Thursday, June 21, 2012

Getting Into A Routine With Milking The Goats!

As you probably know, if you've been following this blog or checking our Facebook Page, we've got baby goats!  Six of them from our three Goatlings.  That means that we've added milking to our daily chores: twice a day, morning and night!  Like anything new, it's been an adjustment, with quite a learning curve, but we're settling into a 'groove' with it now.  Throw into the mix that we've had to bottle feed some of our babies and....well, it has been hectic.  We were fortunate that our birthings were spread out over four weeks, so we've had a chance to adjust slowly.

Goldie was the first to give birth, to a fine, strapping buckling named Gafferty, or Little Gaffer.  We gave them a few days together, then started milking her once a day, in the evenings.  Goldie took to the process quite easily: once she figured out that when she got into the parlor and up on the milking stand grain was to be had, she took to it right away.  When the grain did not appear because her head wasn't in the right place, she made that correction easily, too.  We're realizing now that Goldie has what's called a small teat aperture, and her milk stream is quite tiny.  She's a slow but steady milker (maybe it's a ploy to get more grain....).

Mabel kidded next and, as you may know, immediately rejected her darling triplets.  Wanted nothing to do with them from the moment they dropped and could not be convinced otherwise over the next few days.  We resigned ourselves to bottle feeding the three babies.  Mabel was immediately milked twice a day, occasionally three times a day but was not producing enough for the three babies.  Goldies' extra and a little store-bought goats' milk have made up the difference.  Mabel was resistant to milking at first and did not like to be handled.  All this was very surprising from the doe we considered the most gentle and easy-going.  Persistence and patience have won, and now she and Goldie vie to see who will be first into the parlour for milking (and grain...).  Mabel has a 'heartier' milk stream, and milks a really good amount quite quickly.

Finally, five days ago, Chocolate produced a lovely pair of little doelings!  Again, we left them together for a couple of days and then brought Choco into milk two nights ago.  She's been up on the milking stand before: we trained them all on it by using it for hoof trimming.  She got up on the milking stand no problem, but reacted rather violently to having her udder touched!  She jumps and stamps and kicks and it's really hard work!  We haven't actually gotten any milk from her yet...we're just trying to have patience and get her used to being handled without anybody getting hurt.  The battle will continue, twice a day, everyday....

One thing about the milking that we're very happy with is our Henry Milker Machine.  Great little gadget that does the work for you while keeping the milk clean from debris like goat hair and bedding straw.  It's quite mobile, too, when Choco is kicking and stamping.  Also found a great little recipe for homemade, natural udder disinfectant/teat dip here, which involved essential oils and other products that we already had on hand.  No chemicals and no bleach, which I wouldn't want to use on a regular basis on the goats' skin.  For an udder balm, we're using our homemade lotion bars, instructions and recipe are here.  All in all, milking is going well, for us first timers.  Now, if the ladies would just produce enough for a little soap or cheese!

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