2017 Herd Experiment No. 1

Yearling Milkers vs. Dry Yearlings

Which is better, to hold does over dry so that they kid for the first time as two year olds or breed them as juniors to kid as yearlings.

Last Updated:
May 21, 2017

A Little History
     Nigerian Dwarf and LaMancha goats do not necessarily behave the same way when it comes to producing milk. What I mean is that Nigerians have a tendency to slow or drop production when they aren't getting the adequate feed to support it. They protect their own body condition first and milk production second. LaMancha goats are the opposite. If the feed they receive or conditions they are in while producing milk don't meet their requirements, they lose body condition while still producing their usual amount. This often means they would then have health problems since their body is trying to continue to produce what it no longer receives feed for.

     This is where my experiment comes in. I wasn't exactly sure where Mini-LaManchas fit in this scheme of things. Were they more like Nigerians, more like LaManchas or a true cross down the middle. Does percentage of the doe make a difference. All of the things you will read on this page are from my own experience.

     I raised Nigerian Dwarfs for over 7 years before choosing to get back in goats in 2013 and raise Mini-LaManchas only. I dabbled in Mini-LaManchas on the side before 2013 but never to the extent I really wanted to. Anyway, with our Nigerians I bred many to kid as yearling first fresheners and never had any trouble with doing this. Some were held over and bred at about a year old and then kidded in the fall at about a year and a half old. This option is extremely limited in Mini-LaManchas who from my experience tend to be seasonal like full size LaManchas.

     The reason I decided to conduct my own little herd experiment was due to the fact that my two yearling first fresheners in 2016 became so thin and dragged down nursing their kids. My first assumption was that they, being yearlings, may not have been able to keep up with the milk consumed by their dam raised kids. However another assumption I came to was that it could simply be that they were not eating enough feed to sustain good condition while dam raising their kids. The way we fed the goats in 2016 was all at the main trough. We had a few does who had been dried off already, having had only buck kids who were since sold as well as some dry does and of course the nursing dams. We put out the regular ration of feed each day twice a day and the dry does started getting rather fat so we never gave out extra feed. I ultimately pulled the kids off the 2016 yearling first fresheners and fed them separately until they were in good condition again.
The Experiment
     The experiment was to have half of our 2016 junior does bred to kid as yearling first fresheners in 2017 and half to remain unbred as dry yearlings. I could put the yearling first fresheners on the milk stand, ensure they get adequate feed while producing milk for us as well as record and monitor their production and stay on top of their condition. The dry yearlings would just remain in the herd and grow out to be bred in the next fall to freshen as first freshening two year olds.

     The reason for doing this was to see if the yearling first fresheners still lose a lot of condition while producing milk or if their separate feeding on the milk stand makes the difference. If they did well on the stand and kept good condition while in milk then my conclusion would be that the 2016 yearling first fresheners were indeed in the condition they were in due to the fact that they simply ate along with the herd and were not able to eat more to offset the drag of producing milk for their kids. Yearlings often get picked on by older does too so they may have been bullied from feed or prime hay spots on the hay rack. If the yearling milkers condition was to fall while being fed separate on the stand then my conclusion would be that their frame and size as yearlings couldn't keep up with the demand producing milk put on them. They would need to be kept dry as yearlings to kid the first time as two year olds.

In Conclusion
     The animals in this experiment are Anna and Lennon for the 2016 yearling first fresheners. For yearling milkers in 2017 we have Zin, Oracle and Ruby. Champagne was dried off early not due to any circumstances involved in this experiment. She's just not my favorite to milk and I'm milking by hand and my limit is four to hand milk and she made five. The dry yearlings in this experiment are Reba, Lucy, Maggie, Genny and Ellie.

     I have found that my dry yearlings are sassy and pushy to other herdmates which does irritate me greatly in that they are not being challenged with pregnancy or milking. However they are otherwise beautiful yearlings. The yearling milkers are doing exceptionally well on the milk stand and eating very well too. They are holding great condition.

     So in conclusion I have decided there is no reason to hold any does over dry as yearlings if they have reached my specified size to breed. I have also concluded that I simply do not like dry yearlings. They are pushy with the milking yearlings and think they rule the roost and that irks me. So I will not hold any does over as dry yearlings again unless their is a special circumstance such as a late kid who is too small to be bred.

     For 2018 I intend to breed all able bodied does. That includes any bred for 2017 as well as the 2017 dry yearlings Reba, Maggie, Lucy, Genny and Ellie and that includes the 2017 junior does Eureka, Emily, Cabernet and Mimosa. See you in 2018!

Thank you for reading. :)
~ Ashley

Easley, SC 29640


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