December 3, 2014

How to Dry Off Your Dairy Goat

Most goat owners keep their dairy goats in milk for approximately 9-10 months. Once a goat is bred, she should be dried off (allowed to stop producing milk) 2-3 months before she kids again, so that she can put her body's energy into growing her kids.

How to dry off your dairy goat.

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?

How to dry off your dairy 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.)

How to stop milking your dairy goat.

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.

You should stop milking a dairy goat 2-3 months before she kids again.

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.

How to dry off a dairy goat.

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.

The steps to take to stop milking a dairy goat and prevent 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.


This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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16 comments:

  1. How well I remember my mistake of buying a 1st freshener many eons ago. She was an only goat and a Nubian Screamer. I had no milk stand in the beginning. Both of us new to the game and trying to milk tied in the stock trailer. I worked nights and the last thing I wanted at 6 am before going to bed was a naughty goat to milk...

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  2. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead7:39 AM

    That sounds like a circus, Michelle!

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  3. Your goat is SO cute! I had never thought about what or why you would dry your goat. I'm still in the learning process and love finding out everything I can on goats, can't wait to have our own.

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  4. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead6:14 PM

    Hi Nicole. I'm pleased to know that you've found my blog helpful. I hope you get your goats soon.

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  5. I don't have any goats, but I visit my friend that has some. I also enjoy reading about them and seeing the pictures. I hope it went well for you. Best wishes!

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    1. Hi Jendi, how nice that you can visit your friend's goats. :-)

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  6. It sounds like you've got the process down pat. Thanks for sharing such wonderful outdoor posts on The Maple Hill Hop. I always look forward to reading your posts.

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  7. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead2:51 PM

    Thank you, Daisy, that's kind of you to say. :-)

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  8. This was a really helpful post as we have two milkers right now! Thank you Kathi for taking the time to prepare this information. I will be pinning this :)

    Thank you also for sharing on the Art of Home-Making Mondays each week!

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  9. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead12:10 PM

    I'm glad it was helpful to you, Jes. Thank you for the Pin!

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  10. great post Kathi!

    Love those Nubian ears :)

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  11. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead6:17 AM

    Yes, I love those ears!

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  12. We don't have goats, but it sounds similar to drying off a cow. Thanks for sharing this at Good Morning Mondays. I am enjoying reading what you are up too. Blessings

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  13. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead8:02 AM

    Hi Terri, thank you for hosting the GMM hop each week!

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  14. Frances L Vickers4:43 PM

    I enjoy all your posts. If I had to get rid of anything, my goat would the the last. A milk goat could be a complete survival kit if necessary. A milk goat can provide milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, kefir, soap ,(meat if necessary), and friendship. I wonder if a goat was not bred again, how long she would produce milk? Love my goats !

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    1. I have friends who wait two years before breeding them again - if the goat kids in February, for instance, she would have been bred in October. They will breed her again in October two years later. The first five months of that she's pregnant, then in milk ... she slows down on production a bit during the winter but they say the goat will produce more again the next spring. She's then bred in October and is dried off sometime between November-late December.

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