Grit Blogs > Milk Maid Ranch

The Economical Dairy Goat

Milk MaidWe all know how it's getting harder to make our incomes go further. We see things in the stores going up. I was in a store the other day picking up some lemonade.  A week ago I paid only $1.00 for it, now, $1.58. Ok, not that this will cause me to declare bankruptcy but that is a 58% price increase. The problem is most everything has gone up and our income is not climbing with it.

For those of us who love to play in the dirt or spend more time in the barn or in the pastures to produce food to help out with rising costs, I'm sure anyone having livestock knows what the price of grain and hay has done. Not 3 years ago I was paying $5 for a 65lb bale of grass hay. That same bale is now $11.25. I see heads nodding in agreement and some mouths are dropping.

To help save some money on the feed bill for my herd of Alpine dairy goats, 9 years ago after a few “oops” were born in the herd from the Nigerian Dwarf buck breeding a few of the doelings, I fell in love with the Mini-Alpine. The dam of this breed is a standard size Alpine and the sire is a Nigerian Dwarf, which is the shortest of the dairy breeds. This “oops” produced 2 sets of twins which I was very impressed with to the point that I decided to breed all my doe's that would be first fresheners(1st time to have babies) to my Nigerian Dwarf bucks. Then, as I figured my older girls would have an easier time of delivery if bred to the Nigerian boys, my Miniature Alpine herd was born. 

Nancy and Country Queen
3rd generation Mini-Alpine kid with her dam. 

Goats are amazing animals as they can be having kids a year after they are born. Mini's are no different so the wait to see what their udders would do wasn't so bad. I was impressed one more time when they were providing just about the same amount of milk as my standard size doe's were giving. What I've found out is the mini's will eat about 1/3 less the amount of grain but convert it to milk better. We've never had a mini doe produce under 3/4 of a gallon of milk a day. As I write this I have one that is giving a gallon per day and she has been in milk for 6 months now. They are a very economical animal to have on the homestead. Along with getting the milk, we can also make cheeses, yogurt, ice cream and even soap from milk. Oh, I better not forget butter and cooking with goat milk adds a touch more moisture to baked goods also. Old fashioned cooked puddings are smoother with goat milk. Before I gain a few more pounds just thinking of it, I better move on.

Aruba left
MMR P Aruba – 1st generation Sr. Doe  

The Mini-Alpine's are not the only mini breed that is being developed from standard size dairy goats. If you love the long ears and roman nose of the Nubian, the lack of ears or elf ears of the La Mancha, the coloring of the Toggenburg, the flashy look of the Oberhasli or the solid white of the Saanen, I have wonderful news, they all come in the mini size. To give an idea to their height, an Alpine's withers (where their neck and back join) come to the very top of my leg. I'm 5'4". The Nigerian Dwarf comes to my knee while the mini breeds are right between the 2 at the middle of my leg. They are also easier to handle and an adult doe will weigh around 65 - 75lbs give or take. 4-H kids love them as the 2 legged kids aren't pulled around. You can see the advantage of the Mini-Alpine isn’t only for the checkbook.