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The Nature Of The Beast

The reasons for lack of goat milk availability in the winter.


I'm sure many of you that are looking for a goat milk supplier this winter are getting frustrated when you contact farm after farm and are told it's not available and you can be put on the spring waiting list. The reason for this is goat physiology.


Unlike cows, goats are seasonal breeders. Most goats will only come into season 6 months out of the year. Here in the Northwest it is typically Sept-Feb. This makes it very hard for farmers to space breeding to the point that solid milk production can be achieved year round. Yes, they can be brought into season chemically in the off season, but this is not healthy for the goat, so we do not use this practice.


Gestation is roughly 5 months per goat. Goats can produce the first 3 months, but need to be dry, or out of milk for a minimum of two months before having babies for the lactation to freshen, which allows goats to feed their new babies, and produce the great tasting milk you love. This period cannot be shortened or there is no milk/colostrum for the babies and the goat will be out of production for another year. Some goats will dry up on their own in the fall/winter months, even before they are bred, which we also cannot control.


After kidding, goats usually have an overabundance of milk for the first few months of their lactation (this being the best time to start working with your farmer), but as the summer progresses, usually in July or so, milk production will start to gradually reduce (the does body is telling them that the babies should be weaned by now, and to slow down). This gradual drop off will continue until the goat stops producing altogether in the fall/winter months. Some goats will continue to produce small amounts during the winter, until the farmer dries them off for the two month freshening period. As it works here on our farm, when all nine goats we milk are in full production we get about 7 gallons a day of milk, right now we still have four goats producing and only getting about three quarts of milk a day. This is normal, and there isn't anything that we can do this time of year to increase production no matter how much we would like to. All producers are in the same boat.


This time of year we try to supply those clients that have been with the farm consistently for a period of months or years. We don't accept new clients, no matter how much you beg, as we feel that those that have consistently supported farm operations should receive first consideration. Not all of our regular clients are receiving milk right now. We just don't have it available. If you would like to be added to the waiting list for spring, please contact us via the website. After getting onto the service, it will be then up to you to remain on the service for winter availability. We do the best we can for everyone, but there is only so much we can control.


Hopefully this will help you to understand why it is hard to find goat milk during the winter months.





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