Starting with dairy goats

Discussion in 'Goats' started by Oceanrose, Apr 5, 2005.

  1. Oceanrose

    Oceanrose Driftin' Away

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    I want to get a small dairy goat herd to provide milk for cheese, soap, and for my dogs. But, I keep having more and more questions.

    First: are cattle panels decent fencing for goats? I can't seem to find sheep panels around me. I'm looking into combo (cow/pig) panels too.

    Second: What breed is the best. Yeah, I know, it depends on what you like, but I'm having a hard time getting info, especially on temperament. I originally was looking at mini-nubians but am now thinking that a larger breed would be better. I live in Northern IA, so we do get cold winters. I've heard nubians aren't great milkers, what about alpines? I'd consider a sanaan too. I don't really care for the looks of the lamanchas.

    Registered vs grade: I am interested in pedigrees etc but I know I'm not going to get time to show them. But does it make a difference in selling kids etc?

    And last, is there anyone around Iowa that'd be interested in taking me on as a student? I prefer to be around animals before buying them but I'd travel to the right herd/person.

    Thanks!

    Heather
     
  2. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Nubians are great milkers....high butterfat for making cheese, good temperment and withstand easily at -30 in a decent barn...frostbitten ears sometimes.

    I have crossed my herd with a toggy/alpine for a thicker coat. Mostly the girls are 75% Nubian. You can and will get more money for pedigree but I find it hard to sell a $400 goat but much easier 75 -100$.

    Sannans have better volume. Alpines are hardiest. Toggenburgs can have off tasting milk. I like crossing but mine are for milk and meat...not showing. You may want to start with crosses and go "bigger and better" from there. Less investment and/or possible loss.
     

  3. gccrook

    gccrook Well-Known Member

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    I use cattle panels for my goats. Thay work fine with one exception. The little babies can get through for a couple of weeks. Easy to fix for us. Combo would probably fix that problem.

    I can't tell you what breed is best. You will get many opinions on that. I have nubians, and some are great milkers, and some are not. The milk is good, and we get plenty from the 4 we milk for us and to sell a little. I did not spend the money to get really good milkers. you sort of get what you pay for.

    If I was in Iowa, I would love to have you come down to milk for me. I cannot go anywhere for more than the day, because I have to milk them every morning, and one I milk 2 times per day. I have no one right now that can milk for me.
     
  4. AnnaS

    AnnaS Well-Known Member

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    I use some cattle panels with no problems, but I wouldn't use them if I had horned goats. I can guarantee they'd get stuck!

    The different breeds do milk differently- here's the numbers. These are herds on milk test so your results may vary...

    http://adga.org/DHIR/ADGABreedAverages03.htm

    I have Toggs, and did have off tasting milk until I switched to a goat specific mineral instead of a sheep/goat mineral. Dark colored goats need more copper than light ones, and copper defenciency will give you ishy milk. With a goat mineral, it is like Jersey milk, maybe sweeter. They are very affectionate and are in an unheated barn in the winter (in MN). I do put coats on them at -30 though.

    Registered vs. grade- A grade goat with an unknown heritage is a gamble. Her udder might hold up, or it could be dragging on the ground at age 3. She might milk great- or she might turn all that feed into fat and insist on drying up at 100 days. She could be a great bargain or a money pit. A registered goat can be bad too, but the information to judge her by is available.

    As far as what breed might be best? Figure out where you'll get buck service first and then buy does. If I'd known there is a world class Saanen herd down the road, I would've bought Saanen does and used those bucks. Toggs are not common in MN and I have to look to find a good buck.

    You might want to get in touch with these folks: Iowa Dairy Goat Assoc.George Altheide 319-524-1217 pgalthei@interl.net

    How close are you to MN? Poplar Hill/Maefskys is in Scandia, by the Twin Cities, they are a grade A goat dairy with Alpines, Toggs, Saanens and Nubians. They do farm tours so although it might not be the apprenticeship you're looking for, it could be hugely informative. (And they have a LOT of kids for sale!) www.poplarhill.com
     
  5. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Hi Heather!

    YES! Combo panels are the way to go - if it weren't for the short size, I'd say do hog panels, but in reality it just gives them something to jump over. But the combo panels are great.

    I have both Nubians and Saanens, registered and grade. Nubians are great milkers, they just don't produce quite as *much* as the Saanens do...every goat is different and some of the record holders are Nubians, if I recall correctly. They have a higher butterfat content in their milk and make really yummy cheese! Compare Nubians and Saanens in the goat family to Jerseys and Holsteins of the cow family. I actually have one experimental that is half Nubian and half Saanen who is due to kid in a few more weeks - I'm hoping to ge tthe best of both breeds out of her! :)

    I am in Northwest Iowa and they do great over the winter. How far are you from West Bend? I'd be glad to show you around and give some pointers, etc. I work from home so am generally around. I have kids due for arrival out of my registered Saanen doe this weekend (Saturday is the due date, but every doe is different and I didn't exactly "time" her last year! So it could go a few days either direction). By next week I will be milking and bottle feeding kids.

    I think that, in this area, it doesn't necessarily matter about registered or grade for selling kids, but it all depends on what *you* want to get out of them. Registered go for higher with the right pedigree or nothing at all with the wrong pedigree. Unregistered are generally sold as meat animals unless you have excellent milking records from the parents, grandparents, etc. to show that they are worth more than just meat *and* you find a buyer who also doesn't care about the registration part.

    Let me know where you are located - I also have a few other people who could possibly help you out, depending on your location!

    -Sarah
     
  6. Oceanrose

    Oceanrose Driftin' Away

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    Should I run an electric wire inside the panels to be on the safe side? Or will they not try to climb them? (so says the person whose main hobby is keeping her blooming dogs in their fenced area.. I can just now see them breaking out together to play...)

    Also, I'm planning on having a couple geese, chickens and ducks have access to the same pasture. I'm assuming they'll be OK together or at least ignore each other?

    I just e-mailed Poplar Hills, their farm tour is 50.00 or free if you buy a goat. I'll see what they have available.

    What is the temperament difference between the Nubians and the Alpines?
     
  7. bethlaf

    bethlaf Homegrown Family

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    temperment is a general indicator of any animal , i find most all goats are the same , needy !!!!!
    the bottle fed ones more than others, and the best milkers are the most demanding of all , seems to go with the territory,
    my girls are l ike mini clocks, of course thier alarm for milking goes off about an hour early :D
    my husband affectionately calls the goats "grain ****s" cause they will do jsut about anything for a little extra , and its true
    nubians have a reputation for being loud, but honestly i have had saanens and alpines that are every bit as noisy as any nubian , and i have actually had quiet nubians too....
    right now my herd is all alpines, just luck , not by plan ,
    my chickens and ducks go through the fences and eat in the goat pen just fine , its not the best thing, but its hard to stop them too , luckily i havent had any ill kids from this
    as for running the hot wire on the inside of the cattle panels, i say yes, but thats becausei have found the only way to truly keep the goats fenced is to run woven wire or cattle panels and hot wire both
     
  8. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    An electric wire on the inside sure won't hurt. Every set of goats is different and some will try to escape *any* enclosure, while others appear to be perfectly happy wherever they are penned. I have a combination of these. No electric wire and everyone is *mostly* happy to stay put...except for Ginger who likes to squeeze her little self through the tiniest opening next to the automatic waterer so she can go play with the sheep in *their* pasture. She doesn't leave the fences, but picks and chooses which side she wants to be on at any given time.

    And some goats are climbers and will scale the fence to get to the grass on the other side. So maybe run a single electric at nose level to prevent that?

    Sarah
     
  9. AnnaS

    AnnaS Well-Known Member

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    I have chickens and goats on the same pasture. The main problem is keeping the chickens from roosting where they will mess on the goats or on the hay. My chickens eat a lot of goat manure, waste alfalfa, and flies/fly eggs so the chickens and goats really compliment each other.
    I HAD ducks but they were way too messy. They dirtied all the drinking water and competed with the goats for grass. Smoked duck is really good.

    Wow, I didn't know Poplar Hills charged for farm tours. But I reckon you would get $50 worth of info from Vince. He started homesteading with a couple of goats in the 70's and just kept growing. He & his family have done it all with goats of all breeds. Coming from a non-farm background, they have a few unorthodox but very successful methods. They feed corn as roughage and alfalfa as concentrate for one thing.

    As far as temperment... I have not owned either Nubians or Alpines, but I hear a lot of Nubian jokes at conferences. Whatever their personality quirks, it hasn't hurt their popularity one bit!
     
  10. Oceanrose

    Oceanrose Driftin' Away

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    That's what I was thinking, just 1 at nose height to keep them away from it a bit.

    I sent you a PM btw :)

     
  11. windyhollowfarm

    windyhollowfarm Well-Known Member

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    Nubians are very "human-like". All of my ladies have different personalities. They can be very dramatic, and some lines are noisy. They are very loving, and I like the fact they "talk" to me when I speak with them. Nubians seem to think they are royalty.

    I *think* that Alpines are known to be a little more aggressive with other goats in terms of fighting. I have heard that, but I have never owned an Alpine.