Drying off our Does

One of the questions that is frequently asked is: “How do you dry off a doe?”  BTW, “drying off/dry off” means get them to quit milking, normally this is done in preparation of kidding.  This is what I did this year (2010 – drying off the 2009 milk production season):

I milk my girls till they are 2 months away from kidding again, than I dry them off. I milk twice a day every day – as I’m the only person in our household that milks our goats. One week before Christmas, my does go to a once a day milking. At this point, they have been in milk for around 7-9 months – I like to kid out my does in March, April and the beginning part of May each year. This gives us milk year round, or gives me a small break (this year I have a month break, my first one since milking everyday from May 2007 – it is NICE, so I may continue it each year.) Anyway, around Christmas, they are normally at the point that they can hold all the milk they are giving me in their udder without being WAY TOO TIGHT on a once a day milking. They ARE very full, and walk like cowboys – like when they first freshen and they are super full in the morning (when I pull the kids at night after they reach 2-4 weeks of age.)

When they get within 2 1/2 months to their due date, I begin cutting the amount of grain I give them. They get half a can LESS each week, so that by the time they reach their “2 months till due” date, they are getting the 1 can (i.e. 1#) per day. The day I stop milking, I stop giving them the 1# of Chaffhaye. Their maintenance ration is their free choice hay, Vitalerbs and Thorvin Kelp.

I STOP milking when they give me 1# or less of milk each DAY. (Sometimes you get past the “2 months till due” date.) 1# is approximately 1 pint (2 cups) of milk per DAY. This is easily reabsorbed by their body, so I stop milking cold turkey at that point. I watch their udder, but didn’t need to relieve any of them of a tight udder. When you quit milking, their body seals off the orifice with a plug. If you milk them after the dry off day (i.e. go to an every other day milking, etc.) they have to make that plug again. HOWEVER, I didn’t have to bother with that at all this year and feel this is a very healthy way to dry them off.

UPDATE (12/28/2010) This went very well last year. I was very pleased with the outcome and plan to do the same thing this season. 🙂

Herbs that may help: Sage (must be made as a cold infusion), peppermint, parsley.  Please visit Land of Havilah Herbals online store for help if you need to purchase.

I can hear your brain gears working, are you wondering, “What in the world is a Cold Infusion??”  It is an Infusion (aka tea) that is made using room temperature steam distilled water.  Here are instructions:

How to Prepare a Cold Infusion

2 tsp of Sage leaf (Salvia officinalis)
8 oz of steam distilled water (room temperature)

Place the herbs into a canning jar or other jar with a lid

Pour room temperature steam distilled water into the jar and mix well.

Allow to steep for 12 hours.

Strain out the herbs using a thin natural fiber cloth.  I use Flour Sack Towels that I purchase on Amazon.

Drench your girl or let her drink the tea.  I would start with 30-50cc, depending on what your drench syringe holds.  I would assume that 2-3x/day would be sufficient.  You can make enough tea to last you a couple days.