I just wrote a (long) email to a friend of mine with most of my goat links, and decided I should probably post them here, too. I'll put them under a cut, just 'cause I'm nice like that! :lol:
Books: "Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats" is *terrific*. It's got all the basic info you need. "Goats Produce Too" is all about the cheese. :lol: Carla Emery's "County Living" has a *really* good section on Home Dairying, both cow and goat, plus lots of receipes. There are others, but those are the ones I keep going back to.
Dairy Goat forum - lots of talk about medical needs, upkeep, and, of course, milking (you can read without joining):
This one is cool - it's Homsteading. This link is specific to the goat forum, but they have forums for *everything* - chickens, bees, horses, etc. Some overlap in the goat area with the above, but there's enough difference for me to keep both (Again - don't have to join to read).
Here's on that focuses strictly on cheesemaking:
http://www.cheesemaking.com (Sweet Geek made his first batch of cheese last night from store-bought goats milk - it was EASY, and fun - and took about an hour and a half or so. Long as you have some way to boil the milk and some vinegar (1/8 cup per quart of milk), you will have cheese. It's a soft cheese, but yummy. He's already planning his next batch!)(Quick recap - boil the milk stirring constantly. When you have a good boil going (but not rolling), add the vinegar SLOWLY. Stir CONSTANTLY and slowly. Pull it off the burner and let it cool down a bit. Set up your colander in a large pot/bowl, and put cheesecloth/an old pillowcase/t-shirt over the colander. Carefully pour the hot liquid thru the covered colander. Using a spatula, work the now-forming cheese until most of the liquid is off....squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Add herbs/salt/whatever. Eat. The liquid is whey - give it to the dog/chickens/acidic-loving plants/bread dough/soup base. :lol:)
Here's a site for a "milking machine" - the Homesteading forum has a thread on making your own for..about $20 or so. Now that we have ours, yeah - we'll probably be making a couple more for the kids to use. I can NOT milk by hand, not with my screwed up wrist. If you have smaller goats, this would be a blessing (not trying to sell you anything, just.....this was designed for pygmy goats.)
Butter - if you want to make butter, it's gonna be a little labor-intensive. Fastest way - buy a cream separator (but NOT a manual one - those (supposedly) take a lot of grunt-work to get up to speed, and they aren't THAT much cheaper than electric ones. Ebay sells the electric ones from...$150+. :sigh: I'm saving up.) - goats milk doesn't have as much cream as cow's milk, so you skim it off and freeze it, and keep adding to the bottle with each new batch of milk. When you have enough cream, thaw it and go from there. If you have a mixer, you're good to go; hand-cranked butter churns are going for....$50+ on eBay (Daisey style ones. The old-fashioned pottery churns are about that, I think - I'm looking at Quart-sized churns, so haven't priced the other ones.) You can do the whole "put it in a jar and shake shake shake"...I'm a bit too lazy for that. :lol: (I'm looking at the Daisey-style ones as backup in case the power gets wonky or something. Or the kids want to make butter. :lol:)
Milk - ah, the whole billy-goat thing. I talked to my fiber-goat raising friend (she used to do dairy goats), and here's what *I'm* going to do. I will buy bred nannys (only...they're called "does" now. :whatever:). The kids - in OUR set up - are all destined for the freezer - I am NOT getting into goat-breeding, I am only interested in the milk aspect. When the does kid, we will bottle-feed the kids (to prevent CAE - goat AIDS, basically) for 2 or 3 weeks, then feed them until they are 20 - 30 pounds. Off to the butcher's they go - except for *1* buck. When the does come back into season, he'll breed 'em; once they're all preggers, off HE goes. Lather, rinse, repeat - since a buckling is capable of breeding at *3* months, we shouldn't have a buck for very long.
*IF* we were actually raising goats, this would become a problem a few generations down.....since we're not, she told me this would work great. *IF* I get worried about the kids, I can always buy a bottle buck (for $30 or $40), keep him long enough to breed, then send him off. (Also, I am going to disbud them - remove the horns - just because. My friend has the tool; I can get one for about $30 at Tractor Supply if I want my own)
Dairy goats will milk for a good 10 years (or more!), so I wouldn't be replacing the does often (Lord willing, anyway!)
Also on that note....the smaller goats (Pygmy, mini-nubians, etc) won't give a lot of milk - maybe a 1/4 gallon a day (Note - a gallon of goats milk = 8 pounds, and most people list the poundage. It's more accurate, since the milk foams when it's fresh and it's hard to get an accurate reading). This isn't bad - it adds up, after all - but if you're wanting more milk, you need to look into getting a Nubian, Alpine, Saanan or Toggenburg. We're leaning towards Nubian/Cashmere (because that's what my friend has; they were giving her about 1 gallon/day/per goat when she was milking, they dress out well, AND they give fiber), mainly because Sweet Geek wants a lot of cheese and butter on top of the milk (he wants to cut out the grocery store as much - and as soon - as possible.)...
So....Nubians give about 1 gallon a day, or so they say. *I* figure I'll get half that (because I can't expect to have a prize-winning goat in my barn.) - we're figuring on needing 3 does to keep us in enough milk for what we want to do. Right now, we go thru about 2 gallons of milk a week - and that DOESN'T factor in baking/cooking/cheesemaking, that's just Drinking.
I looked into Pygmys.....around here, the "dairy" ones are advertised as giving 1/4 gallon a day. Plus they're harder to milk - and the price isn't that much different than Nubians! (About $100/pygmy that's never been milked as opposed to about $150 for a Nubian from dairy lines. Where you are that might be different, so take this with a grain of salt). Plus, there's more meat on a bigger goat..... From what I've been reading, you really don't need a lot of room for the Nubians - the barn plans we are using are set up for 20 goats, and the actual *barn* area is only 15'x15'. (The milking area is 5'x8'. We've enlarged that to 10'x10', because I am claustrophobic. It also has an attached feed room - only they call it the "milk house" :lol:)
I've got a bunch of links to local breeders - which wouldn't help most of you - and some to more cheesemaking/homesteading groups, but the ones above are more intensive.
I hope some of these help you - I've learned a whole lot over the past few weeks - especially from the Homesteading forum! I had no idea all the things involved in goat-keeping....but now I'm ready for our next endeavor. Hopefully, anyway! :lol: