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.
Sounds good! And thanks for the updates. If I keep following your blog, by the time I have critters of my own, I’ll know a lot more.
El, that’s a lot of goat milk. Are you making cheese, yogurt? Is goat milk nice to drink straight up?
One of the best meals of my life consisted of goat yogurt right off the farm on boiled new potatoes, with grilled mackerel fresh off the boat, on a beach in Nova Scotia. Go pitch your tent on a beach on Lake Michigan, and give it a try!
Yay! When I look into my crystal ball, I see goat cheese in your future!
Really, a year from giving birth she’ll still be giving milk? I did not realize it was that long.
Looking forward to read about the yogurt and cheese making…
hooray! congratulations! I will not have milk for quite some time as all my goats gave birth to triplets. (sad face).
Cheese! Oh boy!
Mme Slif, exactly: I am trying subtly (maybe not so) to convert you all!! heheheheheh
Brett, it’s just fine straight-up. In fact it is unusual to have milk that fresh! Wacky! Right now though we’re *only* getting a quart a day which is what my daughter and I normally consume a day. So far the only thing I have made with it is crepes! But indeed yogurt is in our near-future.
Aastricker, I am hoping by May!
Paula, indeed. Although my eyes have been running to the hard Italian cheeses section of the book lately.
Sylvie, it’s called “milking through.” My plan is to get our yet-to-be-born doeling (we’ll get her in May) pregnant this fall and then use T-bell for milk through a year from July or so, then dry her up and get her pregnant again for babies in spring 2012. (Want to give her a year off from having babies.) So next spring I will be probably milking 2 goats!
Aimee, you certainly won the threesome lottery. I am so sorry to hear about the bad birth, that’d have scared the hell out of me. Hope the babies are doing well after the disbudding.
Stef, and yogurt, and yogurt cheese, and kefir! whee!