At the beginning of July we added two new members to our farm. Missy and Mary are Alpine goat kids (7 months and 5 months old). I have been wanting goats for quite awhile and have been doing quite a bit of research on the best kinds of milking goats, what would be right for us, how to care for goats, etc… I landed on Alpines for a number of reasons, the first and best is that our neighbors have Alpines and so we were able to try their milk ahead of time and my kids love the taste. We also liked how friendly the girls were and the amount of milk they are able to produce (about 1-2 gallons a day!) There are several other breeds out there that are great for smaller farms and it just depends on what you are looking for in terms of taste and amount. Nubians were on our list as well but we bonded with our two alpines better so that also played a part in our decision. I might like to add a Nigerian Dwarf at some point because although they don’t produce a ton of milk, their milk is very sweet and creamy with a butterfat of 6%-10%. Which would be great for cream!
The other decision we had to make was whether or not to start with kids (baby goats) or already milking does. I was on the fence with this one and really didn’t want to wait to start milking. With kids it is a year before they can breed and then another 5 months before they are producing milk so a total of 17 months before you have milk. Again this decision was made for us when we found our goats. We found an amazing woman named Cassie who runs Sky’s Edge Dairy Goats. She was so great in helping me make a decision on what would be best for our small farm. She had kids (young goats) available and a doe who was already milking but as she pointed out, a milking doe needs a lot more to get started than the kids. So we decided to start with Missy and Mary. We had a pen in the barn already to go and a great fenced in pasture for them to go during the day. We grabbed a feeder and water bucket and we were set. So far this set-up has been great. Summer ended up being way busier than I had thought and not having to milk everyday has been great. We are getting to know our goats and easing into the whole process. I am still anxious to get milk but getting to raise these two sweet girls is awesome and probably the best way to start. As Cassie put it, you can start by dipping your toes in the water a little at a time or you can jump in with both feet. The toes in the water approach is working out just fine for us!