Had to milk Zorra last night. She was fuller than full, and wasn't walking much - she couldn't. :snicker: Seems Jayne prefers the chocolate milk on the left side - the right side was bulging and starting to get a little warm. It took a bit to get her on the stand, and it took a little more to convince her that I wasn't going to let Jayne starve.....in about 5 minutes I got 1 pound, 4 oz out of her (not counting the bit I had to toss because she stuck her foot in the bucket. It got tossed, and I started over.) It's now in the freezer (with a bit added to, to bring it up to 1.5 pounds) awaiting the rest of the supplies so I can attempt soap.
Since I know I have a few non-goat owners (but that want goats) here, I want to offer some unsolicited advice about buying a home milker. Buy the best udder you can find. Seriously - a goat is NOT a goat is a goat. Bear with me - if I had known this when I was buying, we would NOT have bought the Cashmeres (not for milk, anyway).
Our 2 Nubians have nice udders. We lucked out - neither one of us had any sort of a clue as to what to look for. To me, they're perfect - but I don't know if they really are, or if it's just in comparison to the others. They're not huge (yet), they're pretty much centered on the body, they're held up tight against the abdominal wall, and the teats are relatively centered. You can go look at udder pictures all you want (seriously, this sounds....weird, but now I know why so many goat websites have udder shots. I had wondered - it seems a little....kinky to me.), but looking won't really tell you what you need to hunt for in a real live goat - unless you know what you're looking for. Honestly, 1 udder shot looks just like another to me. (Dairy Goat Journal has a monthly column on judging dairy goats. 4 goats of the same breed/age, and you're supposed to study the 4 pictures of each one and place them, then you turn the page and the judge tells you how stupid your choices were. It's educational, but since I had no clue WHY he was so set on some things, I never could pick the best one. I'm getting better...I bet this month I can come closer!)
I've already complained about LaDue and Sunny. Their udders have almost NO front attachment - so they droop. They have milk, yes, and they CAN be milked...but.
Last night I got Zorra on the stand. I've been wanting to milk her - she's a crossbreed, her udder *looked* nice before she freshened, and I wanted to see how that 50% Cashmere affected her. Well......it affected the udder, that's for sure. (And she has NO Cashmere. :sigh: At least she has the Nubian sweetness!)
She has almost NO front attachment. It looks nice, but when you go to milk her, the sides flop all over, because they're not held tightly to the abdominal wall. The rear udder is nice - it's up high, and attached tightly (there's an "e" word to describe that....I can't remember it), but the front screws it all up. Her teats are a good size - easy to grasp for hand-milking, but not so big that it's hard, but because of the front attachment they are set too far forward, and they're off center. In fact, her right teat is a little *behind* her left one - it made it hard to milk it out, because I couldn't *see* it without practically climbing underneath her. :sigh:
On Annie and Mocha, when you let a teat go to milk the other one (or change hands - I have to do that frequently), the teat is right where you left it when you go back. On Zorra, you have to hunt for it again, because it wiggles around. (It's worse on LaDue and Sunny :lol:) I didn't realize how important a good front attachment really was, until now!
We are going to buy another Nubian. What I will look for (now that I have somewhat of a clue!) will be first, basic confirmation - I love Annie and Mocha, but they are a little small. It's kinda hard to milk a smaller goat - there's not a lot of room under them for the bucket! Zorra's the typical Nubian height - there was TONS of room for my 4 qt bucket there. I'll then check out the udder (or the dam's udder if we end up buying a young 'un, which is what Sweet Geek wants to do) - I want one that's got decent front attachment, is held up relatively high in back, with teats that are pretty much centered. Teat size doesn't bother me much, as long as they aren't sausage-teated (but you can still milk those by hand) - small teats will enlarge as you go (or leave the kids on them - they'll do the work for you!). I'll make sure the teats are held up around/above the hocks - the udder WILL get bigger the more she freshens, and you don't want it dragging on the ground (LaDue, I'm looking at you!) I don't need a prize-winning udder - we aren't going to show - I just want one that will hold up to years of supplying our house with milk.
Zorra's udder isn't horrible - it's a LOT better than the 2 pure Cashmere's - it's just not as good as it could be. I'm hoping that Jayne can put better udders on his daughters (his sire came from good milking lines - he isn't a Star buck, but he's a good one), and that they will pass them down thru the generations so that eventually we'll have some Cashmere's with good udders. She wasn't hard to milk (once I got her to stand still), so that's a plus.
Since I seem to be on a goat-kick...:lol: I am changing their feeding. (SLOWLY! Slowly! Not gonna do an abrubt change - don't want to make them sick!). What we've been doing is feeding the milkers their rations ON the stand, then feeding everybody else when we're done. It works, but they were hitting the feeders as well, which meant we had to put MORE feed in them to make sure everybody else was getting their share.
Well, I'd noticed Annie had dropped off a little each milking - not a lot, just an ounce or 2, but that's still something to fret about. (We went from 2+ pounds each milking to barely 2. Not a huge difference, but Mocha's been going up. So...) I did a lot of reading yesterday, and am going to try something different.
We feed a balanced sheep/goat ration from the feed mill. It's good, but it's not directed at Dairy goats (It is a 16%, which is good for milk). We also feed Sudan hay. While reading, I noticed that everyone was feeding alfalfa, to boost protein and calcium. Alfalfa hay is NOT an option here - it's way too expensive, and I don't want my horses to get into it (TX has (or had) a problem with blister beetles - tiny bugs that are deadly to horses. They LOVE alfalfa, and their heads will kill an adult horse. I'd rather not risk that, thankyouverymuch!)..what to do?
Simple. Our feed mill makes an alfalfa pellet, no fillers, just 100% alfalfa. So, I am currently top-dressing their rations with 1 cup of alfalfa pellets. I will slowly up the alfalfa and cut the goat feed each day, until we're at nothing but alfalfa pellets on the stand (well, top-dressed with Sweet Feed, which is what I'm doing now). They can get their goat ration in the feeders with everyone else. This should boost milk production, cut our feed bills a bit, and make everyone happy. :lol: (I tried alfalfa cubes - they were too big for the goats, and I can't break them up. The horses love them, though.....so it's win/win.)
Some people add some Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (BOSS) to the rations...I might do that. We'll see how this goes, first - won't hurt, anyway.
Well, we started the alfalfa pellets last night - this morning? I almost got knocked down they were so eager to dive in! :lol: I think we have a winner....:snicker:
Not much else going on right now - it's up in the AM and milk, rush to work, rush home, change clothes, milk, grab dinner, and sleep. Weekends the same, except it's rush to do barn chores (which is worse than work :lol:)....I know it's just because it's all new, but I'm *tired*. With 2.5 goats on the stand (we'll be milking Zorra 1x day for now, until Jayne is weaned), and all the assorted goat-tending chores (have to disbudd Hobbes and River tomorrow or Sunday. :sigh:), we don't seem to have time to relax any more. It'll come...but man! I'm tired!