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Dairy Goats

These are the answers to some of our most commonly asked goat questions. But you can find a lot more information by checking out the Goats section of our website.

What type of goats to you have?

We raise Alpine Dairy goats. We love them because they are curious and friendly, they give lots of milk, and come in many different colors!

How many goats do you have?

The number of our goats varies greatly throughout the year as kids are born and sold. In 2014, we milked 16 goats and had about 30 kids born. In 2015, we milked 40 goats and had 72 kids born. And in 2016, we're milking 60 goats and have had just over 100 kids born. We increased the size of the herd so we could start offering food items such as goat milk candy and goat cheese. The number of goats we milk will not continue to rise this much.

Who milks the goats?

Everyone in the family knows how to milk, but the boys (Colter, Emery, Fletcher, Greyden, and Hewitt) do the majority of the milking. Goats thrive on routine so the boys each tend to milk the same goats every day.

How often do you milk?

The goats are milked twice a day (morning and evening). We milk for about 10 months of the year - starting in February and finishing in December. The goats are not milked for the last two months of their pregnancies.

How do you milk the goats?

Up until May 2016, the boys milked the goats by hand through a filter and into a stainless steel bucket. Now, we have a machine milking system where we can milk 16 goats at a time. The udders are cleaned and the inflations are attached. The milk is sent through stainless steel piping into a stainless steel, bulk, milk-holding tank where it is quickly chilled.

Any goats that just had babies or are sick still get hand-milked.

Do you eat your goats?

We are not vegetarians, but we do not eat our dairy goats. We bottle raise them and consider them part of the family.

What do you do with all the babies?

We keep some of them (to either grow the herd or replace older goats) and sell the rest. Many of them go to good homes for breeding purposes on small, backyard homesteads. Most of them are used for 4H, and the rest usually become pets or pack goats.

What happens to your older goats?

We often sell many of our goats as milkers before they get too old to be moved. Those goats we are unwilling to sell (because they're our favorites) stay here on the farm until they die of old age.

When does a goat start giving milk?

Goats start giving milk when they've had babies of their own. We breed the young does when they are about 7 months old and at least 70 pounds. They have a five month gestation and kid around their first birthdays.

Why do you bottle raise your baby goats?

There is a goat disease called CAE that is passed to baby goats through their mother's colostrum and milk. We started bottle-raising because we wanted to guarantee that we had a CAE-free herd.

Bottle Feeding Baby Goats

We discovered that the babies were a lot healthier and friendlier when we bottle-raised them than when they were dam-raised. Because we free-choice milk until all the baby-bellies are completely full, we know that each baby goat is getting enough milk. They don't have to compete with a sibling (or multiple siblings) to get their share of their dam's limited milk supply.

The babies are also able to go to their new homes sooner because they can be fed with a bottle. This is better because they can adjust and bond with their new family at an earlier age.

We also discovered that bottle-raised babies make better milkers. Since they are more comfortable with humans, they are more relaxed on the milk stand. Over the years, we've had a handful of times where we've missed the birth of the babies by anywhere from minutes to a couple of hours. When this has happened, we always find that those babies are the least friendly of that season's kids, even though they are all raised together, in otherwise the same manner.

Bottle-raising baby goats takes a lot more effort on our part, but it is worth it for the health and happiness of our goats!