Sweet Geek should know by now that if he asks me to research something in depth, and keeps asking for more info on it, sooner or later he'll be writing a check. :grin:
He asked me a while back to research dairy goats. OK....he's cool with my hens, so I can be cool with his goats, yes? I googled, I read articles and forums and got "Storey's Guide to Dairy Goats". I decided we needed La Mancha goats (they have no ears, but are Fantastic milkers)...and we sat down last weekend to discuss.
He decided to throw me a curve ball - NO goats until I find an affordable milker. Yes, the goats were his idea, but *I* would be in charge of milking, and with my hands/wrists he feels that hand-milking is out. (See what he did there? Trying to forestall the inevitable? :lol:)
Monday I hopped online.....and found a hand-powered milker for $150. Not bad - the electric ones on eBay are going for $300+, IF you can find them, and IF they work. I went to look for reviews, and found one for *$45*. Works like a spray bottle, so very little impact on my hands. According to reviews, you can strip a doe in under 10 minutes with this (both sides...hand-milking can take 20+).
Last night, my dear, sweet, wonderful husband ordered me the milker (the $45 one). It ended up being $86, because, well.....it comes set up for Pygmy goats, and we're not doing that, we're doing Nubian. (Yeah. I priced 'em....La Mancha's? $300 AND UP. I found some Nubians IN MILK for $125. And less. :blink:) We needed to upgrade the teat cups, and we wanted a container attached to the milker (instead of milking into an open bowl), and he wanted to get a brush. Still a good deal!
Why not pygmy goats? Simple. A Pygmy will give (ON AVERAGE) a half gallon of milk a day. Bearing in mind that a) that's average, and I have to assume much less from any goat *I* get, and b) we go thru at least a gallon and a half of milk a week...well, figuring 1 quart of milk per day wouldn't quite cut it. I'd need at least 2, possibly 3 goats to keep up with just our milk requirements. (And...Sweet Geek wants to get into Cheesemaking. That requires a gallon of milk per pound of cheese, on average)
A Nubian will give a good gallon a day - and this is for a low-average milker. So, figure half to 3/4 gallon. We could get by with *1* goat. Less time spent milking, less feed costs......and Nubian's have the highest butterfat content of all the dairy goat breeds. (Sweet Geek wants to make butter, too...)
So....now we start looking seriously for a doe. Preferably one that has either just kidded, or is about to kid. We've found a butcher that'll process bucklings, so we'll get meat from unwanted bucks (yes, we'll have to re-breed the doe to keep getting milk. I'm trying to find someone who would be willing to stud out a buck for us.), and we can - maybe - keep a doeling kid to bring up for more milk as she matures. We'll keep them near the horses (possibly IN with the boys, but we haven't quite decided on that yet. I think there's enough room between the round pen and the boy's paddock for a goat pen, with a shed. We'll need to divide it for living quarters/milking parlor, but that's not a big deal)
Anyway...that's what *I've* been up to lately. :grin: Since things are NOT going to get any better for a while (and if you believe the MSM about how the economy's "turning around", you're not paying attention. Just a friendly warning, here - things WILL get worse; we are headed towards a global currency, and food prices WILL go up substantially. Got your garden started yet?) Oh - and we think we've found someone who will process chickens for us. If that pans out, I'll be buying some broiler chicks for the freezer. And hopefully I'll have Half a Hereford soon. That'll do us for a bit, and cut down on grocery costs. :fingers crossed: