One of the questions many homesteaders and backyard goat keepers ask is how much milk dairy goats produce per day. Will the milk be enough for the family? Will you be able to have a surplus for selling? While this question has a clear answer, there are many factors that determine how much milk your dairy goat will produce per day.
Table of Contents
- 1 How Much Milk Goats Produce Per Day.
- 2 What is the Lactation Cycle?
- 3 Do dairy goats produce milk all the time
- 4 Dairy Goat Breeds that Produce a Lot of Milk.
- 5 Factors that Affect Dairy Goat Milk Production
- 6 Getting milk from dairy goats every day of the year.
How Much Milk Goats Produce Per Day.
Backyard dairy goats will produce an average of 2100 lbs to 2260 lbs of milk per year, based on a 305-day lactation cycle. This translates to an average of 2.5 quarts to 3 quarts a day during the early days of the lactation curve. The production will fluctuate through the lactation curve with the production going to between 1 and 2 quarts in the tail end of the lactation cycle.
Milk production is dependent on many factors such as breed, diet, climate among many others.
If a dairy goat will produce an average of 2100 lbs of milk per year, does this mean that you will always have milk every day? The short answer is no, but it is possible to keep several goats and manage their lactation cycles so that you can have some milk every day of the year.
Let us look at one important term in dairy goats – the lactation cycle
What is the Lactation Cycle?
The lactation cycle or the lactation curve is the period of time when the goat is actively producing milk. Goats, like all other mammals, only produce milk after giving birth to kids. The lactation cycle is the time between when the goats start producing milk to the time they stop producing, also known as drying up.
A goat will produce milk for 305 days in a year. This is the period we call the lactation cycle. After this period, the goat will need to be freshened again by breeding.
When goats give birth, their hormones trigger milk production. The purpose of this milk is to feed the newborn goats and peaks at 4 to 6 weeks after kidding (giving birth).
Do dairy goats produce milk all the time
Dairy Goats do not produce milk all the time. However, the period of milk production after giving birth can be made longer. Continual milking sends a signal to the goat reproductive system that the goat is still fed a young goat and it should continue to produce milk. Note that for the first 4 weeks, the milk is left exclusively for the young goat.
After 4 weeks, the young goat is put introduced to starter feed during the day and left with the mother at night. Milking is done twice a day, every 12 hours, without fail. The young goat is weaned off suckling the mother at night at 3-4 months.
Dairy Goat Breeds that Produce a Lot of Milk.
Not all goats will give you a good production of milk. You need to select a dairy goat breed that is suitable for your area.
While there are several dairy goat breeds that produce milk, a few have been known to be the best milk producers in North America. These are Alpine, LaMancha, Toggenburg, Nubian, Saanen, Obesahli and a new comer, the Nigerian Dwarf.
The Alpine is a dairy goat breed that originated from the French Alps. They were first introduced in the United States in 1920.
The Alpine will produce an average of 2,439 lbs of milk in a year. Alpine milk contains 3.2% butterfat. High-producing Alpines have been known to produce 3 times the average production. The record stands at 6,416 lbs of milk per year.
When in a herd, the Alpine is aggressive. They will do anything to get to their food. They have a hyperactive temperament.
LaMancha is an American dairy goat breed that appears as if it has no ears. It is a cross between females of short-eared goats with Nubian and Swiss make goats.
LaMancha goats produce an average of 2,331 lbs of milk per year. The milk has 3.9% butterfat.
When it comes to temperament, LaMancha goats have been classified as docile.
The Toggenburg goat breed is the oldest dairy goat on record. It dates back to the 1600s. It was developed in Switzerland and imported into the United States in 1893.
Toggenburg milk production averages at 2302 lbs of milk a year. The milk has 3% butterfat. Toggenburgs holds the world record of milk production, standing at 7,965 lbs per year. This translates to 995 gallons of milk per year.
The Nubian is a pure breed milk goat breed that is known for its drooping ears, Roman nose, and a lot of noise. Other than that, it is renowned as a great milk producer, with milk with high butterfat content.
Nubian goats have their origins in Africa, India and were crossed with English breeds, to make the Anglo-Nubian.
The Average production of the Nubian standard at 1,795 lbs of milk with 4.8% butterfat. This makes their milk ideal for making cheese.
Saanen is a laid-back dairy breed that has its origins in Saane, a Valley in Switzerland. Saanen goats will produce an average of 2,500 lbs of milk in a 305 lactation cycle. The milk from Saanen goats contains an average of 3.3% butterfat.
The Obersali, formally known as the Swiss Alpine were developed in Bern, Switzerland. Orbesahli dairy goats produce an average of 1000 lbs of milk a year. Their milk has 3.7% butterfat.
The Nigerian Dwarf is a miniature goat that produces milk in amounts that are equal to or more than other standard goats. It has its origins in Africa.
Though a small goat, the teats are the same size od standard breeds and can be milked the same way as standard goats. Nigerian dwarfs can produce a quart(a liter) of milk every day for the 305-day lactation cycle.
One advantage of the Nigerian Dwarf is that 3 goats take the same space as one standard goat. This makes it ideal for a goat breed from small backyards. With 3 goats and staggered breeding, your family can enjoy it throughout the year.
When getting Nigerian dwarfs for milk, make sure you get yours does from a breeder who has been breeding them for milk. This will ensure you get a goat that produces enough milk. The misconception that the Nigerian Goat is only good as a pet has led some keepers not to breed them for milk production. This has led to a decrease in milk production.
Factors that Affect Dairy Goat Milk Production
Once you have the right dairy goat breed, you need to ensure that all factors that might lead to low milk production are taken care of. These include climate, diseases and parasites, and nutrition.
Different goats were bred in different climates. They will thrive in their optimal climate and will produce less milk in other climates. Alpine, Nubian and Nigerian Dwarf will do well in hot climates than other milk goat breeds.
Diseases and Parasites.
Diseases and Parasites will affect milk production in dairy goats. It is good to prevent diseases than treat them. Ensure that the environment the goats live in is clean and does not get soggy or flood. Wet and soggy conditions lead to bacterial diseases such as footrot. The shelter the goats spend the night in must be free of the draft.
Make sure you practice good hygiene and biosecurity measures such as the provision of clean drinking water, clean feeders and waterers, avoiding overcrowding, quarantining sick goats, and quarantining of new goats for at least 30 days before integrating them into your flock.
A balanced dairy goat feed is a determinant of how much milk your dairy goat will produce. It also determines the quality of milk. The diet should be balanced to include energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Getting milk from dairy goats every day of the year.
We have established that it is impossible to get milk from one dairy goat every day of the year. However, keeping multiple dairy goats and breeding them on a staggered schedule can ensure your family and clients get their milk supply every day.
Keeping two dairy goats and breeding them on alternate schedules will ensure you get milk every day. You need to use the lactation calendar for your specific breed and breed the second goat about 6 months before the other goat drys up. This is because the gestation (pregnancy) period for goats is about 6 months (150 days). To scale up milk production, you will need to add the number of goats and work on a staggered breeding schedule.