We’re pleased to have our friend and resident dairy goat expert, Steve Reid as a contributor to the AMD Blog.
Spring, summer or fall we need 240 gallons of milk a week for caramel production. As we near the end of breeding season, which began at the very end of September, we’re keenly aware of the milk production ‘hit’ we’ve taken during the past 5 weeks. It’s an annually recurring problem that — frankly — we haven’t developed an effective response to thus far, and it continues to throw a monkey wrench into our caramel ‘works’ each year.
Looking back at our DHIA ‘Hot Sheets’ for the past few months — we test in the last week of each month —, tells me that the herd (+-50 does) averaged 7.4 lbs./day at the end of July, 7.7 lbs/day at the end of August, 7.1 lbs/day at the end of September (days before the bucks went in) and then dropped precipitously to 5.5 lbs/day at the end of October. If you do the math, that puts us behind on caramel production by about 15 gallons of milk a week, not to mention distressing the milk drinkers at home.
In fairness, the month of October has been a particularly rainy one — climaxing with Hurricane Sandy —, which has been disruptive to our pasturing routine and may well have reduced the nutritional value of the forage consumed there. It’s also pretty obvious from the herd’s behavior — lots of fighting and general social dis-ease — that the presence of the bucks and the raging of doe hormones has them thoroughly stirred up and off balance.
This is a phenomenon that anyone planning to milk a seasonally bred herd of goats should take into account in their production forecasting….., and if anyone out there has found ways to mitigate the problem, we would certainly be happy to hear from them.