Getting Started With Milk Goats


Confessions of a Cracked EggThings on the farm are always changing. Andrew and I agreed when we first started in the fall of 2010 that we wanted to try new things, experiment with techniques and livestock we had no previous experience with and see what exactly we ended up with. The theory was, if we tried everything surely we would find something we were truly passionate about. We already knew our entire family enjoyed chickens, but we were wanting to find a larger species to add to the mix. From 2010-2012 we gained experience with donkeys, cows, sheep, turkeys, guineas and pigs. Some I enjoyed more than others, all were OK but, eh … there just wasn’t one species that clicked with me to the point that I looked forward to seeing them first thing every morning! The children had their chickens, Andrew his cows. Time to find my niche!

In the fall of 2012, I attended the Mother Earth News Fair in Pennsylvania. My favorite seminars were surprisingly on milk goats. I had never considered goats for us, as the only experience I had with them were a friend's herd of brush goats that, to be honest, were ill mannered, stinky, and left alone to range half wild across hilly woodlands. However these milk goats I had been learning about sounded intriguing. I came home and immediately told Andrew this was something I wanted to try!

As soon as he was able to work the ground in the spring, Andrew began fencing off a small section in the backyard just for one or two goats. May and Nutmeg came home shortly after. Both girls were in milk, and as often happens to me, I had not entirely thought this situation through in my excitement to bring them home! Day 1 with two girls in milk and what did we not have? Shelter or a milk stand! Andrew amazed me by pulling together a rather decent milk stand (which I still use today) in a matter of hours out of some pallets and wood scraps behind the barn.

Milk Stand

As for shelter, a vacant 10-by-12-foot dog pen was moved into the goat fence and a new heavy duty tarp secured on top. This simple shelter was quit efficient for the summer and early fall months until we could get a permanent shelter in place.

May and Nutmeg were easy to handle, sweet girls who were already trained for milking. May, a Lamancha/Nubian cross took an instant liking to me. She is still a big baby, acting much more like a dog then a goat. Always the first to greet me and right by my side whenever I am at the barn. Nutmeg, a purebred (non-registered) Nubian, was actually easier to milk but somewhat less friendly in the field.

4/19/2015 1:55:24 AM

I totally understand Jim! I think we are the only people our age I know of that doesn't have a "smart" phone! Ours are just plain dumb ones. :) I'll send you an e-mail to answer your questions. Thanks for reading!

4/18/2015 7:48:20 AM

How large an area is your 'pasture'? And I have attended the seminars regarding milking through or not. What are your thoughts on all that? And as horrifying as it may be for you to understand, not all of us are on Facebook. :-) Old guys like me do well to figure out how to take a picture with their flip phone. Jim

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