How To Dry Off A Goat After Lactation

How To Dry Off a Goat After Lactation
After you breed your goat, you will need to dry her off 6-8 weeks before she has her babies.  This gives her a chance to rest and regain nutritional stores.  Plus, this gives you a break from milking, and can be an excellent time to plan a vacation.  (Just saying.  Finding relief milkers can be difficult in the city.)  The first time I had to dry off a goat I wasn’t sure how to do it.  With a bit of research I soon realized that drying off a lactating goat is one of the less complicated things about goat keeping.  Thank goodness!

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Why Dry Off?

It takes a lot of energy to produce milk and giving your does a chance to rest during the end of the pregnancy will help her have a better lactation period the next time.  It’s good to plan to dry off the goat 6-8 weeks before her due date to give her enough time to focus on building the babies without putting too much stress on her body.  You want to keep your goats healthy, thriving, and in good condition.

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How To Dry Off A Goat

There are several ways to dry off a goat.  One way is cold turkey.  This method is recommended by Oregon State University.  Just stop milking them and their milk production will quickly decline.  Before an abrupt dry off you should decrease their grain about two weeks before the chosen day.  If you choose this method, watch for signs of mastitis such as heat, pain, redness, or swelling of the udder, or fever, depression or poor appetite in your goat.  If you suspect your goat might have mastitis, you can easily test for it using a mastitis test.

I personally chose to dry off the way described by Fiasco Farms.  This takes longer, but it seemed to be less uncomfortable.  First cut back on grain and go from milking twice a day to once a day.  After two weeks decrease from once a day milking to every other day milking also for about two weeks.  The first time I did this, my goat wasn’t producing much milk.   This was all I did before abruptly stopping, but you can go from every other day to every three days for about one more week if needed.

So many things about keeping goats can be complicated, but thankfully this is NOT one of them!

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37 thoughts on “How To Dry Off A Goat After Lactation”

  1. I have a doe I got her when she was a year and a half old she is now over 10. As far as I know she has never been bred. She started producing milk. . She’s a pet, she doesn’t get much grain she is loose around my property and browses for grass etc. Her udder is huge and I have to milk her to take the weight off of her udder. I feel so sorry for her she must be in pain. I would like to know how to dry her up. The vet just told me to leave her she’ll dry up herself but this has been going on for a few years now. Is there anything I can give her?

  2. I have been milking my Saanen “Teal” who aborted a kid (her first) about 4 months ago. I am new to this. She is not breed back and she is a heavy producer. I get 3/4 of a gallon a day from her. I was wanting to let her dry up until i decided to breed her back. Her sister “Milky” had a healthy male and i am letting nature do its thing with her. ( I don’t milk her).
    So my questions are
    1. Can I stop milking Teal cold turkey with out her being breed?
    2. Will Milky dry up natural as her kid stops feeding from her?
    Thank you for any help!
    Amanda

    • Yes, you can stop milking cold turkey at any time even without rebreeding. Just keep an eye out for mastitis symptoms for a bit while she dries off. The goat with the kids on her will either slowly dry off, or she will wean the kids by kicking them away when they get too big to nurse.

    • Hello! My goat is almost 5 months pregnant and she is going to deliver her babies very soon. But she hasn’t dryed up the milk. She is still producing milk but in a little amount, like her udder is full after 3-4 days. Is it okay cause i have not seen something like this with my goats before?
      Pls do reply soon.
      Thank you

      • Is it colostrum coming in for the new babies? If you test for mastitis and she is negative I would just let it be.

  3. My friend bought 2 Nigerian dwarf at auction; a doe and an unrelated kid, from 2 different farms. The kid died about 3 weeks ago and my friend asked me to look at the doe today, as she’s all alone. The die has milk! I milked her out on the ground but I was surprised by the milk. No one ever saw the kid suckle, either, but I’m guessing it did. Any thoughts?

    • Depending on how much milk she is producing, it might be best to dry her off and re-breed her. You can try milking her and see what you get! (Definitely find her a goat friend soon though).

  4. My goat had a false pregnancy, her udders grew a bit, and were producing milk, we left it alone, and one udder dried up, the other still has milk but what I’m concerned of is the udder that dried up, because it’s kinda hard, it’s not hot, or red, and she’s not showing any signs of mastitis, but that udder is a little hard… is that due to her producing milk and then drying? Her other udder isn’t hard at all but it’s still producing some milk… this is my first time owning goats, and I’m worried

    • My understanding that it shouldn’t be hard, although it should become smaller after she dries up. If you have a goat mentor in the area that could look at her, it might be a good idea!

  5. I am new to goat raising but bought a nanny Nubian /togenburg 2years old after her first kidding also a buck 2 yrs oberhasli / boerkko the first part of Aug the lady sad the doe may be pregnant and would be due mid December so I am trying to dry her up with no luck am down to one milking a day (a little over a quart a day) that is half of what she did when I got her grain down to two cups a day plus a leaf of 2 nd cutting grass hay with alfalfa what next ??? Help

      • Kathryn I went two days without milking her and utter so hard and full tits so tight and full sticking straight out to each side couldn’t get hand to fit on to milk for longest finally took 30 min each one and almost two quarts milk should I wait two days again or not?? Thanks

        • Keep going with every two days, but don’t empty out her udder, or that will only trigger to keep making more milk. Instead milk just enough to take the pressure off so she is more comfortable until the milk reabsorbs.

  6. Hi, we have a Saanen goat and she is 5. She has never been bred but she keeps producing milk and my daughter has been milking her in the past and i do remember the goat drying off but this time she keeps producing. i have been milking for months on end and we were emptying her but now for ages we’ve been concentrating on 300 mls each side but she has so much more in her. Tonight I had to take more, her udder was so full even though we haven’t missed any days and I think she had mastitis issues as there was two lumps and she wasn’t as behaved as normal. Please give me strict instructions on drying her up, amounts to take and time frame; do i empty her again and start again, we’ve been Milking for months and months. Thanks in advance, Fiona

    • 300mls is almost nothing for a Saanen. They can produce 1.5-3 gallons per day! I would stop milking her completely. The milk will reabsorb. If you are worried she might have mastitis milk out just enough to do the mastitis test. But she’ll most likely be fine.

  7. Your comments have been helpful. I have 10 year old saanen goat who had twins 6 years ago. Never milked her and this week udders full and she wasnt happy ears down and sitting. Got her on antibiotics but wondered how she would dry up. Saw you mentioned sage so will try her on this. Thanks

  8. I have a French Alpine, just over a year old, who is DEFINITELY a virgin….she has never even seen a male goat; I got her as a baby. Suddenly, she spontaneously has milk! When I first noticed it, I thought that if I just ignored it, with no one milking or nursing from her, it would dry up. Her bag/udder is HUGE with milk! Since I’m not milking, nor is she nursing, there’s no “cutting back or cutting out entirely” option. I’m going to try the sage….and take away her grain (which will totally piss her and the mini donks off), but it’s for the good of the group. Any other suggestions?

    • That happens sometimes with goats with great dairy bloodlines. I would say breed her, she’s probably a great milker!

      Test for mastitis just to rule it out, and try not to handle her udder if possible, as that can trigger her to keep producing even if you’re not milking her.

    • A handful fresh or dried should be plenty. If you can grow it yourself, it’s pretty rigorous. You can also buy it from Mountain Rose Herbs.

    • Unfortunately Russian sage is not a true sage so it doesn’t have the same properties. It is good for attracting butterflies and reducing fevers though.

      • Please give me an idea of how much sage and how to administer it! My 8 year old Saanen is still a doe. She has never kidded. She milks every year and has since she was 8 months old! We get ridiculous amounts of milk from her. We don’t grain her. She forages on the farm. (We only grain in the winter.) If we miss a milking, she becomes so full and tight that she waddles. She is a pet. I would like to dry her out without making her miserable. Thank you.

        • If you have fresh or dry sage, just offer it to her like you would hay. Every time you milk her it signals her to make more. Try to only milk enough to help her be more comfortable, but don’t completely drain the udder.

  9. Hi Kathryn- your comments are so helpful! I have a Nigerian Dwarf goat who is 3 years old and never kidded. She is not pregnant as our male goat is castrated. She suddently grew a very large udder which turned hot and red and she was limping. We spoke to a friend who is a vet and he told us to milk her out completely and treat her with ToMorrow. She is much better in behavior and her udder is no longer red. However, she keeps filling up with milk and I want to dry her out. One side of her udder seems to have stopped producing because it doesnt really grow. The other side though gets very large so I have been milking her to relieve pressure, but I dont want to continue if not necessary. I am going to try sage, but is there anything i should watch out for. I am just worried because she had mastitis already and I know it can be chronic.
    Thank you for your Help

    • When you milk her out it’s stimulating more milk production. The ToMorrow should help treat the mastitis and once that’s cleared up try milking less often and checking to make sure the mastitis doesn’t return.

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