Saanen Goats

I wrote a while back about trying to buy a Saanen goat from a local dairy and the owner’s refusal to sell me a goat because we did not have a barn.  I was extremely upset by this, but moved on and while I was given the opportunity to buy a Saanen goat from different lines two different times since then, passed on it.  I had convinced myself I didn’t really want another white goat and that I really didn’t like white goats or the Saanen udders (which are quite soft and spongy).

How things change sometimes …

On Thursday Wally called me from the sale to tell me there was a good looking young Saanen doe with a kid at her side at the sale.  He said the kid couldn’t be more than a few days old.  I told Wally that if he felt like there was nothing wrong with her and if she went for less than $60 to go ahead and buy her.  We had talked before he went to the sale about possibly picking up a kid about Rain’s baby’s size so she’d have a playmate.  Wally called me later and said that the Saanen doe and her kid went for $55 and he was bringing them home.

When Wally got home, I went out to help him unload the doe.  We decided to put her in one of the dog runs overnight and look her over closely the next morning.  She lead off the truck nice as could be.  She didn’t have much of an udder, but she allowed me to handle it without fussing.  To be able to handle a doe’s udder without having her on a stand with grain in front of her without her kicking or bouncing around is quite unusual.

The next morning we looked at her closely and could find nothing wrong with her.  If they are registered, most breeds of goats are tattooed in their ears (because they have no ears, the LaManchas are tattooed on their tail).  We looked at her ears and sure enough, she was tattooed.  The letters and numbers in the right ear indicate the breeder (or dairy) and the numbers and letters in the left ear pertain to the individual goat.  The right ear appeared to read either “E” or “C” “LP” and the left ear appeared to read “Y19.”  The “Y” indicated that she was registered in 2008 so as Wally thought, she was just a yearling and this was her first freshening.  Wally asked me to remind him what the woman’s last name was that owned the dairy where I originally tried to buy a Saanen doe.  Damn!  Her initials were “LP”!  I called a friend of mine to see if she knew what the herd tattoo was for this dairy.  She had a buck from her once and went through her paperwork.  The herd tattoo is “2LP.”  We looked closer at the doe’s right ear and sure enough, the tattoo was “2LP.”

I called the woman who owned the dairy and told her that I believed one of her does ended up at the sale barn.  She had a fit!!!!!  She asked what happened to the doe.  I told her that Wally brought her home.  She was extremely happy to hear that.  Ha!  Even though we didn’t have a barn, at least the doe was in a better place than where she might have been.  She looked up her records and told me that the doe was named Raspberry and was out of one of her best milkers named Rosie sired by a very nice buck named June Bug.  She gave the doeling to a man in exchange for some hay work that he did last year.  The buck who sired Raspberry’s kid (who is a buck) was also from her dairy.

She was livid that the man brought the doe to the sale and I’m sure he won’t get another goat from her down the road.  I don’t know why she ended up there except maybe because she didn’t have much of an udder.  At this point in time, as long as she had enough milk to feed her baby, I wasn’t worried about her udder.  There is nothing wrong with Raspberry’s appetite.  She’s fit in with the rest of the does like she was born here.  I have had her on the milk stand every day since she’s been here and she acts like she’s been milking her whole life.  Given her age and the age of her baby, I doubt she’s ever been milked, but you wouldn’t know it for how she’s acting.  No kicking or carrying on.  She gets on the stand and eats, as any good dairy goat would.

The cool thing is that her milk production has more than doubled since she’s been here.  The first time I milked her, I doubt I got a half a cup from her.  Now she’s giving close to a quart.

What the heck am I doing milking six goats?  Who knows, but it’s funny how things happen.  I so wanted a goat from that dairy and if I had been able to get one, I would have had to pay $200 to $300 for a goat in milk (without a kid on her).  By chance, I got a well-bred yearling goat with a kid on her for $55.  The two Alpines continue to do well.  You may recall that I got them quite by chance as well and for a bargain price.  Billy, the younger Alpine is now milking more than Addie.  That isn’t going to last long.  Addie is still being a bit fussy about eating.  She’s an older goat and needs more time to adapt to her new surroundings.  Being younger, Billy is more resiliant to change.  Champagne’s milk production went off when she first came here, but she’s now milking close to a gallon a day.  Rain is pouring the milk.  We haven’t taken her baby off her at night and if she continues to milk like she is now, I won’t pull her off.  Lil, the other Nubian, is still a little off in her production, but I’m not worried about it.  As part of the covered hitching area we made wooden feed boxes which are attached where each doe is tied out.  I am able to feed them while they wait and that way they call can get a good amount of feed without having to fight for it.  That way, I can feed each individual doe as she needs to be fed.  I wouldn’t have been able to feed Luna or Penny prior to putting them on the stand.  If they were not hungry when they got up there, they’d give me trouble milking them.  All of these does would stand for milking even if they didn’t have feed in front of them.

Now I have six, well-tempered, easy-to-milk goats and I’m pleased as punch about that.  Next year will be a lot easier because we’ll leave their kids on them during the day and only milk in the morning which will be nice.  I don’t like milking at night.  It’s like sitting in a sauna.  My milking parlor, while still primitive compared to some, has become very, very functional and nice to look at.

I think these dairy goats have an important role to play in my life.  I was scheduled to pick up my first dairy goat, Rain, the day I was laid off.  I almost didn’t go and get her, but I’m glad I did.  I had been wanting a dairy goat for a long time.  Milking is keeping my hands supple and almost painfree.  I’m making good use of the milk.  We’ll see how things go.  The dairy goats are really more functional than the sheep.  Not only do they provide us with milk, but we can butcher their kids for meat for us and the dogs and cats.  I hope we like the goat kid meat as much as we do the lamb.  We’ll be taking Penny’s baby, Casper and the Alpine bottle baby, Basil to the processer the middle to end of August.

Said goats are all lined up at the front gate ready to be milked.  Until later …