So, T-bell birthed three babies on 27 February. I have consumed exactly two cups of the milk since then.
This is not unusual. There are two big reasons for this: one, triplets, and two, one rejected baby. So I have been milking her since the 27th, two times a day…and saving all the milk to give to the little mostly white baby, Number Three. The other two have all the milk they want from Mama. Even though Alpines are the Holsteins of the goat world (super milkers in other words) she’s only recently been able to exceed demand.
Any mammal has what’s called a “lactation curve.” If you plot the actual production on a chart, the top of the curve happens when the nursing babies are the biggest. This top of the bell in goats should happen when the kids are about two months old. Kids left with their mamas all the time will milk for many more months, beyond their “need” for the milk. Their true “need” kind of ends when they’re able to tolerate eating what mama does (and thus get their caloric needs met): browse (weeds, branches) and pasture-grazing, dried mixed hay, garden stuff, and grains in the form of goat chow. As of the first week of life, they’re already experimenting with hay. By week two, they were eating greenhouse goodies with T-bell. Now, at nearly five weeks, they’re out on the pastures for most of the day with her, eating, playing, pooping and sleeping in the sun.
And Number Three rejected part of the bottle last night. (Hooray!)
One should wean the babies by weight, not the calendar…especially with triplets. However, these guys are getting quite big. They should be able to move to their new home when they’re a little over two months old. Then, ALL the milk is mine! (rubs hands together greedily). There’s no telling how much it will be, but it should be somewhere around a gallon a day. At this two month mark, I will be tricking her lactation hormones that there are two month old babies that still need to be fed, so…she should stay at that top of the bell for a while. Eventually, her production will wane, but by next 27 February, she’ll still be producing.