What to feed lactating does (and underweight buck)?

Ridgetop

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My girls get more feed, give more milk but, full sized goats and heavy producers. I'd say close to 1# feed for 1# milk....plus hay, heavy on alfalfa.
Like Mini Horses says: Absolutely 1#:1# ratio milk to grain. You need to weigh the milk, not measure it by liquid volume, then feed a good dairy grain mix in the correct ratio per doe. If you feed the grsin to all the does at once, some will get pushed aside and you won't be able to ensure that each one gets her correct measure. Only feed grain to the milkers on the stanchion during milking. That way you can regulate how much each one gets. Cattle grain will work fine for dairy goats. Until you know how much your goats are giving you might want to pull the kids and bottle feed. Remember that milk volumes will change during lactation unless you are milking twice a day since the doe will adjust her milk production to what is being taken by kids. If you milk twice a day, she will continue to produce at a fairly even level for 8-9 months depending on her breeding. As the kids begin eating more browse, hay, etc. the lactation yield will drop off. Free feed good quality hay in addition to any grazing or browsing they are doing.

An 18 month old buckling is still growing. Definitely increase his hay and you can give him some of the cattle grain too, but since he is not rutting now, be careful not to feed an excess of grain. During rut some bucks will drop weight since they will be more interested in breeding than in eating. But they can pick up body condition when the does are settled and no longer cycling. Removing the does once they are bred will give him full access to all the feed in his pen.
 

ThePhoebeFive

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Does buck get hay? You've wormed and still needs weight....increase the feed!! As to does, size? Are kids nursing? Look, it takes WAY MORE energy to make milk than babies. NDs come in several sizes. If these are NOT from milk lines, you will not get good volume. You "may" be getting their limit.

Herbal dewormers help but only after you've killed any worms already there. Did you deworm kids? If not, do.

Appears you are taking milk for house in morning, letting kids have nursing all day. Right? Well, until you retrain the does to 2x day milking, you won't get volume you want.

My girls get more feed, give more milk but, full sized goats and heavy producers. I'd say close to 1# feed for 1# milk....plus hay, heavy on alfalfa. I use a 20% protein dairy pellet. Top dress with BOSS. And when pasture in, reduce some feed. For this I average 1.5-2.5 gal per day, per head. FF give less. There's no perfect answer, every animal differs.
All of our goats have coastal hay available at all times. The does are 50ish pounds. The kids are seven weeks old, so definitely still nursing and they are growing well. The does are from milk lines.

We just dewormed the babies a couple weeks ago.

So, since we are just milking once a day, the 1 cup each is reasonable for an FF that still has her babies?
 

ThePhoebeFive

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Like Mini Horses says: Absolutely 1#:1# ratio milk to grain. You need to weigh the milk, not measure it by liquid volume, then feed a good dairy grain mix in the correct ratio per doe. If you feed the grsin to all the does at once, some will get pushed aside and you won't be able to ensure that each one gets her correct measure. Only feed grain to the milkers on the stanchion during milking. That way you can regulate how much each one gets. Cattle grain will work fine for dairy goats. Until you know how much your goats are giving you might want to pull the kids and bottle feed. Remember that milk volumes will change during lactation unless you are milking twice a day since the doe will adjust her milk production to what is being taken by kids. If you milk twice a day, she will continue to produce at a fairly even level for 8-9 months depending on her breeding. As the kids begin eating more browse, hay, etc. the lactation yield will drop off. Free feed good quality hay in addition to any grazing or browsing they are doing.

An 18 month old buckling is still growing. Definitely increase his hay and you can give him some of the cattle grain too, but since he is not rutting now, be careful not to feed an excess of grain. During rut some bucks will drop weight since they will be more interested in breeding than in eating. But they can pick up body condition when the does are settled and no longer cycling. Removing the does once they are bred will give him full access to all the feed in his pen.
Each goat gets their grain separated from the others so that we can monitor what they're eating. So, I'm wondering if once we take the babies away, will we start getting more milk because they babies aren't taking it even if we milk once a day?

All of our goats have free access to hay all the time, so I can't really increase that for him. How much grain would you recommend giving him?
 

ThePhoebeFive

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They don't have much pasture since we live on 2 acres with only 1 acre available to them to graze. I don't know if that affects the amount of grain they (the does or buck) should get.
 

Ridgetop

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So, I'm wondering if once we take the babies away, will we start getting more milk because they babies aren't taking it even if we milk once a day?
Not necessarily. If you start miking only once a day, the goat will accommodate the amount that she can produce for one milking. Her udder is only so large and making her hold her 24-hour production to one milking will cuse a decrease in milk production. When you show dairy animals, you do not milk before the show so the udder distends, and the judge can see the capacity and attachments. However, the next day the animal gives slightly less milk because her body is telling her that less is required since it was not all removed the previous day. This is how animals dry up a milk supply when weaning their young. Their bodies tell them there is not a need for so much milk as their young begin eating other foodstuffs. If you want the maximum amount of milk production, you should milk every 12 hours twice a day. If you want less you can milk every 24 hours, but the amount of milk will lessen as the body tells the animal how much to make.

What quality and type of hay are you feeding? Here in So Cal we feed alfalfa - it is the cheapest variety since it is heavily grown here. Alfalfa is a high protein, high calcium hay perfect for dairy animals. You do have to supplement with grain for the maximum milk yield. If you are feeding a lower quality grass hay you will need to supplement with additional protein feeds.

One thing to remember is what type of goats you have. Dairy animals are known for their bony look when compared to meat animals. This is because their structure is different. It is possible that you have very dairy type animals and you are comparing them to meat type animals. If so, your dairy goats may not be as skinny as you think. A dairy animal that is lactating is putting most of her feed intake "into the pail" in the form of nursing her kids and producing milk. This is normal. If your animals are weak, sickly, or unable to produce enough milk for their kids (the kids will be constantly trying to nurse and crying, not growing properly, etc.) then you need to worry. Otherwise, you may not realize that they are good dairy type and don't need to carry additional flesh. A dairy animal that is ft is not a good dairy producer. Even dairy bucks are not thick and meaty like Boer bucks. Like I said diary animals have a different structure and look from meat animals. Di you ko anyone who had raised both dairy and meat goat breeds? If so, have them look at and feel the condition on your goats. It is possible that you are worrying for nothing.

If you continue feeding the dairy goats heavily while cutting down the amount of milk you are taking from them (weaning, or milking once daily instead of twice) the doe will put on some weight. However, condition levels are important before breeding for next year. If you cause your goats to gin too much weight they can have trouble settling (conceiving), it can cut the number of kids they have, and can cause them to have kidding problems.
 

ThePhoebeFive

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Not necessarily. If you start miking only once a day, the goat will accommodate the amount that she can produce for one milking. Her udder is only so large and making her hold her 24-hour production to one milking will cuse a decrease in milk production. When you show dairy animals, you do not milk before the show so the udder distends, and the judge can see the capacity and attachments. However, the next day the animal gives slightly less milk because her body is telling her that less is required since it was not all removed the previous day. This is how animals dry up a milk supply when weaning their young. Their bodies tell them there is not a need for so much milk as their young begin eating other foodstuffs. If you want the maximum amount of milk production, you should milk every 12 hours twice a day. If you want less you can milk every 24 hours, but the amount of milk will lessen as the body tells the animal how much to make.

What quality and type of hay are you feeding? Here in So Cal we feed alfalfa - it is the cheapest variety since it is heavily grown here. Alfalfa is a high protein, high calcium hay perfect for dairy animals. You do have to supplement with grain for the maximum milk yield. If you are feeding a lower quality grass hay you will need to supplement with additional protein feeds.

One thing to remember is what type of goats you have. Dairy animals are known for their bony look when compared to meat animals. This is because their structure is different. It is possible that you have very dairy type animals and you are comparing them to meat type animals. If so, your dairy goats may not be as skinny as you think. A dairy animal that is lactating is putting most of her feed intake "into the pail" in the form of nursing her kids and producing milk. This is normal. If your animals are weak, sickly, or unable to produce enough milk for their kids (the kids will be constantly trying to nurse and crying, not growing properly, etc.) then you need to worry. Otherwise, you may not realize that they are good dairy type and don't need to carry additional flesh. A dairy animal that is ft is not a good dairy producer. Even dairy bucks are not thick and meaty like Boer bucks. Like I said diary animals have a different structure and look from meat animals. Di you ko anyone who had raised both dairy and meat goat breeds? If so, have them look at and feel the condition on your goats. It is possible that you are worrying for nothing.

If you continue feeding the dairy goats heavily while cutting down the amount of milk you are taking from them (weaning, or milking once daily instead of twice) the doe will put on some weight. However, condition levels are important before breeding for next year. If you cause your goats to gin too much weight they can have trouble settling (conceiving), it can cut the number of kids they have, and can cause them to have kidding problems.
Wow, thank you! All of that was very helpful!

We're feeding coastal bermuda. It seems to be pretty good quality.
 

Ridgetop

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Check the average protein levels of Bermuda (there are charts on line) and compare to the amount of protein your dairy animals should be getting lb. for lb. There are also charts on line showing the required protein levels for lactating does, pregnant does, dry does, kids and bucks. By comparing those charts with the protein values of the food stuffs you are feeding you will be able to see if you need to add to the diet, and figure out what to add that is cost effective for you. Beet pulp is excellent but must be soaked well to avoid problems. We used to measure the morning's ration and soak overnight, then do the same with the evening ration and soak during the day.
 

Mini Horses

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Glad @Ridgetop went into depth about milking, quantities, supply/demand, etc. It will help you realize why and how milking works. Still, each doe will be her own person when you work with them. I have a couple who will dry up fast and easily. A couple who will easily milk thru -- milk 16-18 months, so skipping a kidding. Those girls are hard to dry off!! Does will also drop quantity for a couple days when in estrus, usually, during their lactation.

You should makes notes as to how each doe responds, produces, dries, off....production and length of lactation. If you stagger their breeding by a couple months, you will be able to milk pretty much year round -- if that's a desire.

I don't do milk testing or show. Mine are here for my enjoyment and their milk, which I use raw, share with friends and also sell. Some is used to feed other animals on the farm because I get a lot of milk. Cheeses are good, easy but, a time consideration. Soap -- yep, used to make and sell. Now make some when I need a supply. It's a very pleasing and individual relationship with your girls when you milk on a "personal" level. Appreciate their contribution to your life. 🥰. Enjoy them.

Kids are sold as are does I've raised and trained to milk. Also have a group of meat goats...again kids sell. It's a farm....the sales help support their feed. Fortunately I have acreage to pasture them. 👍

By the way, you're looking for overall 16% protein needs. I use a higher ratio feed that works well for those in milk and satisfies me.
 

Mini Horses

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Forgot to mention -- beet pulp soaking.

If you add water, then check those shreds or pellets a couple hrs later, it's unreal! They expand so much. That is good and can be bad if not soaked before feeding.

Goats do not chew well when eating. They chop and swallow...then regurgitate, chew, swallow. So at some point between dumping into feed pan and their chewing well -- an unsoaked/rehydrated pellet will swell when moistened. If this happens in wrong area of the process you can have them choke!!
 
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