Drying Off a Dairy Doe

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mary Humphrey, of Annie’s Goat Hill Soaps, shares the pros and cons of drying off dairy goats at the end of their season. As for Mary, she’s a cold turkey girl: Stop milking.

“A doe will continue to produce some milk as long as you milk her out,” Mary said. “The method of gradually cutting back on the milking schedule to dry a doe off never works for me.”

(Ed. Note: While does vary, and some never have a problem with rapid drying off, in order to avoid mastitis drying off gradually is the standard practice. Drop to once a day for a couple days and then once every other day until lactation becomes minimal or ceases. -NJ)


4 Responses to “Drying Off a Dairy Doe”

  1. tracy martin

    Hi, I have a goat who’s producing milk because of plant estrogens in the browse and nobody including vets seems to be able to help me figure out how to dry her up. She’s 16 years old and I’m sure is not happy and is uncomfortable having an enormous bag of milk between her legs so late in life. All my males are castrated and she last nursed her babies about 10 years ago…this all seems crazy to me. I don’t have a situation where I can milk her because I never planned anything other than companionship from my goats, so I never milked them other than recently in the last couple of years – this has happened to a few of my girls and I thought I needed to milk to relieve pressure, but of course…that just increases milk production. I was told about a supplement for drying up cows – Dry Cow…is there something for goats, can I use Dry Cow?

    Would appreciate any advise, please!

    Thank you,

    Tracy Martin

  2. NJ

    I’ve never heard of plant estrogen inducing lactation, and neither has someone I conferred with who is an expert in Australia, so you certainly have a strange situation on your hands. We are unaware of a product that will dry off a doe. The normal practice is to milk her in decreasing frequency until she dries off. If you don’t want to milk, she may eventually dry off on her own but she stands a high risk of suffering mastitis.

    My concern would be: if plant estrogen is causing lactation, how will you prevent it recurring in the future? It’s not uncommon for older does to spontaneously begin to lactate so it may that plant estrogen isn’t the issue at all, but rather she’s one of those does who just starts making milk again for no apparent reason. If that’s the case, you won’t have to worry about her starting to lactate again after she’s been dried off. If it is plant estrogen, it sounds like you’ll have an ongoing problem and a terribly uncomfortable doe.

  3. Carol Lewis

    During the drying off process, is it safe to drink the milk that has “sat around” in the udder for a day or two? Thanks!

    • NJ

      Sure. Milk inside a goat isn’t going to go bad, just watch for mastitis. It isn’t real common when drying a doe off, but it does happen.


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All Things Goat was created by Naimhe Jeanne (Nee-Vah Jeen,) of Illinois, and Martha Ann, of Vermont, who believe in the humane treatment of goats whether they are pets or raised for milk, meat or fiber. Through news, profiles, recipes and editorials, All Things Goat illustrates how our caprine friends improve the quality of life for many worldwide. Our All Things Goat intern is Lela Perez, of Killeen, Texas.

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