For small sized goat milk farms, a portable milking machine for cow and goat use may be a great tool, helping farmers to save a lot of time and man work. Goats can get trained rather easily to get accustomed to the machines. The main thing is to use reward based training for that purpose, and either feed goats while milking them or give a tasty treat as soon as you are done milking.
Goats are mainly bred for three possible reasons: they are kept as pets or they are raised in small numbers for the family’s benefit or they are being bred in large numbers, for financial reasons, in large, production based farms. These farms can be specialized in breeding goats for meat or for milk production.
These animals’ physical and production features differ according to their breed, genetics, and purpose they are bred for. For instance, pygmy goats are mainly kept as pets, whereas Saanen goats are mainly used in high profile milk farms, given their high level of daily milk production they reach under the right feeding and care conditions.
What is an udder?
The udder is an organ that is made out of mammary glands. Its sole purpose is the secretion of milk. The udder is located in the rear end of the animal, hanging from the inguinal region, sometimes, when full of milk, reaching in between the animal’s hind legs. The equivalent of udders is breasts in humans and primates.
An udder is characteristic mainly to ruminating mammals, such as cattle, sheep, goats, and deer, and it is usually made of pairs of mammary glands. Goats, unlike cattle, have one pair of mammary glands, that come together in a single mass. Every mammary gland has a protruding teat that serves the purpose of regulating the excretion of milk secretion from the gland.
Udder health is of utmost importance to any goat farmer, on small or large sized farms, since it is key to livestock’s reproduction, feeding of calves and milk production. To maintain the udder in optimum health, special care measures are to be taken, such as daily close inspection with the purpose of noticing any abnormality and immediately treating them when they appear.
How does an udder work?
Since the udder is made of mammary glands that secrete milk, their size varies according to the goat’s age, breed and production genetic selection. Goats that are soon to be lactating for the first time have significantly smaller udders than older goats, in their third or fourth lactation season. Also, milk goats will have much larger udders than meat goats.
A goat udder has two teats (also referred to as nipples) that come in many different shapes and sizes. A responsible farmer is to watch out for deformed or supernumeraries teats (meaning more than two teats on a goat) and consequently exclude those goats from reproduction since many of these abnormalities are genetically inherited.
The wellness and correct structure of the udder is key in both milk and meat goats. A good, healthy udder will ensure a longer life expectancy of the animal, good production and reproduction levels, and an overall high rate of gain for the farm. Any problem of the udder that is noticeable calls for immediate veterinary check-out and treatment.
Udder care and hygiene
Whether the goat milking process is done manually or using a special milking machine, special attention should be given to udder hygiene and care. Before milking, the udder is to be thoroughly washed with clean, warm water. This process prevents any stall impurities from getting in the milk container, thus compromising the whole production of the day.
Milking should take place twice a day, every twelve hours, to ensure the best production potential is reached. Milking the goats twice a day also ensures that no milk will stay in the udder for too long, which may pose the threat of mastitis or other types of bacterial infections. A milking session should last as long as it takes for the udder to get empty.
After the milking session is over, it is important for the udder to be rinsed with clean, warm water. Again, well dried, and hydrating soothing products should be applied on the teats. This helps calm chopped, irritated teats and prevents further pain and possible bacterial infections. Proper udder care and hygiene are some of the most important activities on a milk goat farm.
Different goat breeds
Goats have been around for a really long time and throughout time, their physical features, production rates, and feeding requirements have also changed according to their indigenous areas. Since these cute, friendly animals are bred all around the world, over time, they have been genetically selected and reproduced for distinct purposes.
For this reason, we now have a wide variety of goat breeds, from pygmy goats (that are mainly kept as pets) to milk producing breeds (like Saanen, Nubian, and Alpine) and meat producing breeds (like Boer, Kalahari, and Rangeland). Each of these breeds differs in size, housing, and feeding requirements and production rates.
It is advisable to better research which goat breed best suits your intended purpose before starting a goat farm, be it a small or large sized one. Making sure you know the breed’s housing and feeding requirements and being able to provide them will ensure a good start to this kind of ambitious project.
Another aspect to be taken into consideration is that different goat breeds come with different coat lengths, according to the usual temperature in their origin area. Some extra grooming care might be in order, especially since goats are sensitive to their surrounding environments and temperature. This is a factor that will further have an impact on their production rates.
Goat milk benefits
Goat milk benefits have become better known and understood in the past decades after scientists have dedicated time to researching and trying to accurately describe goat milk composition. Their findings benefit everyone and include a wide range of ways goats’ milk can be better for human consumption than cow milk.
Besides its delicious taste, the lower lactose level makes it suitable for lactose intolerant people, that will digest it better than regular cow’s milk. Goat milk also has a high level of magnesium, an important mineral for maintaining a healthy heart. Containing medium – chain fatty acids, therefore lower cholesterol, goat milk is great for the elderly, too.
It has been proven that goat milk has an anti-inflammatory effect due to the immune response it triggers because of the high content of oligosaccharides. It especially works on intestinal inflammation disease. It is also ideal for small children due to its high calcium level, combined with the low lactose level.
And last but not least, who doesn’t love a bit of very tasty goat cheese in their salad or sandwich? The specific content of probiotics, minerals, vitamins and lactose level in goat’s milk, makes it great for cheese making. A wide variety of types of cheese can be made out of it, from regular goat cheese to French delicacies and special cheese.