Since getting goats, getting a little experience in the milking realm, and doing even more research based on what I have learned so far, I have really been contemplating my long term goat plans and goals.  The way I see it, we have been truly blessed with the stock we purchased, considering how little we knew about dairy goats (almost all book learning).  

First, I found Lilac. 

I have since talked to her original breeder to find out her history.  Lilac was born in 2009.  The breeder is one of the top breeders for milk lines and show in CO, and he aquired his original Alpine stock from one of the top breeders in the nation (Mamm-Key).  Lilac’s breeder has two herds–Alpines and Nigerian Dwarfs.  One day, somehow, they discovered one of his better Alpine bucks had jumped the fence into a ND doe’s stall.  They figured nothing could have happened due to the size difference.  5 months later, Lilac was born.  He had no use for a cross bred, so he sold her to a neighbor who had her bred in fall of 2009.  She easily deliverd twins, with no assistance in 2010.  She was then sold to the lady where I found her, and she was sold to me strictly due to the size of her teats (too short for easy milking).  As a newbie, I figured, “why not?”

I fell in love with Lilac from the start.  She has a great temperament, good conformation, and milks beautifully–a perfect beginner goat.  Thanks to her top milk lines, she has a great udder, and produces on the upper end of her cross-breed.  And the milk is wonderfully delicious–much whiter, sweeter, and creamier than my Lamancha doe’s.  I initially thought I would like a whole herd of this cross, and upon researching, discovered there is a recognized breed for her cross–the mini-Alpine.  The cross is typically an Alpine doe with a ND buck, and the offspring is expected to have all the physical characteristics of an Alpine, with slightly decreased size and milk production, but increased butterfat.  An Alpine averages about 3.8 percent (depending on the source) butterfat, while a ND can vary from 6-10 % butterfat!  That explains the richness of her milk and why Dayjay thrived on it!  Maybe it explains our chunky baby, who gets a good 30% of her diet from the goats!  LOL!

Lilac’s only real downside is the size of her teats.  I assumed they would increase in length after her next freshening.  Upon researching, though, apparently, this is the one downside for all the mini-Alpines.  And they really don’t change a whole lot with future freshenings.  It is nearly impossible for S to milk her, with his big man-hands.

Then we got Sara.

At first, I thought I had a gold-mine in Sara, as she was from a production dairy, and her dam and grand-dam were great milk producers!  But, alas, it was not to be.  Read more about Sara’s plight here.  My first thought was to see her through this milk season, then cull and replace her.  I gained a bit of hope, though, when I realized how nice Sara’s teats and udder were overall, and how much more easily her milk flowed than Lilac’s.  It was interesting comparing the two.  Then, when I learned that her problems were more nutrient-related than genetic, I had more hope for her. 

Now that it is June, and I am looking ahead to breeding season, I really got thinking about where I want to go with these goats.  Obviously, we are in the learning phase.  I first fell in love with the Arapawa goat, an endangered heritage breed.

Because they are so rare, though, it is difficult to find breeders or info on them.  More importantly, they have not been domesticated long enough to really been bred for dairy.  They are known as a dual purpose goat, but production would likely be no more than 1/2 gallon a day at best right now–and that is only IF we were able to find a good one.  

So, I took a second look at Lilac.  She is a great cross, and I seriously considered a whole herd of them.  I also considered a cross between a Nubian and Pygmy, known as a “Kinder” goat.  Unfortunately,  Lilac’s teats have become a big downside for me.  My hand is a bit crampy when I am done with her, and S can’t milk her well at all. 

The Lamancha and Saneens are out completely.  I just don’t like the look of no ears, but love the “airplane ear” look.  I also can’t stand how my white, 1/2 Saneen doeling looks so filthy half the time.  I also love the many colors that the Alpine can come in, which rules out other breeds like Toggenburgs and Oberhaslis.  More important than looks though, is that the Lamanchas and Saneens, as well as most Toggs and Oberhaslis, have lower butterfat than Alpines.  I need those milk solids for my cheese and occasional butter!

So, the more I have contemplated and thought about it, the more I have placed my value on high production and good, long teats, with personal color and ear preference lower on the list.  That pretty much eliminates all mini’s and pygmy crosses.  All in all, I think I have narrowed my choice to the good ‘ole Alpine goat.  They’ve been around almost forever, are easy to find (especially around here), and they have all the traits I like about Sara and Lilac, wrapped into one package. 

Of course, I could still change my mind as time goes on.  That’s the advantage to easing into this lifestyle, and learning as we go.  I think, however, the plan for now is based on us being here another 2 summers (after this one), then moving to Red Gate for good (oh, how I look forward to those lush, green pastures!).  So, assuming Sara is doing well, and I can figure out this whole heat cycle thing, then I am planning to breed all 3 does this fall, hopefully staggering the breedings so we won’t have a dry spell next spring, and have no milk.  I am definitely (Lord willing) breeding Lilac to an Alpine from the original breeder where she was bred.  This breeder happens to work closely with another who specializes in Lamanchas and Saneens, so I am debating what to breed Sara and Lilly to still.  Next spring, I think the plan will be to kid all 3 goats, harvest any bucklings, then sell Sara while she is in milk, as well as most kids.  I would probably keep Lilac and Lilly for milk.  The hope would be that I could sell them for enough money to be able to buy some top-notch Alpine doelings from Lilac’s breeder.  If that works, then I would probably breed Lilac, Lilly, and whatever doelings we purchase the following fall, and sell all but the pure Alpines the following spring.  At that point, I may also invest in a purebred, top quality buckling.  Then, it would be time to plan our move to the farm.  The idea is to have at least 2-3 does in milk, and a young, unstinky, barely-breeding-age buck to start our herd with there. 

So that’s the plan.  For now.  I am a women, and we have the God-given right to change our minds on a whim.  I’ll look back on this post in a few years and see how much actually happened.  Just because I can.  In the mean time, I would love to know your thoughts on this.  Here are a few specific questions:

  • Should I even breed Sara, assuming her health has improved, or would that be considered irresponsible, just cull her, and forget it?
  • Sara is 3/4 Lamancha, while Lilly is 1/2 Lamancha and 1/2 Saneen.  Should I seek out a good Lamancha for Sara?  What should I breed Lilly to?  Will making them a higher % purebred increase the sale price any?
  • What am I forgetting to consider?  I’m sure there is plenty!