Most of my first herd of goats would be just about finished lactating in the fall. By November they would be producing a cup of milk or even less daily. My current goats are much better milkers. Although Ziva was the only one I was still milking when November rolled around, she didn't seem eager to quit. Normally I would continue to milk until we hit the "2-3 months before kidding" point, which would be December or January this year, but since I was planning to take a trip out of state to visit my new grandson, it was time to stop milking. Hubby doesn't milk goats. I wanted to be sure Ziva was dried off and comfortable before I left town.
So, how do you dry off a goat?
On my homestead, the first step in drying off a goat is to cut out the evening milking and only milk once a day. I usually do this when it gets really hot in August, but this year I continued to milk Ziva twice a day until October. Since I feed my does on the milkstand while I'm milking, I also cut Ziva's daily grain ration in half by not milking in the evening. Decreasing the amount of grain you feed your doe will slow down production. (You could, of course, cut out the morning milking and only milk in the evening if that suits your schedule better.)
My next step is to not milk her out completely when I milk in the morning. Leaving milk in the udder tells the doe's body that her milk isn't needed in the same quantity, so she starts producing less.
Don't rush the process. Give the doe's body plenty of time to respond to the signals. I prefer to allow at least a week, preferably more, to each step.
Then I milk every other morning. This is another way of decreasing the demand on her body, and she should produce less milk. In spite of it all, Ziva was still producing almost as much milk at each milking as she did in August. It's been hard to convince her body to slow down milk production.
I'll begin to leave even more milk "unmilked". As the amount I'm milking decreases, I'll continue to decrease her ration of grain which in turn should also decrease the amount she produces. Then I'll milk every three days, and finally I'll stop altogether, still keeping an eye on her udder to be sure she isn't engorged and uncomfortable. I certainly don't want her to develop mastitis.
And then we'll be milk-less until March. By then I'll really be missing milking. I enjoy it. It's a peaceful, contemplative time of day for me - unless the goat is acting up, but I'll have forgotten all about that by March.
My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a