Milk goats are a great family farm animal. They are ideal for the children. Milking an animal is a huge responsibility with so many rewards. It is a great animal for a child to learn how to milk and all the responsibilities that go along with that chore. Goats are a good –child to animal size — ratio. A milk cow is a very large animal with many different considerations and although we did train our boys how to milk the cow, it is just much more of a parental oversight job than a milk goat is. Or maybe it’s just that mom worries more with her boy under a 1,000+ pound animal than when he is sitting beside a 130 pound animal.
Our milk goats are mostly Alpines…which we love. However, after our recent experience with the Nubian milk goat, we can see why people love them as family milk goats too. Our Nubian has grown to be a family favorite. We know other families who like the La Manchas and the Saanens.
- One goat is not enough milk for our large family–we made due with one milking goat, but there wasn’t much extra. Our little Nubian is in her 1st lactation so her milk production isn’t at its peak (2 quarts was our daily high with her). I was reading that goats actually give more milk per body weight than a cow does. Goats produce larger amounts of milk after a few lactations compared to their first lactation. We have heard of experienced goats giving a gallon of milk a day.
- Goats have two quarters to milk. Cows have 4 quarters to milk.
- We prefer dehorned goats and cows. Horns can be a dangerous and it is best not to have a strong animal with horns, especially around children.
- Remember there is not a “perfect” animal. Don’t get caught up in finding the perfect dairy goat. There isn’t one.
- Purchase a milk goat that has been milked before or has been human “broke”. Be leary of buying some ones brush goat that just had a baby and is in milk. You won’t have a good experience trying to milk a wild, “just off the field” goat.
Before we knew anything about milking, we met someone who raised dairy goats and learned so much from her. If you can find someone who has a dairy goat, you will gather more practical advice and tips from a human person than you will from a book many times. Although there are some great books out there about dairy goats…there is nothing like having someone walk you through, in person, how to milk or even how to dehorn a goat.
Trial and error are great ways to learn what not to do. The great thing about farming is you are forced to figure it out.