How Soon Should You Begin Milking Your Goat After Kidding?

When a female goat has freshened (given birth) how soon can you begin milking her to supply your own family’s dairy needs or to improve the dairy production of your farm business? The answer to this question varies depending on a number of factors. In this article, we explore these variables and provide sound advice on when to start milking a goat after kidding. Read on to learn more.

How Do You Plan On Raising The Baby Goats?

how do you plan on raising the baby goats

The time to start milking your goat depends on how you plan to take care of the baby goats. There are several different ways to raise baby goats.

You can simply leave them with their mother until she weans them, wean them early, allow them access to mom on a schedule or hand feed them using a bottle (which means you can start milking the goat almost immediately). You may also choose to use a combination of these methods.

There are good things and bad things about each of these methods.

1. Allow the dam to raise the babies naturally

Some goat raisers simply leave the babies with their mother and begin milking her after the babies are naturally weaned. This usually happens when the kids are two or three months old. By this time, they should be eating grain and hay without trouble and will no longer need their mother.

Allowing the babies to be raised by the mother saves you time and effort, but you will have a significant wait before you can make use of the goat’s milk, and your doe’s milk production levels will have diminished after the babies are weaned.

2. Allow the dam to raise the babies on a schedule

With this method, after the kids are about four weeks old, you begin separating them from the mother during the day. They should not be left alone, but if they are with other kids and have plenty of starter grain and hay to eat, they will be fine.

At the end of the day, milk the doe and then put the kid back in with her. She will still have enough milk for the baby during the night. At the age of eight weeks, the kids can be weaned, and you can begin milking the doe two times a day.

3. Hand feed with a bottle

Large commercial dairy operations do this automatically to prevent the possibility of any disease transmission. You might choose to do this if the doe has any sort of disease that might be passed on to the babies through the milk.

If your doe has been diagnosed with an illness such as Caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE) or Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL), you should remove the babies immediately after birth and bottle feed them with formula or milk from a healthy doe. You can begin milking her right away as these illnesses do not affect humans.

In addition to preventing disease transmission, bottle feeding results in friendly, easy-to-handle adult goats, but some people feel that bottle babies do not thrive. In this case, engaging the help of a nanny goat may be in order.

4. Combine allowing the doe to raise the baby with bottle feeding

With this method, you allow the kid to nurse freely for the first few days, ensuring that it gets a good dose of first milk (colostrum) which is essential for a strong immune system.

After a few days, you begin separating the doe and kid during the daytime, and you bottle feed the baby while it is separated from its mother.

With this method, you can begin milking earlier, and the kid can be weaned from the mother completely within a few weeks, as long as bottle feeding continues.

If you show your doe, this is a good method because it allows the doe to enter the show ring with a stretched udder, which is more impressive to the judges.

What’s The Best Method?

The method you choose depends on your purpose in keeping goats, your goals, your schedule, the weather and your personal preferences (among many considerations).

If you are keeping your goats mostly as pets, allowing the mother to raise the baby naturally is easy and fun to watch. Likewise, if you are experiencing inclement weather in your area at kidding time, letting mom do the work may be the most practical choice.

If you are keeping goats for dairy production (here’s an article on goat cheese), bottle raising or a combination method may be all in a day’s work and may result in a significant increase in production.

You may use one method one time and a completely different method another time, depending upon your situation. It is perfectly reasonable to make this choice on a case-by-case basis.

When To Start Milking A Goat After Kidding {Video}

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it alright to milk a nanny goat?

You can begin milking a nanny goat when her kids are no longer entirely dependent upon her for sustenance. This is called the freshening portion of the milk cycle. This can take up to twelve weeks.

2. Can’t a goat produce enough milk for her kids and for milking?

Sometimes this is possible, but it is very dependent upon the type of goat, the number of kids and the amount of milk the individual doe is able to produce. This varies greatly from one nanny goat to another and from one situation to another, so it is very important that you accurately assess your situation before placing added demands on your nanny goat while she is nursing babies. It’s best to make sure the kids are getting the milk they need to thrive.

3. What is the best diet for goat milk production?

After your nanny goat gives birth, you should increase her feed ration to be sure that she is getting plenty of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Remember that caring for a kid and producing milk both require a great deal of energy. Talk with your vet about using a high protein feed (14-16%) during this time. Be sure your nanny goat has constant access to grass hay and a generous portion of alfalfa hay daily.

4. How long does a baby goat need to nurse?

Goat kids will typically attain most or all of their nourishment from mom for six-to-eight weeks.

5. When can a kid be separated from the doe?

It is possible to wean a baby goat at between six and eight weeks; however, longer is usually better. If you can wait for 3 months (12 weeks) that’s preferable. Then you can be sure that the kid has learned to eat on its own well enough to survive and thrive.

3 thoughts on “How Soon Should You Begin Milking Your Goat After Kidding?”

  1. Would the goat’s milk supply have diminished too much to be worthwhile if I begin separating the baby at night and milking at 9-10 weeks? She had a single buckling. Would the baby nurse through a cattle panel separating them? Thank you!


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