Yesterday we picked up the newest memeber of our family - Rosie (our daughter named her). We bought her to replace Gypsy who left us suddenly last week. Like Gypsy, Rosie is a British Alpine dairy goat, about 9 months old. She is from good milking lines, but a more stocky version of the British Alpine. Dorka our other goat (Gypsy's mum) is a British Alpine (or probably a cross with Toggenburg).
Rosie has settled in ok. She is more vocal than Dorka, and despite not actually letting us near her, she bleats and follows us along the fence when we leave! She seems to have bonded well with the alpacas, less keen on Dorka (as she has given her the butting treatment). Like Gypsy, Rosie has small horns, and will remain horned, as from all available information, dehorning at this age is cruel and painful. We plan on glueing rubber balls to the ends of her horns once they grow to reduce the likelyhood of her hurting the others. Most dairy farmers remove the horns for safety reasons, but when you see so many goats with very badly removed horns you have to wonder if its really worth it. The standard method is to burn off the horn bud when the goat kid is only a day or 2 old, but if its not done properly part of the horn will re-grow and this will either be mishapen and potentially grow inwards, or be weak and be knocked off and become infected. Many people don't realise that the horn actually has blood vessels running up the length of it, and its only the outer shell that is 'horn', to cut this off is probably equivalent to cutting off one's finger!!!
Our plan is to have eventually 3-4 milkers, and alternating which does have kids each year, so they all have a rest. British Alpines are well known for their extended lactation, producing milk for several years after the birth of their kid/s, so we will probably stick with them. We might even look at getting a buck at some stage down the track.
I will leave you with some photos of Dorka and the milking process. We are so lucky to have ample supply of healthy raw, un-tampered milk. Very special.