Dairy Goats: Sustainable Production

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Dairy Goats: Sustainable Production

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Dairy Goats: Sustainable Production

  1. 1. DAIRY GOATS: SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION GUIDE National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service www.attra.ncat.orgAbstract: Dairy Goats: Sustainable Production is intended for those interested in starting a commercial goatdairy. It discusses the five major considerations to be addressed in planning for dairy goat production: labor, sales andmarketing, processing, regulations, and budgeting and economics. It includes production information specific to dairygoats, including choosing breeds and selecting stock. A resource list for further information about dairy goat productionfollows the end notes. This is a companion piece to ATTRA’s Goats: Sustainable Production Overview. The Overview should be read first, since it contains production information for goats in general, including graz- ing management, fencing, reproduction, nutrition, diseases and parasites, and resources. Contents By Linda Coffey, Margo Hale, and Paul WilliamsIntroduction ....................1 NCAT Agriculture SpecialistsGetting Started................2 Labor ............................2 © 2004 NCAT Marketing ....................3 Processing ....................3 Farm Profile: Split Creek Farm, South Carolina ..............5 Regulations ..................5 Budgeting ....................7ProductionNotes ..............................10 Selecting stock ............10 Farm Profile: Redwood Hill Farm, California ...........14 Feeding ...................... 15 Milking ...................... 18 Health ........................ 21 IntroductionConclusion ................... 24 In 1994, world-wide production of goat milk was approximately 10.5 Farm Profile: million tons. In the United States at that time, there were approximately Blufftop Farm, one million dairy goats producing 600,000 tons of milk, about 300 known Arkansas ..................... 25 dairy goat businesses, and at least 35 known commercial goat-cheese mak-Resources ...................... 26 ers. These cheese makers produced about 640 tons of U.S. goat cheeses,References .................... 30 while at least another 650 tons of goat cheese were imported that year from France alone.(Haenlein, 1996)ATTRA is the national sustainable agriculture information service operated by the NationalCenter for Appropriate Technology, through a grant from the Rural Business-Cooperative Service,U.S. Department of Agriculture. These organizations do not recommend or endorse products,companies, or individuals. NCAT has offices in Fayetteville, Arkansas (P.O. Box 3657, Fayetteville,AR 72702), Butte, Montana, and Davis, California.
  2. 2. Dairy goats are enjoyable animals, easy to skillful kid raising, and good general health carehandle and haul, and relatively inexpensive to are essential for success. In addition, costs mustpurchase, feed, and house. Dairy goat produc- be kept under control. Most important of all istion, especially pasture-based production, offers marketing; a viable business requires a healthythe opportunity for profitable and sustainable di- demand for the product or products producedversity on a small farm. For example, a vegetable and a price that allows a profit.farm can use goats to clean up residue and fertil- Because commercial production is so muchize the land, while producing milk for the family more challenging than keeping a few dairy goats,or for raising kids, calves, pigs, or other livestock. this publication will first address the major issuesGoats will browse and help keep pastures from of labor, marketing, processing, regulations, andbeing overrun with woody species. budgeting. The production notes— including In some locations, Grade A dairies may have selecting stock, feeding, breeding, and milk-a market for fluid milk. Goat milk can often be ing— compose the second major section. Finally,enjoyed by people who are allergic to cows’ milk, budgets and a list of further resources are alsoand infants of all species generally thrive on goat provided.milk. Value-added products such as cheese andyogurt made from goat milk are finding a grow-ing acceptance in the dairy market, with sales of Getting Startedgoat cheese increasing more than 16% in 2000. Things to be considered before entering(Specialty Cheese Market, 2001) a commercial dairy goat business include the However, producing dairy animals and availability of labor, the marketing outlook,dairy products requires a great commitment of processing options, regulations, budgeting, andtime and energy and consistent attention to de- economics.tail. Proper nutrition and milking procedures, Labor Labor is a major concern. Do you enjoy goats Related ATTRA publications enough to spend mornings and evenings, seven days a week, week after week, feeding, milking, Goats: Sustainable Production Overview and cleaning up? Do you have the support of Sustainable Goat Production: Meat Goats your family in this? Many dairy producers have Small Ruminant Sustainability faced frustration and burnout after trying unsuc- Checksheet cessfully to hire competent help. If your family is not willing to help with the business, you should Rotational Grazing probably consider a less demanding enterprise. Sustainable Pasture Management Estimates vary regarding the labor de- Integrated Parasite Management for mands of a goat dairy. Dr. Robert Appleman Livestock believes that a 100-doe dairy selling fluid milk Predator Control for Sustainable & Organic to a processor will require about 1.5 full-time Livestock Production workers.(Appleman, 1989) Appleman’s calcula- tions: Value-added Dairy Options • Milking: 25 does/person/hr (305 days) Assessing the Pasture Soil Resource • Set-up and clean-up: 40 min. daily Dung Beetle Benefits in the Pasture Ecosystem • Manure handling and bedding: 25 min. daily Grazing Networks for Livestock Producers • Feeding hay and grain: 30 min. daily Matching Livestock & Forage Resources in Controlled Grazing • Heat detection: 30 min./day for 6 months Multispecies Grazing • Breeding: 20 min. x 2 breedings Nutrient Cycling in Pastures • Miscellaneous: .5 min. daily per doe Introduction to Paddock Design & Fencing– Some of the above figures are per doe, while Water Systems for Controlled Grazing others are per herd. Total labor per doe inPAGE 2 //DAIRY GOATS: SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION
  3. 3. Appleman’s budget is 34.7 hours per year, 70% of out if they feel the pay for the milk is goodwhich is spent milking.(Appleman, 1989) enough to make the goatkeeping effort worth- In contrast, a Pennsylvania State Univer- while. (Remember that feed and other costssity budget estimated labor as 22 hours per doe vary greatly and a “good milk price” in one area may be too low for another.) You may get someper year to run a 100-doe facility (Penn State, surprises when you ask this question... Be cau-http://agalternatives.aers.psu.edu/livestock/ tious about new startups. Sometimes they havedairygoat/budget1.htm), while another bud- a lot of enthusiasm but no idea how difficult itget considered 13.6 hours per doe per year will be to market their milk or cheese or otherto be sufficient for a 100-doe herd.(Rutgers product in the quantities they need… Are thereCooperative Extension, http://aesop.rutgers. patrons shipping milk to the buyer now? Talkedu/~farmmgmt/ne-budgets/organic/DAIRY- to them, all of them. Are they getting paid? IsGOAT-1500LB-MILK.HTML) With so much the buyer taking all the milk he promised hevariation in estimates, you may want to visit a would?... How good is the market for whatproducer who has a dairy the size you intend to they are planning to sell? (Kapture, 2001)operate, work beside the farmer for a week or In many areas of the United States, thereso if possible, and ask what that farmer thinks is are no processors. In some areas, a processor isrealistic. Facilities and efficiency of milking, feed- available but already has enough milk produc-ing, and cleaning can account ers on contract. Therefore, itfor a lot of the difference, and is vital to be sure you have athat should be kept in mind market for your milk. If youas you plan your dairy farm. are unable to sell to a proces-Also, note that these figures do sor, it may be feasible to sellNOT include any value-added It is vital to be sure to individuals raising babyprocessing or marketing time; you have a market animals, or to market the milkif on-farm processing is part of for your milk. through your own livestockyour business, labor costs will (raising calves, for example,be significantly higher. and selling them for meat). In © Ana Labate • www.sxc.hu some areas it is possible to sellMarketing milk directly to individuals for If labor is available, the next concern is mar- human consumption, but in MANY states thatketing. What product or products do you hope to is ILLEGAL. To find out what is legal in yoursell? Is there an unmet demand for that product state, contact the agency responsible for dairyin your area? If so, what price can you realisti- regulations. The American Dairy Goat Asso-cally expect to receive? Can you make a profit if ciation (ADGA) lists the contact information foryou sell at that price? state agencies on its Web site, www.adga.org. In the case of fluid milk, a prospective pro- Go to “Starting a Grade A or Grade B dairy,”ducer must first locate a reliable buyer. Judy www.adga.org/StartDairy.htm.Kapture, long-time producer and columnist for Marketing to individuals will require muchthe Dairy Goat Journal, issues a strong warning to more time and effort and will be harder to initiate.the farmer planning to start a goat dairy. For example, a milk truck going to a commercial You are certainly wise to be cautious. I can dairy may pick up 200 gallons of milk every other tell far too many stories about people who day. If there is no milk truck, how much milk can used all their money to set up their farm as a you sell each week? If the answer doesn’t equal goat dairy, and then never did sell any milk. “all of it,” what will you do with the rest? The Or their milk market fizzled out within a available market is a major factor in determining year... Get in touch with them (the buyer) to your scale of operation (herd size). find out if they actually are planning to buy more milk. Learn the details—how much milk do they want from a farm, what do they Processing Some producers choose not to deal with a pay for milk, is winter production a neces- sity, what do they charge for hauling, etc. milk buyer and hope to increase their farm profits by processing the milk themselves. Diversifying Then talk with some of the people who are the products you sell may offer more income and shipping milk to them now. You want to find financial stability. Those products might include //DAIRY GOATS: SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION PAGE 3
  4. 4. fluid milk, milk-fed pork, goat cheese of one or cheese is going to cheese shops or restaurants,more varieties, yogurt, fudge, goatskins, meat, or and your fudge and soap to gift shops. Yougoat-milk soap or lotions. may find in such a case that it is a terrible Cheese is a good alternative to selling milk, decision to expand your line.(Stanton, 2002)particularly if you like direct marketing. It is legal Brit and Fleming Pfann, owners of Celebrityto use raw milk in making cheese if the cheese is Dairy in North Carolina, have said, “Marketingaged at least 60 days before sale.(Dairy Practices takes a huge amount of time, and as we’ve gottenCouncil, 1994) Fresh cheese must be made with more involved in cheese-making and in sellingpasteurized milk. Cheesemaking classes will the cheese, we’ve found that we have very littleprove helpful, and much practice, experimenta- time to spend with the animals.”(Pfann, 2002)tion, and sampling will be necessary before you Other farmers have echoed that observation, andare ready to market farmstead cheese. You must this is disappointing to those who enjoy the goatsabide by regulations (talk to your inspector about far more than processing or marketing. If youwhat is involved). Cheese-making resources are yourself do not want to be involved in market-discussed in The Small Dairy Resource Book (see ing, then you will need a partner who is capable,Resources: Contacts), and Caprine Supply and reliable, and enthusiastic.Hoegger Supply Company (see Resources: Sup- Your customers can be local individuals,pliers) offer several books about cheesemaking. restaurants, farmers’ market patrons, grocery Edible products will require stores, or even mail-order anda Grade A dairy, commercial Web customers. Harvey Con-kitchen, and licenses (contact sidine cautions against pricingyour state agency for more products too cheaply.details), while soap making In a competitive market such asdoes not. Soap is non-perish- goat cheese, one must be constant-able, easy to ship, and does ly aware of what the competitionnot require much milk. These is charging, but even then every-advantages make soap an ap- one must know their own costs ofpealing option for small farm production. If you do not coverenterprises. those costs you will not be long Any further processing (be- in business. Keep in mind that other factors than competition canyond selling bulk fluid milk) justify price... My counsel alwayswill create extra demands on the is to produce a high-quality prod-farmers, since they must some- uct consistently and charge whathow tend not only to the dairy- Cheese is a good alterna- you must to make your ventureing but also to the processing, tive to selling milk. profitable.(Considine, 1999)packaging, marketing, delivery, There are successful farm-and paperwork.(Dunaway, stead cheesemakers, and their stories may inspire2000) Also, while diversifying products may you. Their experiences should help prospectiveadd stability (not all the eggs in one basket), producers think through the demands of theeach new product will require more equipment, occupation and decide whether family supportlabor, storage space, production knowledge and and available labor will be adequate to meetskill, and outlets and time for marketing. Unless the challenges. Some thoughts shared by Britthere is a large labor force available, too much and Fleming Pfann, of Celebrity Dairy in Northdiversification will be unsustainable. Dr. tatiana Carolina, www.celebritydairy.com, illustrate the[sic] Stanton points out the following. demands of farmstead cheese making. If you try to produce a whole line of products, it can make really big marketing demands on • Sustained long hours of work (all year) you if you are not going to sell them to the • Great breadth of skills (dairy animals, same buyer. For example, if you are a small cheesemaking, marketing) producer and are going to sell fudge, soap, • Significant capital investment and cheese all to the same local food co-op or over the Web, that is one thing. You are go- • ...and may return a modest annual ing to have to do a lot more marketing if your income.PAGE 4 //DAIRY GOATS: SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION
  5. 5. Another North Carolina goat dairy is the is under the jurisdiction of state departments ofGoat Lady Dairy; like Celebrity Dairy, it pro- health or agriculture (Zeng and Escobar, 1995),duces delicious farmstead cheese and has other and local requirements may vary. The Ameri-enterprises to diversify the farm income. Goat can Dairy Goat Association Web site, www.Lady Dairy also offers a class in farmstead cheese- adga.org/, includes contact information for themaking. To learn more about the dairy, visit authority in each state, and it is important towww.goatladydairy.com/. contact your state inspector early in the process For more information about processing your of setting up your commercial goat dairy. Theown dairy products, see the ATTRA publica- Web address for the contact information is www.tion Value-added Dairy Options and explore the adga.org/StartDairy.htm. State inspectors will beResources section of that publication as well as able to make helpful suggestions and can assistthis one. you in planning and procuring USDA-approved equipment. Many producers have commentedRegulations that their state inspectors helped them avoid expensive mistakes.Grade A Requirements The Langston University publication Grade The U.S. Food and Drug Administration A Dairy Goat Farm Requirements— on the Web atdrafted the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO), www.luresext.edu/goats/library/fact_sheets/which states that only pasteurized milk can be d04.htm— discusses the requirements for a Gradesold as Grade A. Enforcement of this ordinance A dairy. These include a milking barn or parlor with a floor made of concrete or other impervious material Split Creek Farm, South Carolina for easy cleaning, and walls Evin J. Evans and Patricia Bell and dust-tight ceilings that are smooth, painted or finished, Split Creek Farm, in Anderson, South Carolina, is a great and in good repair. Sufficient example of a farm that started out small and grew to be a large ventilation is needed to elimi- operation. Evin Evans and Patricia Bell’s goal was to be self-suf- nate condensation, minimize ficient, and that required gradual growth. odor, and provide comfort for Split Creek Farm started with three goats and a few acres. the milker. Adequate lighting Over the years Evans and Bell added to their herd and their pas- is required, as well as a stor- tures, fences, and barns. The herd, mostly Nubians, peaked at 750 age cabinet for medications. goats; the farm’s goat population now averages approximately Wooden milking stands are 275, with about half of those being milked. not acceptable.(Zeng and Es- Split Creek became a commercial Grade A Dairy in 1985 and cobar, 1995) started a small-scale cheese operation three years later. They A separate milk room is increased their production as the demand for goat cheese grew, required for cooling and stor- and by 1990 Split Creek had progressed from the original 4-gal- ing goat milk, to minimize lon vat batches to the current 150-gallon vat batches. Split Creek the risk of contamination currently sells raw milk, award-winning cheeses and fudge, soap, from the milking barn. The gift baskets, and folk art at a retail shop on the farm. Split Creek structure must be in good Farm’s primary concerns are herd health and the ultimate quality repair and easy to clean. The of the dairy products they sell. In keeping with their commitment floor should slope evenly to to sell natural products, Evans and Bell do not use hormones to a drain, and wash-sinks, hot enhance breeding or milk production, and herbicides and pesti- water, and on-site toilets are cides are not used on their pastures. required. Milking lines and Evans and Bell, with assistance from two full-time and two other equipment should be of part-time employees, care for the goats and produce and sell stainless steel or other smooth, the products. They have worked long and hard for what they non-absorbent material. Milk have accomplished, and they are proud of the quality of their storage tanks must have an ef- goats and their goat milk products. For more information on ficient cooling system. Fresh, Split Creek Farm, their products, and the crew behind it all, visit warm milk coming out of www.splitcreek.com. //DAIRY GOATS: SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION PAGE 5
  6. 6. pipelines or milking buckets must be cooled to tion (health certificate) issued by an accredited45 degrees F within two hours. The water supply veterinarian. (National Institute for Animal Ag-must comply with the Clean Water Act require- riculture, www.eradicatescrapie.org/index.html)ments, as enforced by the EPA, and a dairy waste Registered goats may be transported across statemanagement system must be in place. Grade A lines using registration tattoos as identification,dairies are inspected at least twice a year, and provided they are accompanied by their negativemilk samples are collected periodically. certificate registration or a health certificate list- ing the tattoo number.Scrapie Eradication Program Scrapie is a fatal, degenerative disease af- Raw Milk Salesfecting the central nervous system of sheep (and Many natural foods consumers want rawgoats, very rarely), one of the class of diseases milk. Many experts do not consider selling rawknown as transmissible spongiform encepha- goat milk an option at all, due to legal issueslopathies (TSEs). Other examples of TSEs in- and health concerns. Attorney Neil Hamiltonclude BSE in cattle and Chronic Wasting Disease discusses raw milk sales in his book The Legal(CWD) in deer and elk. There is no evidence that Guide for Direct Farm Marketing (see Resources:scrapie can spread to humans, but BSE, a TSE Books). Hamilton recommends contacting yoursimilar to scrapie, has been implicated in vari- state department of agriculture for informationant Jacob-Cruchfeld disease, on regulations.and therefore there is a concern The sale of unpasteurized milk isabout its potential to spread to Get the advice of your state the subject of regulation becausehumans. Negative public per- department of health before of concerns over the transmis-ceptions and the loss of export you agree to sion of diseases. In some states,opportunities have encouraged sell raw milk to such as Iowa, the sale of rawthe efforts to eradicate scrapie individuals. milk—even in small quanti-from the U.S. The incidence ties—is strictly prohibited byof scrapie in goats is extremely state regulation and the state officials take a rather rigorouslow, so it is highly unlikely approach on the issue. In otherthat your herd will be affected. states, officials have a more per-Nevertheless, goat produc- missive attitude toward the saleers (and sheep producers) are of raw milk, allowing small-scalerequired to participate in the personal sales to occur even ifScrapie Eradication Program. not specifically allowed by law.Details about this program are In some states dairy farmers areavailable by contacting your allowed to make limited salesstate veterinarian or by going photo by Charlie Rahm, USDA NRCS of raw milk directly to consum-to the National Scrapie Educa- ers as long as the sales meet the requirements established by lawtion Initiative Web site, www.eradicatescrapie.or or regulation. The requirements usually relateg/index.html. You must first contact your state to how the milk is sold, the quantity involvedveterinarian to request a premises identification and compliance with state sanitation require-number. For additional information or for help ments for the dairy operation.(Hamilton, 1999)in obtaining a premises ID number, call 866- Even if raw milk sales are legal in your state,USDA-TAG (toll-free). You will then receive free you will want to consider carefully the risks ofeartags with your premises ID printed on them, selling raw milk to customers. Many seriousand you must tag any breeding animals over the diseases can be transmitted to humans whoage of 18 months before they leave your farm. drink raw milk, including brucellosis, tuber-Dairy goat producers may use tattoos instead culosis, caseous lymphadenitis, leptospirosis,of ear tags, and the state veterinarian can assist Q Fever, staphylococcal food poisoning, andby assigning a premises ID that consists of your others.(Smith, 1994) Even if you are sure yourstate abbreviation and the ADGA tattoo sequence milk is pure, that the goats are healthy, that theassigned to the farm. In addition, any breeding milk has been handled with faultless cleanlinessgoat (or sheep) that crosses state lines (for shows and carefully cooled, and even if you regularlyor to be sold, for example) must be accompanied drink the milk with no ill effects, once the milkby an official Certificate of Veterinary Inspec-PAGE 6 //DAIRY GOATS: SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION
  7. 7. leaves your farm it may be carelessly handled to farmers who are currently in the businessand become unsafe to drink. This is especially to ensure that your plan and your budget arehazardous if the person drinking the milk has a realistic.weakened immune system or is very old or very Begin your calculations by taking the follow-young. Get the advice of your state department ing steps.of health before you agree to sell raw milk to • Do market research. Is there a market?individuals. What is the current price for your prod- uct, whether fluid milk for processing,Budgeting bottled milk, milk-fed livestock, cheese, Before beginning a commercial goat dairy, or soap? Is there a strong demand foryou must study the economic feasibility of the your product?enterprise. There are many sample budgets • Estimate production level. How manyavailable, but each must be customized to fit an does are you planning to milk? Howindividual farm. Investigate feed costs in your productive will they be, on average?area as well as the selling price of milk. Costs of (Does in a large herd typically producebuilding or converting barns, fences, and water- less than does in a hobby herd; ask sev-ing systems are key considerations. Initial invest- eral commercial producers what theirment in livestock and in milking systems will be herd average is, and be sure to selecta large expense. Commercial dairy producers does for your herd that can produceStephen and Beverly Phillips of Port Madison enough milk to be profitable.) Be as re-Farm near Seattle, Washington, offer the follow- alistic about production and marketinging insights based on their experience. as you possibly can. “It takes capital to expand into a commercial- sized dairy,” Stephen says. “You must have • Investigate costs. What does feed cost the money to grow or keep the off-farm job or in your area? How much feed will both. Sweat equity alone cannot do the job. you need in order to produce the amount of milk you plan to produce “A good plan, written down, is important to and sell? What about buildings, equip- measure your progress. Otherwise, you get ment, fencing, hay? You will need to so close to the proverbial trees that you do come up with marketing and hauling not realize that you have made progress. costs, health costs, costs of utilities, “When making improvements, it is supplies, breeding, and labor. Initial important to plan for the size you cost of breeding stock, cost of raising may need in four or five years. replacements, and an extra “cushion” for unexpected expenses must also be “And like most goat dairies, you considered. Remember that under-capi- need to beware of burnout.” talization can doom even a good busi- Beverly sums up her advice by em- ness venture. phasizing, “Don’t quit your day job • Consider labor NEEDED and available. too soon.”(Thompson, 1997) Plan for peak seasons such as kidding Bee Tolman, operator of the Tolman Sheep and breeding, as well as any laborDairy Farm, offered further advice to prospective needed for processing and marketing.dairy farmers at the 2002 8th Great Lakes Dairy • Compile a business plan. Your lendingSheep Symposium. agency will tell you what other figures Do a complete business plan before you do any- are needed; your local Cooperative thing else. Include all financial statements in Extension agent may be helpful. See detail. Don’t miss the details—they will be your also the Resources section for help with undoing. And be conservative. I was advised business plans. by a goat dairy farmer (who has since folded) Table 1 illustrates how production levels and to add 30% to all budgeted costs. I didn’t. I price influence your profits. These numbers are now know that if I had, my plan would have based on Roger Sahs’ goat dairy budget, which been far more accurate.(Tolman, 2002) is included in this publication. As Ms. Tolman points out, it is wise to talk The Minnesota Extension Service published a //DAIRY GOATS: SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION PAGE 7
  8. 8. very interesting look at the economics of the dairy 3. Marketing costs can be prohibitive.goat business in 1989. Robert D. Appleman, the 4. Unless one has a good market for ex-author, explored costs and returns from a 10-doe cess, it is not advisable to keep younghobby dairy and a 100-doe commercial dairy. His stock beyond that needed to maintainbudget (Economics of the Dairy Goat Business the doe herd productivity.— HG-80-3606) can be ordered by contacting 5. If milk can be sold at a price of $12/order@dc.mes.umn.edu. He also did some fasci- cwt or more, milk-fed kids sold at 25nating calculations, such as looking at the impact pounds for 80 cents per pound are notof a change in cost of one input on the cost of pro- profitable.ducing 100 pounds of milk, the influence of mar-keting registered kids, or of marketing kid bucks, 6. There is an economy to size, especiallythe labor required, and several other interesting when combined with considerable salescenarios. It is well worth reading the full article, of breeding stock.and figuring today’s costs for your area instead of 7. Emphasize high production per doe.Minnesota’s 1989 costs. Even though the article Maintaining dry does (non-breedingis out of date, Appleman’s conclusions offer food does that will have a long dry-pe-for thought, and are summarized below. riod) can quickly eliminate any profit 1. The cost of producing 100 pounds of potential.(Appleman, 1989) goat’s milk may vary from $22 to more Oklahoma State University Extension Spe- than $37. To return a profit, then, a gal- cialist Roger Sahs works on goat farm budgets lon of milk may have to sell for $3.20 or for dairy goat and meat goat enterprises (see more. attached budget–Table 2). He recommends that farm managers take the time to work out an en- 2. The greatest contributor to the high cost terprise budget. of producing goat’s milk is labor. Every effort should be made to minimize this …[an enterprise budget] would be an essential input. The greatest opportunity to ac- tool in evaluating whether such an alternative complish this is to mechanize the milk- would be to the manager’s financial advantage. Farm management skills and knowledge are a ing process. very integral aspect of success with commercial continued on page 10 Table 1. Sensitivity of Milk Production versus Price on Per Head Net Returns above Total Operating Costs for a 100 Head Commercial Dairy Goat Herd. * Expected Milk Prod. -10% -5% +5% +10% Price/cwt. (lbs.) $21.60 $22.80 $25.20 $26.40 $24.00 -20% 1600 $42.48 $61.68 $80.88 $100.08 $119.28 -10% 1800 $85.68 $107.28 $128.88 $150.48 $172.08 Expected 2000 $128.88 $152.88 $176.88 $200.88 $224.88 +10% 2200 $172.08 $198.48 $224.88 $251.28 $277.68 +20% 2400 $215.28 $244.08 $272.88 $301.68 $330.48 Break-even milk production above total operating costs is 1263 pounds/head at the $24.00 price of milk. Break-even milk price/cwt. above total operating costs is $15.16 using a production of 2000 pounds/head. *Break-even price and production are calculated to cover total operating costs only while keeping revenues from kid and cull sales constant. This table was developed using figures from the Dairy Goat Budget developed by the Department of Agricultural Economics, Oklahoma State University and included in the Economics section of this publication.(Sahs, 2003)PAGE 8 //DAIRY GOATS: SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION
  9. 9. Table 2.Dairy Goats 100 Head UnitClass #2 Grade Herd, Per Doe BasisOperating Inputs Units Price Quantity Value Your Value Mixed Feed CWT. 9.050 7.200 65.16 ________ Alfalfa Hay Tons 100.000 0.900 90.00 ________ Vet Medicine HD 10.000 1.000 10.00 ________ Supplies HD 12.000 1.000 12.00 ________ Utilities HD 18.000 1.000 18.00 ________ Doe Repl. Feed HD 32.800 1.000 32.80 ________ Kid Feed HD 22.000 1.000 22.00 ________ Breeding Fees HD 10.000 1.000 10.00 ________ Misc. Expense HD 6.000 1.000 6.00 ________ Marketing Expense HD 2.000 1.750 3.50 ________ Machinery Labor HR 7.500 0.847 6.35 ________ Equipment Labor HR 7.500 1.630 12.23 ________ Livestock Labor HR 7.500 7.692 57.69 ________ Machinery Fuel, Lube, Repairs DOL 5.32 ________ Equipment Fuel, Lube, Repairs DOL 12.57 ________Total Operating Costs 363.62 ________Fixed Costs Amount Value Your Value Machinery Interest At 6.75% 11.80 0.80 ________ Depr, Taxes, Insurance 2.38 ________ Equipment Interest At 6.75% 209.71 14.16 ________ Depr, Taxes, Insurance 26.31 ________ Livestock Doe Goat 105.00 ________ Buck Goat 5.25 ________ Repl Doe-Goat 37.50 ________ Interest At 6.75% 147.75 9.97 ________ Depr, Taxes, Insurance 18.90 ________ Total Fixed Costs 72.52 ________Production Units Price Quantity Value Your Value Goat Milk CWT. 24.00 20.00 480.00 ________ Male Kids HD. 20.00 0.90 18.00 ________ Female Kids HD. 50.00 0.65 32.50 ________ Cull Doe Goats HD. 50.00 0.20 10.00 ________TotalReceipts 540.50 ________Returns Above Total Operating Cost 176.88 ________Returns Above All Specified Costs 104.36 ________5% Doe Death Loss, 200% Kid Crop10% Kid Death Loss, 25% Doe Repl Rate(Sahs, 2003)Developed and processed by Department of Agricultural Economics, Oklahoma State University //DAIRY GOATS: SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION PAGE 9
  10. 10. continued from page 8 dairies. The ability to bear losses from business to milk the doe to see how easily she milks out, risk, a large capital base, and well trained labor taste the milk for flavor, and observe her disposi- are also important considerations.(Sahs, 2003) tion. An animal that is perfect for one use may Spend time working on budgets before com- not be the best choice for another.mitting the capital to a commercial enterprise. All buyers will need to find healthy goatsShow your budget to a commercial producer to that produce the quantity and quality of milkcheck whether your figures on costs, receipts, needed for their business. That is the essentialand expected production are realistic; then con- part. However, many producers will first choosesider whether your expected return is sufficient a breed that is personally appealing, then findcompensation for your efforts. Doing your breeders and visit farms to select goats for thehomework before taking the plunge will save dairy. Therefore, we will first discuss breeds,you much heartache and expense. Several other then address finding a breeder, evaluating health,sample budgets are included in this publication and production records.in the Resources section. Choosing a breed Breed choice will depend on how you willProduction Notes use the milk, the availability of the breed in or near your area, and personal preference. SinceSelecting stock there are differences in milk composition (% butterfat, % protein) and the quantity produced, Once you have figured out what productsyou will sell, have the business plan and budget some breeds will (on average) be more suitablefigured out, and are sure there is enough qualified for some farms than others. However, individu-labor and available capital to sustain the busi- als WITHIN breeds vary more than individualsness, you are in position to select goats for the BETWEEN breeds. For instance, while on aver-dairy. All the preliminary work will help you age, Saanens produce more milk than Nubiansto prioritize and budget the purchases of stock (see Table 3), some Nubians will produce moreand equipment, and to have an idea of what type milk than some Saanens (as illustrated in theof goats you need. For instance, commercial “range” column of the table). Though Nubiansproducers of fluid milk will want animals that may produce less milk than Saanens, the com-produce a lot of milk; depending on the milk position of Nubian milk makes it more suitablebuyer’s priorities, butterfat and protein percent- for cheesemaking. Therefore, it is important toages may also be important. A cheese maker will select individuals that possess the characteristicsbe more interested in total protein yield. Those you need. Production records are the best way towho plan to sell breeding stock will want to know this. (Production records will be discussedconsider production records, conformation, and later in this publication.)pedigree (including records of related Selecting a breed that is fairlyanimals). Those who are marketing common in your area may make it Provided by Crystal D’Eonmilk through kids may prefer a dual- easier to acquire (and to sell) breedingpurpose animal, such as the Nubian, stock, provided the other producersthat will bear meatier kids. A person have goals and management systemspurchasing a family milker will want similar to yours. Nubian Dept. of Animal Science, Oklahoma State University Toggenburg Saanens Dept. of Animal Science, Oklahoma State University Dept. of Animal Science, Oklahoma State UniversityPAGE 10 //DAIRY GOATS: SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION
  11. 11. Oberhasli LaMancha Dept. of Animal Science, Oklahoma State University Dept. of Animal Science, Oklahoma State University Provided by Karen Lee Alpines Dept. of Animal Science, Oklahoma State University Provided by Dave Battjes Personal preference plays a Alpines come in a wholemajor role in selecting a breed. range of colors and color pat Provided by Crystal D’Eon pat-Dairy farmers must spend terns and are slightly smallerhours with their animals, so get animals that you than Saanens. Like the Saanens and Toggenburgs,enjoy seeing, that will function on your farm, and the Alpines originated in the cool climate of thethat have dispositions that suit you. This is an Swiss Alps. Alpines are popular in commercialindividual choice, best made after observing indi- herds, and there are more Alpines on productionviduals of various breeds and working with them, test than any other breed (as of 2002).if possible. General descriptions of the breeds The Oberhasli is a Swiss dairy goat of me-are given below. Further information about the dium size. Its color is chamoisee (bay, withbreeds and contacts for the breed clubs are avail- deep-red bay preferred, accented with blackable from the ADGA Web site, www.adga.org. markings). Oberhaslis are not as numerous inDescriptions and pictures of the breeds may be the United States as the other breeds, and fewerfound on the Oklahoma State University Web site Oberhaslis are enrolled in DHI production test-at www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/goats/. ing. Therefore, it may be difficult to locate stock, In the United States, there are six full-size especially production-tested stock.dairy breeds available. They are Saanen, Al- Nubians are known for their floppy ears andpine, Toggenburg, and Oberhasli—the Swiss for producing milk that is highest in butterfat.breeds—and Nubian and LaMancha. They do not produce as much milk as the other Some producers raise crosses of these breeds; breeds, and are considered a dual-purpose goatthese crosses are referred to as “experimentals.” since they tend to be meatier than other breeds.The Swiss breeds have similar body and ear Nubians are sometimes referred to as the “Jerseysshapes and similar milk composition. of the goat world” and are the most common Saanens tend to be larger than the other breed in the United States. Some producers thinkSwiss breeds, and are generally heavy milkers they are not well suited to a commercial dairywith slightly lower butterfat percentages. They because of their active and energetic disposition.are white goats with erect ears and are known Others appreciate the Nubian’s contribution tofor being gentle and productive milkers with the bulk tank, especially if the milk is intendedlong lactations. Saanens are sometimes called for cheese, yogurt, or ice cream.“the Holsteins of goats.” Saanens may sunburn LaManchas were developed in the Unitedand must have some shade available during hot States, and these goats are also easily identifiedweather. by their distinctive ears. LaManchas have very Toggenburgs are recognized by their color tiny ears, and sometimes appear to have no outerpattern, since they are always brown with white ear at all. LaManchas are smaller than the otherlegs, white stripes down the side of the face, and dairy breeds, but they are very good producersother white markings. They are medium sized, of sweet, creamy milk. Breeders of LaManchassturdy, and hardy. On average, their milk is claim that these goats are docile and sweet-tem-lower in butterfat and in protein percentages than pered. They can be any color.the other breeds. //DAIRY GOATS: SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION PAGE 11
  12. 12. Visiting a breeder no swollen joints or misshapen udders) Visiting other producers can help you select a • No abscessesbreed or breeds. Locating a good breeder is key to • Proper body condition (not fat or exces-getting your business off to a good start. To find sively thin)breeders in your area, you can check with yourlocal Extension service. The American Dairy Goat • Firm, pelleted manureAssociation (ADGA, www.adga.org) publishes • Well-shaped udders and teats (sym-a directory of breeders every year, including metrical udders)contact information and a list of breeds raised byeach member. It is well-organized and is free to A herd that meets all these visual criteriamembers ($35.00 annual dues). gives evidence of being healthy and well-man- You may want to visit three or four breeders aged.before making a purchase; this gives you the op- Second, interview the herd owner or veteri-portunity to compare how the animals are raised, narian.fed, and housed, and to assess the overall health • What diseases have been problems inof the herd. Ask lots of questions (see the section this herd?below for some suggested questions). • What criteria do you use for selection or You should try to find a breeder who culling? • Is willing to provide health certificates • What diseases are tested for routinely? • Is part of the Dairy Herd Improvement • What is the vaccination and parasite Association (DHIA) management protocol? • Allows free access to all production and • Are replacement kids raised using pas- breeding records teurized milk, to reduce the incidence of • Manages a farm that has well-cared for milk-borne diseases such as CAE, animals and land Johne’s, mycoplasma, and others?Evaluating health • How long do does stay productive in ALL buyers of dairy goats should insist on this herd?healthy goats. There are three main ways to • How long is the average lactation in thisgather information about the health of a dairy herd?goat. • What is the average production level of 1. visual appraisal this herd? (Ask to see records.) 2. interview the owner or herd veteri- Third, ask that tests be run on the does you narian are considering. These tests will increase the 3. request that certain tests be performed, such as a. mastitis test (by milk culture or California Mastitis Test) b. blood tests to check for CAE, TB, brucellosis, etc c. fecal tests to screen for inter- nal parasites Ideally, all three methods (visual,interview, and testing) should be used. First, examine the whole herd, look-ing for • Shiny coats • Lively manner • Easy movement (no limping, Visual appraisal is one way to evaluate health.PAGE 12 //DAIRY GOATS: SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION
  13. 13. Table 3. ADGA BREED AVERAGES-2002 LACTATIONS AVE. AGE DOES 275-305 DAYS Number BUTTERFAT PROTEIN at START of MILK lbs RANGE IN MILK of Does % lbs % lbs LACTATION ALPINE 699 3y2m 2254 840-5300 3.5 78 2.9 64 LAMANCHA 216 3y3m 2097 1050-3510 3.9 81 3.1 65 NUBIAN 445 2y11m 1746 640-3670 4.8 84 3.7 65 OBERHASLI 68 2y11m 2062 990-3629 3.7 76 2.9 61 SAANEN 432 2y6m 2468 970-5630 3.4 84 2.9 71 TOGGENBURG 184 3y5m 2015 860-4480 3.2 64 2.7 55 Based on 2002 ADGA DHIR Individual Doe Records Averages compiled by the ADGA Production Testing Committeecost of the animal, and you should be prepared ductive animal. Type classification, also knownto absorb at least some of that cost. Some tests as linear appraisal (an objective score given bymay not be necessary; if the veterinarian certifies a trained judge, who provides a professionalthat there are no suspected cases of Johne’s, for appraisal of an animal’s conformation), may beinstance, and you observe that all animals appear available and offers another tool for selectinghealthy, you may choose to forgo the Johne’s animals with desirable traits. Pedigree recordstest. Check with your veterinarian about which are also very useful, since they give informationdiseases are occurring in your area, and get his about the genetic makeup of the animal. For aor her recommendations on which diseases are complete description of these tools and how toworth testing for. use them, as well as a wealth of information about Buying healthy stock initially will save you what to look for in a good dairy goat, see Dairymuch money, time, and disappointment in the Goat Judging Techniques, by Harvey Considine.long run. Diseases shorten the productive life This book can be ordered from www.dairygoat-of the animal and reduce the chances of a profit- journal.com/bookstore.html for $16.95.able farm; therefore, it is wise to spend effort and When examining production records, keepmoney in the beginning to secure healthy ani- in mind that production is naturally much lowermals. See the Health section of this publication during the first lactation. Examine the recordsand of the ATTRA publication Goats: Sustainable to see overall production in pounds, length ofProduction Overview for more information about lactation, and butterfat and protein percentagessome diseases to be aware of. (if those are important to your operation). Bear in mind that your own management will be aProduction records major factor in the doe’s production on your farm; Having verified that the stock is healthy, the production records only verify that a goat hasnext concern is their productivity. Keeping your the genetic potential to produce milk. To learnneeds (that is, the needs of your dairy products more about production records, type evaluationcustomers) in mind, investigate the productive (linear appraisal), and the DHI program, visit thepotential of each animal. Production records American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA) Webfrom the Dairy Herd Improvement Association site, www.adga.org.(DHIA) of the individual and of its relatives offer DHI records are useful when purchasingthe best insurance that you are purchasing a pro- goats, but are even more useful as a management //DAIRY GOATS: SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION PAGE 13
  14. 14. Redwood Hill Farm, California Jennifer Bice (The following was adapted from an Redwood Hill Farm employs 12 people, as article by Jennifer Bice in the Dairy Goat Jour- well as 5 work exchange students from other nal, September/October 2003. Ms. Bice is the countries. These students stay for 12 to 18 owner of Redwood Hill Farm. The complete months. They come from agricultural col- article, including a diary kept by Redwood lege programs in their own countries to live, Hill’s farm manager, can be found on page work, and learn in the United States. While 57-60 of that issue.) the students don’t always have direct dairy goat experience, they Redwood Hill Farm Grade learn quickly and are high- A Goat Dairy is located ly motivated. Currently in Sebastopol, Sonoma Redwood Hill Farm has Country, California. Se- students from Bulgaria, bastopol is near the coast, Hungary, Turkey, Hon- about 50 miles north of duras, and France. San Francisco. Redwood Redwood Hill Farm r Hill Farm is a “farmstead S enju is now building a larger ojan operation” because in addition ©B processing plant to meet the to producing a unique line of arti- demand for its goat milk products. sanal goat-milk cheeses and goat-milk yogurt From award-winning animals (including in five flavors, the farm manages its own herd ADGA National Champions in four breeds) of 400 dairy goats (Alpine, LaMancha, Nubian to gold medal awards for their cheese and and Saanen). yogurt at product competitions, Redwood The farm was started in the 1960s by Ken- Hill Farm strives to be the best. That, along neth and Cynthia Bice and their 10 children. with providing a good life for its employees Active in 4-H with many different animal and the dairy goats themselves, is a big part species, the family quickly made dairy goats of the Redwood Hill Farm mission. their favorites. Jennifer Bice and her husband, This story was written for the introduction to Steven Schack, took over the family farm in the Commercial Dairy Diary feature in the Dairy 1978 and expanded the business and product Goat Journal, September/October 2003. For a line. Steven died in 1999, and Jennifer knew copy of this article/issue or other issues, please go that continuing the business would be the best to www.dairygoatjournal.com or call 1-800-551- way to honor his memory. 5691. For more on Redwood Hill Farm, see their With a herd of 400 registered dairy goats, Web site at www.redwoodhill.com. a Grade A dairy, and a processing plant,tool after purchase. In some areas, the cost is as Producers who are on DHI test say that itlow as $2.00/month/goat. From the information costs nothing, because it returns such valuableyou can information that it more than pays for itself. • Measure real productivity Eliminating unproductive individuals will im- prove the sustainability of your farm; records are • Track persistency through the lactation the best tool in this effort. For more information • Evaluate the effect of a feed change about production testing and to locate a DHI in • Select your best producers and cull the your area, talk to local producers, contact your lowest ones local Extension agent, or visit the Animal Im- • Identify potential mastitis problems provement Programs Laboratory (AIPL) Web site at www.aipl.arsusda.gov/. (The AIPL site • Improve the profitability of your herdPAGE 14 //DAIRY GOATS: SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION
  15. 15. contains production, type, and pedigree records many kinds of plants, including browse plantscompiled by ADGA and DHI, as well as other such as blackberries, multiflora roses, willows,information.) The American Dairy Goat Associa- or Russian olive, is ideal. Cool-season annualstion (www.adga.org) also provides information such as ryegrass will provide a lush, high proteinabout production testing and type evaluation. forage in the early spring before many other Finally, when selecting stock, keep in mind grasses are tall enough to graze. In the winter,that the most important part of the herd is the a good mixed-grass hay (cut at an early stage ofbuck. As the sire of your next generation, the maturity) is ideal. Goats will eat a wide varietybuck is “half of your herd,” and choosing an ex- of plants, including weeds. They are selectivecellent buck is the quickest way to improve the eaters that will seek the most nutritious plantsherd. Again, production records (on the dam, while grazing, browsing, or eating hay. They aredaughters, and on any other relatives) are the best also wasteful eaters, and therefore it is wise toway to assess the usefulness of the buck. Linear help them use their feed more efficiently by con-appraisal will also be helpful, if available. The trolling their grazing and by feeding them onlysire you select should come from good bloodlines a little more hay than they will clean up. Thereand be healthy and fertile. Your veterinarian can is a trade-off here; if you allow goats to be veryperform a breeding soundness evaluation before selective, they will waste more feed, but they willpurchase. If that option is not available, at least produce more milk. If you are too strict with theircheck the scrotal circumference forage allowance, you will saveof the prospective sire (it should money on feed but lose incomebe at least 20 cm.), to get an from milk. Experience and ex ex-indication of sperm-producing perimentation with your ownpotential. It is not a guarantee herd and farm will help you findof fertility, however. Please refer that happy medium. For moreto Goats: Sustainable Production information about pastures andOverview for more details on AT- rotational grazing, see the ATselecting a buck and evaluating TRA publications Sustainablebreeding stock. Pasture Management Rotational Management, Choosing healthy stock with Grazing Introduction to Paddock Grazing,good genetics is an important Design and Matching Livestock Design,step in setting up a sustainable Resources. Needs and Forage Resources Alsofarm. However, in order to live check with your local Extensionup to their potential, the animals informa- and NRCS agents for informamust be well managed and cor- tion about what forage plants dorectly fed. In order to make a well in your area. Informationprofit with dairy goats, this must about the grazing habits of goatsbe accomplished economically. is provided in the ATTRA pubpub- lication Goats: Sustainable Production Overview.Feeding Some studies about pastures for dairy goats are To review the information contained in the discussed below.Overview, goats are ruminants, and their health Steve Hart and B. R. Min at Langston Uni-and productivity depend on the rumen function. versity are doing research on grazing-basedMicroorganisms in the rumen digest fiber, car- dairy goat production systems (see Resources:bohydrates, and protein and supply the animal Contacts). Dr. Hart points out that the “goal ofwith nutrients. Without those microorganisms, pasture management is to supply high qualitythe goat will die. Therefore, it is of paramount pasture starting at the beginning of lactation andimportance that the animal is fed appropriately maintain high quality forage in sufficient quanti-to keep the ruminal organisms healthy. ties throughout lactation.” This is very difficult The rumen microorganisms are “healthiest” and requires the establishment of several types ofwhen goats are eating good-quality forages, forage. At Langston (in Oklahoma), they grazedsuch as vegetative pasture. To get the best milk cool season annuals such as wheat, rye, or oats,production from your goats, you must provide perennials such as orchardgrass, Berseem cloverexcellent quality forages. A pasture that contains interseeded with wheat, and warm season grasses //DAIRY GOATS: SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION PAGE 15
  16. 16. such as crabgrass, sudangrass, millet, Johnson-grass, and cowpeas. While it is important tohave an assortment of forages available, it is alsocrucial to maintain those forages in a vegetativestate, because that is when their protein levelsand digestibility are highest. At the same time, it is very important tocontrol grazing so goats do not graze too closeto the ground, since that will hurt the plants’ability to regrow and will expose the animalsto more parasite larvae.Removing goats from the Goats will eat a wide variety of plantspasture when they havegrazed the grasses down it showed up. Because I couldto about 3 to 4” will greatly measure milk production on areduce parasite problems. daily basis, the sensitivity wasAnother practice that will much more noticeable with thehelp is to graze cattle after goats than if I had been run-the goats to pick up larvae ning steers… There was also aand “clean” the pasture. noticeable correlation betweenTilling or making hay after paddock moves, length of stay,grazing will also help. More and milk production. During the first three days in a freshinformation about internal paddock, milk productionparasites is provided in the ATTRA publication would rise then fall during the next three daysIntegrated Parasite Management for Livestock. from 5 to 10 percent. Another move to a fresh In 2001, producers Kristan Doolan and paddock would cause a 2 to 11 percent rise, thenGeorge van Vlaanderen of Does’ Leap Farm in as the stay lengthened, milk production wouldVermont conducted a Northeast SARE project start dropping again even though there wascomparing the production of dairy goats that still a large amount of forage left in the pad-either grazed pasture or browsed in a wooded dock. This leads me to believe that I need morearea (see Resources: SARE Project Producers). and smaller paddocks, more moves, and moreIn that experiment, the goats that browsed pro- goats to fully utilize the forage available while keeping pasture production up.(Baker, 1998)duced more milk and had longer lactations. Theinvestigators concluded that browse is at least as As mentioned previously, Drs. Hart and Minnutritious as pasture, and that the shade in the at Langston University have been conductingbrowse areas helped keep the does cooler, which research on grazing dairy goats. As part of thisalso helped production. The full article was pub- work, goats were fed four different rations:lished in The Dairy Ruminant Newsletter and then A — Control: Kept in the barn, fed alfalfare-printed in CreamLine, Winter 2002 issue. hay and a high level of grain (2/3 lb. of Darrell Baker also used SARE funding to grain for every pound of milk over 3.3 lbs.).explore the potential for using irrigated pasture B — Grazed and fed 2/3 lb. of grainat his dairy in Tucumcari, New Mexico. Over a for every pound of milk over 3.3 lbs.two-year period, Mr. Baker made observations C — Grazed and fed 1/3 lb. of grainand kept financial and production records. He for every pound of milk over 3.3 lbs.concluded that irrigated pasture provided a very D — Grazed, no supplemental grain.environmentally friendly way to produce milk, Researchers found that body condition of theand that dairy goats were a profitable way to does greatly influenced milk production, withuse irrigated pasture. His observations are of thinner does being less productive during theinterest, and we offer the following excerpt from lactation. Internal parasite problems also had ahis final report. negative effect on production. Milk production …I also noticed that the goats have an incredible responded to grain, increasing by 1.7 pounds sensitivity to pasture quality. I was expecting for every added pound of supplemental feed. this to some degree, but not to the degree that However, in the second year of the study, whenPAGE 16 //DAIRY GOATS: SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION
  17. 17. the does were kidded in better body condition, more than 50% of the diet).(Hart, 2004)does fed no supplemental grain produced 7.74 lb. 6. Feed cracked rather than ground grainsmilk/day, while those in the barn produced 8.91 to encourage rumination and thus sal-lb/day, and the does fed a small amount of grain ivation, which helps to buffer rumen(1/3 lb. for each pound of milk over 3.3 lb/day) acids and maintain favorable rumenproduced 9.17 lb/day. pH. Considering the cost of grain and alfalfa hay, 7. If you must feed high-concentrate dietsit seems likely that the goats on pasture were (for example, to an extremely high-much more economical to feed and produced producing doe during peak lactation),comparable quantities of milk. This has implica- divide grain into several small feedingstions for those considering organic dairies and and offer sodium bicarbonate to helpfor others who want to reduce feed costs. Hart buffer the rumen.notes that butterfat percentages were lower inthe second year for goats that were not supple- 8. If diets are not high enough in rough-mented. He also notes that having high-quality age, it may be necessary to feed a bufferforage available in adequate amounts is the key to (such as sodium bicarbonate) at 4% offeeding dairy goats on pasture. The full descrip- the concentrate ration in order to main-tion of this research is available on-line at www2. tain butterfat production.(Smith, 1994)luresext.edu/goats/library/field/hart02.html. 9. It is always important to monitor the As stated earlier, rumen microorganisms are feed consumption of your herd. If they“healthiest” and milk production is highest when are not cleaning up their grain, graingoats are eating high-quality forage. However, should be reduced and better qualityit is difficult (if not impossible) to provide good- forage offered.quality pasture year round. Also, dairy goatshave a high requirement for nutrients because Because of the lactation curve, individualthey are producing milk at a high level. Therefore, requirements change over the course of the year.supplementation with concentrates will usuallybe necessary. Care is needed when feeding concentrates Guidelines for supplementing(grain) to balance the energy needs of the goat lactating doesand to protect the ruminal organisms. With this • Start the doe on grain a month beforein mind, there are some general rules for feeding kidding and have her consumingdairy goats. about 1.5 lbs of grain by the time she 1. Graze goats on the highest-quality kids. This allows the rumen organ- forage available, and be sure there is isms to slowly adapt. a plentiful supply of good pasture or • After kidding, increase grain slowly good-quality hay. to about 3 lbs/day by 4 weeks post- 2. Lactating dairy goats need about 5 kidding. pounds of feed per day (dry matter • After peak lactation, feed according basis) per 100 pounds of goat, with to milk production. Feed 1/2 lb of at least half of this being forage. Some grain for every pound of milk over 3 goats will eat even more during peak lbs milk/day, along with good qual- lactation (up to 6% of body weight on a ity forage. For example, a goat pro- dry matter basis). ducing 8 pounds a day would get all 3. Goats require 12 to 14% protein in their the good forage she could eat plus diets (the higher amount is for growing 2 ½ pounds of grain, split into two kids or high-producing does). feedings (5 lb. milk over 3 lb. x ½ lb 4. Limit the feeding of grains so that the feed/lb milk). pH of the rumen stays in a favorable • Never feed more than 4 pounds of range. grain to a doe per day. 5. Increase grain levels very slowly (.2 lb (Hart, 2004, and Smith, 1994) every 3 or 4 days, to a maximum of no //DAIRY GOATS: SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION PAGE 17
  18. 18. Producers generally adjust the amount of supple- www.cybernet1.com/goatbrosmentary feed, rather than change the ration com-position. Care must be taken to avoid suddenchanges in diet, and careful observation is neededto monitor body condition and milk productionso that supplementary feed may be increasedor decreased when necessary. Over-feeding iswasteful and counter-productive, as it may resultin does that are too fat, have birthing problems,and do not milk well. On the other hand, under-feeding in late gestation will place the doe at riskfor metabolic diseases (pregnancy toxemia) andmay also reduce production through the lacta- The care and feeding of kids andtion period. The safest bet seems to be to allow replacement animals is just asthe pregnant doe plenty of good-quality forage important as feeding lactating does.— and be sure the doe is indeed eating plenty ofit. Allow 4 pounds of forage (dry matter basis) in the amount of grain fed after kidding.(Morand-per 100 pounds live weight of the doe. Fehr, 1978) Does that consume a lot of forage during Hart’s research at Langston University (seelate pregnancy will continue to eat ample forage Resources: Contacts) has also been exploringafter kidding, will be less susceptible to digestive the effect of level of grain supplementation ondisorders, and will yield more milk at the same milk production. See the Langston Web site atconcentrate level. One French study looked at the www.luresext.edu/goats/index.htm for moreeffects of the ration during late pregnancy and information.early lactation. One group of Alpine goats was While the focus of this section is on feedingfed a well-balanced diet, including alfalfa hay (as lactating does, you should remember that the caremuch as they wanted) and a limited amount of and feeding of kids and replacement animals isgrain during late pregnancy, with a slow increase equally important. Kids kept for replacementsin grain during early lactation. Another group should be fed lots of good quality forage so thatwas fed a restricted amount of hay, a large quan- they can reach 75% of their mature body weighttity of grain during late pregnancy, and a quickly in about 8 months. Breeding does to freshen asincreasing amount of grain after kidding. Each yearlings will increase their lifetime production.of the goats fed ample amounts of hay produced To increase your understanding of the kid’s di-about 148 pounds more milk on average during gestive system and how to feed young animals,the first 12 weeks of lactation than the goats fed refer to www.gov.on.ca/english/a restricted amount of hay, a large quantity of livestock/goat/facts/goatnutrition.htm,grain during late pregnancy, and a fast increase and www.sheepandgoat.com/articles/artificial- feeding.html. Another resource with information Here is a sample ration for lactating on kid rearing is the Dairy Goat Production Guide, dairy goats that provides 15% protein by Harris and Springer, University of Florida. and should be fed with good alfalfa hay. This guide includes a good general overview of raising dairy goats and is available on-line at Corn 100 lbs. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/DS134. Oats 100 lbs. Soybean meal, 50 lbs. Milking crumbles or pellets Goat milk production is usually seasonal in Dairy mineral l3 lbs. the U.S., with most dairy goats being bred in the fall and kidding in the spring. However, year Cane molasses 15 lbs. round production is required by some markets, Salt 3 lbs. and it is possible by staggering kidding. This is Total weight: 271 lbs. done by breeding does out of season, which re- (Considine, 1996) quires extra management. Milk production will be less in the does producing out of season com-PAGE 18 //DAIRY GOATS: SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION

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