Saturday, December 10, 2011

I'm Swearing Off Milk!!

Sabrina's milk for a day. Jar on right is 1/2 gallon.
Yup, that’s right folks….. Me, the big milk drinker will be forgoing milk!
Ok, not forever, but at least until the end of January.

After drinking whole, store bought milk for ages, I have become horribly spoiled to fresh, raw, uber healthy, perfect goat’s milk. So have my munchkins…

If you recall our "Dramatic Dairy Dilemma" you originally wouldn’t have thought my kids would have become as attached as I am to our fresh, raw milk, but they have been 100% converted.

Sabrina, my sweet polled Alpine is due to kid January 26th. This means she needed be dried up prior to kidding….

Sabrina with her March twin doelings on an unexpected cold spring morning.
Drying up is a process. There are several opinions on the best way to do this. I’ll share mine, though I promise it’s not the only way to go about this..

Some may think it odd that I’ve been milking Sabrina through her pregnancy, but I’ll explain that.

Some will allow does long, extended dry periods thinking it best to “give them a nice break”. When in fact these long times off do the owner's thought process a lot of good, but not so much for the doe or the long term health of the udder.

Kind of like those owners who put hats on their dogs… Yes, the owner thinks it’s adorable and it’s keeping Fido’s ears warm, but poor Fido wants to eat the stupid hat, vomit it up on your nicest rug and scream at you that he has furred ears for a reason…

As long as the doe is in good condition & maintained well, there is no reason for them to have extended dry periods. When an udder sits dry for long periods it can be harboring mastitis causing bacteria that is not being flushed out of the udder by milking and since the doe is not being milked the owner is often unaware of any issues until the doe freshens again.

So, ideally we keep the girls milking for the first part of the pregnancy and then begin drying up for the last 1-2 months of pregnancy. Does do need to be dried up at least a month or so before kidding again so they can produce colostrum for the new kids.

Now for our drying up process….. Sabrina has always been a great producer… We always got AT LEAST a gallon per day, even though she raised one doeling who stayed with her 24/7 & nursed until she was almost 7 months old. One day, when she was about 2 weeks fresh, we pulled Sabrina’s kids for the day & bottle fed them so I could get an accurate weight on the milk produced in a day without the kids stealing it. That day we got a lil over 14lbs of milk! For reference, 8lbs of milk is roughly one gallon.

Sabrina's udder 8 hours full at 1 month fresh
So… since she has such a great “will to milk” and produced well, I decided a slow process for her drying up… For about a month when I milked I didn’t fully empty her out.. I’d leave about ¼ of the milk in the udder at each milking instead of emptying her. Then I had about 3 weeks of leaving about ½ of the milk each time… This told her body the demand for milk was down, so her production gradually went down as well.

Then we went to once a day milking.. This was a nice change as I only had to milk in the mornings and wasn’t tied down in the evenings to rush home and milk on time. I had only meant to do this for a little while, but ended up milking once a day for a lil over 5 weeks… Liked the combo of fresh milk & less chores.

At the actual time of drying up, I simply stopped milking. I hear folks saying they go out and relieve the udder every 5th day (or whatever schedule) but there is NO NEED to go out and relieve the udder UNLESS she is filling to capacity and is becoming painfully full or is risking leaking. If she reaches that point you need to empty out just enough to relieve the pressure and prevent leaking, but no more.

I see people going out and emptying a few squirts on a doe who is no where near to being uddered up and the only thing this does is prolong the process and tells her body to keep on milking.

Silly 'Brina begging for treats... Her favorite treat being Mountain Dew!
When I decided to dry Sabrina up, the 2 days before I only milked her out less than half way and on the 3rd day I didn’t milk.

Not only did I not milk, I did not put her on the milk stand or do anything that was even close to our milking routine. She still got a bit of grain, but in a feeder in the pen instead of on the stand.

This is because for some does the whole milking process tells her body to let down milk… Sabrina instantly let down the moment she jumped on the stand and since we were drying up, I didn’t want her having any of her “Let’s Milk!” signals.

I did check her udder daily and thankfully it all went smoothly… She never over filled or leaked and now she’s officially “dry”.

I tried an organic cow’s milk from the store… Ick. Tasted the same as the non organic stuff to tell the truth… Watery, seemed thin and was, as my daughter so eloquently put it: "Just Blah."

I went to the health food store and bought a non- homogenized, low heat pasteurized cow’s milk… Not being artificially & mechanically homogenized it at least had the cream on it still, but instead of this smooth cream that’s blended in perfectly with raw goat’s milk, this cream was a big thick chunk that I had to poke at with a spoon in order to let the milk flow through the jar. The actual milk is ok…tolerable, but not fabulous. It is better than the homogenized cow’s milk (both organic & non organic) that I tried, so that’s a plus… For a quick summary on how cow's milk is homogenized click *here*.

Goat’s milk is naturally homogenized and doesn’t have to be artificially & mechanically homogenized like cow’s milk does & it’s so rich, smooth, flavorful & creamy…. Well to be fair, cow's milk doesn't HAVE to be homogenized either, raw cow's milk left in it's natural state is pretty good, but big dairy business doesn't seem to agree with me on that one...

I miss my goat’s milk.
I’m getting a silent protest to the “store bought milk” (which my kids now say that as if it’s a dirty word)..

Before, Tator alone would drink at least a quart of goat’s milk a day… If given a choice of soda (rare), sweet tea, water or goat’s milk at dinner time, they always chose milk. Now they choose tea or water….They sometimes hold out hope, check the fridge for goat’s milk before choosing. I have had the same gallon of store bought milk in my fridge for almost 2 weeks now and less than 1/2 of it is gone…

Ok, I’m done whining (for now anyways)… At least the wait won’t be too awful long.

My mom’s miniature doe, Keys, is due any day now, and Tootsie, the miniature Alpine doe I sold to my mom (who is also Keys' full sister) is due at the end of December. So I’ll go to momma’s, look pitiful, and she’ll send me home with milk to hold me over until Sabrina kids at the end of January.

Not to mention, not only will I soon be back in fresh milk, but I’ll also have baby goats!

I’m stating this publicly so y’all can hold me to it…. No matter how freaking unbelievably cute Sabrina’s kids are, I AM NOT KEEPING ANY OF THEM. So if you see me hinting around or being swayed by the overwhelming cuteness, firmly tell me “No!!”....... I really want a daughter out of Tonka, and since I have to keep my numbers low I can only keep so many. So, this kidding season I’m only planning on retaining a Lamancha doe, no Alpines retained until next year.

See?!?! The urge to keep them is hard to fight!

It's even harder to say no with this munchkin around begging to keep them all!

Thankfully I already have a few folks interested in bottle babies, so my goal is to move them out as fast as possible so I don’t get attached.

In theory this all sounds fabulous… Let’s see how firm my will power is at the end of January....…


Leigh said...

I can't believe you'll have new kids next month! I have to say that I am disheartened with our breeding situation. Unless Gruffy nailed them on his own, the girls would have absolutely nothing to do with my Pygmy "buck assist." THey would fight and buck being put in front of it and being held there. As far as I can tell, they're still cycling into their heats. Don't know what I'll do if neither gets bred! Like you, I cannot stomach cows milk, even "organic". I can buy raw Holstein milk, but that's not a preferred option either.

* Crystal * said...

Oh no Leigh!!! Geez, what a huge let down!

I hope Gruffy was stealthy & managed to get something done. Would it work if you let the girls in & held them in place until Gruffy got his job done?

Yea... lol I can't believe I'm having January kids either! I had wanted my kiddings closer together, but they wouldn't cooperate with me.

So I have Sabrina due Jan 26th & Bleuberry on March 5th.... Bleu has silent heats & didn't take last year with her previous owner, so I'm worried & unsure about her. I need to pull blood & send it to biotracking for her CAE & pregnancy test, just haven't got around to ordering the supplies...

I had planned on holding off on my Lamanchas.... But as stupid as this sounds, I had a dream that my boy, Tonka, died & now I'm paranoid. He is my best bred goat & I really, really want a daughter from him. Casper is big enough to breed, & though she's the better quality doe out of my Lamanchas, she's a dam raised, scatter brained fool & if she doesnt change, she'll be on the sale list after kidding.... So I may breed her for May kids....

Oh the joys of goats! lol

I wish I had access to raw cow's milk..... It's still not my prefered drinking milk, but I'd at least be able to make lots of butter :)

I found someone local with milk goats....visited them & had planned on getting some milk, but after seeing their herd management & unsanitary milking practices, I decided to pass..... I'd rather go through milk withdraws than drink that stuff!

farmerstac said...

I can feel your pain can't wait till I can get dairy goats again

Everstuff said...

I am so jealous of the goats, the milk, and the chickens from the last post. Everything got put on hold this summer when I spent two stay-cations in the hospital. No chickens, no garden, no goats. I almost have hubby talked into a big lovely Nubian. He has the stuff for the chicken coop.

* Crystal * said...

Aww, I'm sorry Everstuff :( I hope you're making a full recovery from your hospital stay?

Warning, goats are addictive. lol I considered Nubians..... In my area they sell the best & you can't top Nubian kids for cuteness factor. But I had Alpines as a child & adore them..... When I considered a second breed with higher butterfat I almost went with Nubians.... But I got the oddball Lamanchas instead..... Hardy, same butterfat as Nubians, heat tolerant....& much quieter than Nubians :)

As far as chickens go.... My first post about the chicks in March I talked about definately having their coop built by the time they came out of the brooder... Ha!! Here it is December & they still roost in the trees, with the goats our under the

Hang in there & once you're recovered hopefully you'll get those 2 Nubians (cause ya must have more than one!)

Thanks for stopping by Farmerstac, I hope you'll be able to get your dairy girls again soon! This milk withdraw is hard :(

Sarah Jean said...

Oh! I know just how you feel! We went to once a day milking at the beginning of the month, we are not looking forward to no milk!! Although I do have to admit I AM looking forward to less chores! Especially now that our meat chickens are in the freezer...chores only take about 30 minutes instead of 45!!


Rechelle Fleck said...

Your Sabrian's udder, teats, and production are practically IDENTICAL to my Saanen doe Sugar. She is due to kid in April, so one of the kind folks at Homesteading Today forwarded this link to me. Now I have a better grasp on how to dry up my heavy producer!! Thank you so much for posting this!!

petey said...

I am already grieving drying up Miss EmmaLouMoo, and that isn't until MAY! But the evil Prissy should be fresh before then. I saw her and the borrowed buck that is her beau sealing the deal just last week....

Sarah Rachele said...

It's going to be hard not to keep those babies! Our goats are due to kidd soon too and we can't keep any of them, but I know we're going to want to. :)

* Crystal * said...

I agree Sarah Jean! The lightened chore load is nice!

Rechell- Thanks for stopping by! How neat that Sabrina has an "udder twin" across the globe. I wish I had taken a picture of her full, dunno how she walks with that thing! lol If I were needing milk for bottle kids or was doing something like milk test, I probably wouldn't have gone such a long route of drying up....But since she gave enough milk for us even with cutting back, I was happy to drag out the process a bit.

Petey, I do envy your Jersey milk & all that easy to get cream for butter making! Good to know you'll at least have Prissy freshening so you won't be without fresh milk.

Sarah Rachele- You're supossed to tell me that of course you know I won't keep anything & my will power is so strong I won't even be tempted!! lol

Good luck on resisting cute baby goat temptation!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I had no idea a goat could produce so much milk.

I'm new to your blog & have really enjoyed it. I didn't know goats could be "pretty", when I think of goats I think of scruffy animals with horns & smelly, but yours are beautiful & graceful looking. Must research more into these dairy goats!


Anonymous said...

Greetings from Southern California

I am Your Newest Follower

Have a Nice Day :-)

* Crystal * said...

Howdy Ron! I'm your newest follower, though when I tried to leave a comment on your blog, comments were disabled.

Thanks so much for stopping by & becoming a follower, looking forward to reading more of your blog :)

Francesca said...

I grew up on goat's milk in Sicily, it was the only milk we could get. Happy New Year!

amigo2be said...

Like you we are anxiously awaiting that glorious goatie goodness. It has been far too long with out a swig of white gold! May your does produce kids and milk in abundance!