalm:
Have I bitten off more than I can chew? I plan on breeding them in November and drying them up around my own due date so I'll have about 8 weeks postpartum time to not have to milk. This is baby #5 for us with the other kids ranging from 9-2 yrs old. We homeschool and are involved in a fair amount of activities. Does anyone else out there feel like they are almost neglecting their children to take care of/milk goats? I'm having a hard time with that guilt and then frustration because I don't know where to get my kids involved in the process. These are Alpines so they're not small. When my kids try to pet them the goats sort of butt their hands away. The thought has occurred more than once to start out in the spring with some (goat) kids that don't have any opinions or habits. Although, having an endless supply of milk right now is pretty awesome.
Thanks for any advice!
 

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Hmmm short answer to getting them on the stand is to hang a feed bucket offa it and they only get their sweet feed while on the stand being milked.

Newbies too a couple years ago- and our milker never would let anyone except our 9 year old milk her! She liked her small hands better!!

No other thoughts really, we have almost 2 acre pasture so it doesnt seem unsightly to me, but when they could get into the chicken yard they did make a mess and tear things up....
 

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Goats take as much time as you want them to take. They're livestock, not dogs :)

Right now my wife and I are getting used to taking care of our very first human baby. Our goats aren't in milk and we have very little time, so I figure I probably spend 15 minutes per day feeding, watering, and maintaining them. I rush through it as fast as I can because I have to prioritize my daughter. Once they're in milk they'll take more time, but for now I'm doing what I have to.
 

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On how to train them: use food. My Saanen doe had never been milked when I got her. She figured out *very quickly* that jumping up on the milk stand and putting her head through the stancheon (not to one side) got her a nice bucket of grain and alfalfa pellets. It takes time - they don't like change - but they are pretty smart and highly food motivated. I made sure she knew where the food was (I'd shake the bucket so she could hear/smell it), but don't let her have it until she assumes the position.

On the yelling: mine yelled a lot when I first got them, but barely make a peep now that they're well settled. You didn't say how long you've had them, but I'd give it a couple weeks maybe before you do anything drastic.

When they are new, goats are a LOT of time, because you are figuring out every little thing. It will get better. At this point, I can spend as little as an hour a day with my three - half an hour twice a day to milk and toss them hay. I felt like I was out there all day at first though and didn't know how I'd ever cut that time down. Some goats do not like to be patted. If these two turn out to have temperaments that you just can't stand, you can always save doe kids from them in the spring (bottle feed so the moms don't teach the daughters their mischievous ways), and sell the obnoxious ones once the better ones are in milk/bred.
 

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Advice on the petting...

My goats do not like having their ears or faces touched and they shake my hand away when I try. You need to pet them on their shoulder and sides. They tend to like that.

Also, your 9 year old should be able to help milk! Make it a family affair :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Just a couple minutes ago one of them walked up to my 2yr old and butted him in the face. Is that normal? I saw the whole thing and he literally did nothing to provoke it.
 

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I have had alpines like that. Some of them do not like new people. I don't tolerate it with children and the one that tried to butt my daughter and some other children that were here, moved to a dairy, where it wouldn't matter so much. In the meantime, I taught her to avoid that goat, and wouldn't allow her in the pen without me in there too. Maybe you should see if there is a different goat the breeder could trade you back for? You do have to be careful and cull hard for temperament on the alpines, but I have some that are very sweet, some indifferent, and occasionally total biotches. My Nigerians are typically either the sweetest things or just kinda aloof, but not mean, and are a great size for children...maybe you should look into them as well...there's a gal with good milkers near you: http://fairskiesalaska.com/. Maybe your goat will turn out okay, though after settling in some. And as to the noisy one, she may settle down too (are they the same goat?). Alpines are USUALLY one of the more quiet breeds...but can be noisy if they are stressed (moved, just kidded, etc.). And there are a few loud ones, just not that common for the breed.
 

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Goats love routine. Get them on a schedule and they should be fine. I would keep the smaller ones away from them until they are tied or on the milk stand. Any aggression should be met with a verbal reprimand or a shove with your hand. They are nervous and trying to create a pecking order. Goats are like chickens in that manner and can be quite mean to each other and smaller beings. They will be worth the work in terms of what they will give to you and your children.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for all the advice everyone!
Nancy- yes the noisemaker and buttface are one in the same. I was sold on the Alpine breed because I was pretty sure I would be doing this with a neighbor factor and I want to be a decent neighbor, not the one who inspires her neighbors to become anti urban homesteading activists. Would Alpines benefit from a playground of sorts? My husband has access to a kinds of wooden electric spools. I didn't think the bigger goats cared all that much for jumping and climbing around. Would taking them on walks help? There's a nice trail and park right outside our door. But it is busy with lots of dogs on walks.
I knit and when people find out they sometimes want me to teach them. Right away I'll tell them that they have to really want it cause of they don't really, really want it it'll be too frustrating and they'll give up. Goating is a much, much, MUCH larger endeavor than knitting could ever be (and I like the EXPENSIVE yarn so...) and I'm trying to differentiate between real roadblocks and frustrations.
 

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Two year old children new to goats should not have access to goats who are new to children.

Too much anxiety on the goat's part. Not enough experience on the child's part.

Take it slowly and introduce them with you CLOSE by.

You'll get the hang of this. Think safety and accept the learning curve. :)
 

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I can tell you what I did to train unruly goats. I had just started raising goats and wasn't sure which breed I wanted; so I took an Alpine doe, a Nubian doe and a Toggenburg doe, breeding all by an Alpine buck I had to drive over 5 hrs to and from. All these does were 2+ years old!

The Alpine doe didn't want to come with me and had to be chased down when I picked her up initially. The Nubian doe would not stop pestering me, i.e. putting her chin upon my chest and looking into my eyes as though to say "take me please". The Toggenburg doe was given to me because she gave over 2 gallons of milk a day and was difficult to deal with, especially when milking.

I constructed my milk stand from a portion of the floor space, which was about 2 ft off ground. The entrance to this area literally placed the goat on that floor; and the pan of grain setting strategically took her right over to where I could place a short chain around her neck. Then the 2 ft side board I placed at that point kept her from moving around on that side and the "dirt" floor 2 ft down from that floor kept her from moving on that side much. That meant the only way a reluctant milker to go was FORWARD AND UP, which was stopped by the wall of that room. So the hardest doe to milk could do nothing to stop me from milking her. Poor goats as I was learning and I know I made many mistakes during this process.

The other things I did was to keep these new does confined in a 16 x 10 building adjacent to a 30 x 30 pen, which let me socialize with them well. It really did not take long for those 3 to love me. The Alpine turned out to be my helper in that she would stand around while I trimmed hooves and talk to any goat that would give me problems until they stood still. The Nubian was spoiled rotten yet actually butted a large playful dog off me...3 times she butted that dog until the dog got the message. The Toggenburg would initially try to bite me; and when she did I'd kiss her on the nose. She often would get between me and a dog running in my direction.

So what I'm saying is this: If you structure your milk stand in such a way that provides few alternatives other than to stand still and if you take time to let the goats get to know you are their protector and the one who feeds them, you will more than likely find your new goats will fall all over themselves to please you. (As for children, they all need to respect the goat as much as you expect the goats to respect them.)
 

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We take our time with ours most of the time because we don't have children at home, but on the weekends when we have grandchildren visiting it can get hectic. I enjoy my goat milking time when we have company because it's an excuse to get out of the house for an hour and get some peace and quiet. My 3 year old granddaughter has really enjoyed "helping" me milk a couple of times but she's starting to get bored with it about halfway through milking, then she goes outside to play. It's so cute when I ask her "Autumn, where does milk come from?" and she says "Goats!" The first time somebody tries to tell her milk comes from cows she's going to correct them, I'm sure.

We make goat milk baby formula for 2 grandbabies under the age of one and they are both very happy fat babies. One of their mothers didn't want to nurse and the other wanted to but her milk dried up early. Their pediatrician is very supportive of the formula. They both had a lot of digestive problems with store-bought baby formula (1st ingredient in all the store bought stuff is corn syrup, by the way). One of them had been tried on every different formula and had even been sent to a pediatric digestive specialist over 8 hours away, without success. Literally within 5 days of starting on the goat formula all of her problems resolved. The other one was having a lot of constipation and had an eczema-like rash from head to toe. His constipation was resolved the first day on it and the eczema cleared up within 2 weeks. If you want the recipe look on Mount Capra's website - it was developed by a nutritionist.

Milk goats are a pretty big responsibility. There have been a few times I just really had to drag myself outside to milk them and we had two with mastitis this year because we were late milking them one morning.

Whatever you do, keep up with the cleaning. I clean mine every Mon., Wed., and Fri now and it only takes 10 minutes. At first we thought we could use the "deep litter method" and only clean every two weeks. The fumes were toxic. I felt awful for the poor goats - we didn't smell it when we came in the barn, the smell didn't become obvious until we started shoveling but I'm sure down at ground level where they were sleeping it was unpleasant. You don't need to be breathing those fumes when you're pregnant.
 
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