May 2, 2013

Let's dry her off!

To dry off a doe is to stop milking her. Ideally, a goat is dried off two or more months before she has babies. This is a good idea for several reasons:

  1. It gives the doe time to rest and recuperate before she has babies and has to go through another strenuous ten months of milking. It's really hard on a doe to have babies and produce large amounts of milk. She deserves a break!
  2. The major part of a kid's growing takes place in the last two months of pregnancy. If the doe is producing milk, her body will be so worked by trying to produce milk and grow babies that she or the babies might develop deficiencies resulting in sickness, miscarriage, or difficult kidding. Scary!
  3. It gives you time to rest. Don't you ever get tired of going out twice a day in rain, snow, fog, or whatever else, and afterwards having to go through the process of filtering, cooling, and storing the milk?
  4. If you don't dry your doe off, she might dry off by herself anyway, and then (horror of horrors!) you'll feel cheated!

Have I convinced you? If not, you are free to go elsewhere for advice. Since you are still reading this, I will assume that I have. So let us continue...
To dry off a doe (as aforesaid), you have to stop milking her. When a doe dries off in nature, it is because the baby gradually stops drinking her milk, then pressure in her udder tells her body to produce less of it. Anyway, here you have it:

How to dry off a milking doe

  • About two months before the date that you want your doe dried up by - the exact time depends on the doe - start milking her once a day. Here's how to go about it: milk her out entirely on the first morning, and then check on her in the evening to see how she is doing. If she is very full, milk her out half-way; otherwise you can leave the milking until morning. Repeat this process every day until she is comfortable (i.e. producing a little less milk and not filling up as tightly).
  • Now you can start milking her every other day. Begin on the first day by skipping the milking, or if she is still producing too much milk to do that, milk her out only half-way. On the second day, milk her out entirely and on the third repeat the process of the first day. Again, continue until she is comfortable with it.
  • At this time you may start milking her every third day. To do this, pretty much repeat the same thing that you did to start milking her every other day.
  • By this time, your doe is probably very much dried off, so much so that it would feel comfortable to stop milking her altogether. If that is the case, go ahead! If not, keep making the gap between milkings longer and longer. By the time you get to a week between milkings, your doe will probably stop producing milk and you will be able to stop milking her.
You might hear some people say to discontinue feeding a doe grain when you are drying your doe off. I disagree. Removing the grain will not stop milk production; it will only cause the doe problems from trying to make milk without the proper protein.

Also be aware that though she has stopped producing milk, her udder will not necessarily look empty. If she is not getting any fuller, but she is still at least partly full, it just means that she has not yet started absorbing the milk back into her body. Roxy has only a little more than a month until her babies come and she still looks half-full of milk!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave a comment or question: