You guys, I’d given up.
The milk goat we got a little over two weeks ago had dried up. I couldn’t figure it out! I’d gotten the hang of milking her and was confident (well, pretty sure) I was doing it right. We’d supplied the goats with all the fresh hay they could ask for, grains, and free forage…
What else was I missing? I’d tried to do everything right, and still the goat was giving less and less milk every day.
Yesterday, I got about 4 tablespoons of milk. No joke. I thought, “Great. She’s dried up. Now what do I do?”
So today I resorted to phase 2: Separate the kids from the other doe (affectionately named Smiley, ’cause she’s always showing her teeth), and try milking her once a day until we are able to completely wean her little ones.
I rounded up the little buckling and doeling, and put them in their own pen for the day. They didn’t like it, and called for their mama every so often, but eventually they settled in and enjoyed the fresh forage. Smiley had the entire day to build up a good supply of milk for me.
Tonight at milking time I milked both goats. I really hoped to get more milk than the few drops I’ve been getting over the past week.
Now, as I’ve mentioned before, Smiley has really small teats. Which makes it very difficult to milk her. (One of those things I should have paid attention to before buying her!) I gave it my best, and she did good for her first time letting me milk, but most of what I got either ran down my arm or squirted in some random direction, completely missing the bowl. When you can’t get a good grasp on her it’s hard to do a thorough job.
I got a little out of her, but not as much as I would have liked. I didn’t sweat it though for tonight. I’d be returning her kids to her soon and they could finish the job for me. I thanked her anyway, and she jumped down off of the stand.
But what I surprise I got when Blondie (the dried up doe) jumped up on the milking stand… very noticeably engorged and ready to be relieved of all that milk!! I couldn’t believe it!
I prayed it wasn’t a cruel joke, and began to milk her. I milked, and I milked, and I milked! It just kept coming!
I ended up getting a full quart of milk out of her. Granted, it’s not that much compared to what most goats give in a day, BUT compared to the 3/4 of a quart for two milkings I was getting in the beginning, and then the laughable dribbles I’ve been getting for the past several days, I felt like I’d hit gold!
What the heck had happened? Why did she all of a sudden have milk overflowing, when just yesterday she was as dry as a sack of flour?
Maybe she’d just loosened up around me. Maybe the increased feed had finally kicked in. I didn’t know, but I was not going to complain about it.
Once I’d finished milking Blondie I took the milk back inside the house, let it strain, and then went back out to return the kids to their mama for the night.
But when the eager little ones got back into the larger pen with the does, I decided to stand by and watch to see if something I had been suspecting might possibly be going on.
And then my suspicions were confirmed. I could hardly control myself as I shouted, “I knew it!! I knew it!!”
The kids were nursing Blondie- NOT THEIR MAMA!
Ah-ha!! So THAT’S what’s been going on. That’s why Blondie was dry every time I tried to milk her. The little rascals were stealing my milk!
Is this normal? I have no idea. But now that I know it’s nothing I’ve done wrong I feel so much better about it. And now I know how to fix the problem!
Tomorrow, I’ll separate the little ones again in the morning and milk both does in the evening. Let’s cross our fingers and hope that we start getting some good milk production going on around here! I’m ready to play with this stuff and see what else I can make from fresh goat’s milk!
Does anybody know if it’s normal for kids to nurse a doe who’s not their mother?
And will Smiley’s teats get larger as she gets older and is milked more often? I sure hope so!