Maybe your milk goat is drinking from her udder, or perhaps you’re figuring out what to do with your extra milk.
Either way, you’re asking yourself if your adult goat can drink her own milk.
Your goat can drink its own milk, and this is just fine. There’s no harm to the goat itself. However, there are a few factors to consider when deciding if you want your goat to stop drinking her own milk or let her continue.
Read on to learn why goats drink their milk, reasons why letting your goats drink their milk is good and bad, and how to stop this behavior.
Reasons Goats Drink Their Own Milk
Extra Nutrition After Giving Birth
Goat milk is a highly nutritious, healthy food for kids, humans, and adult goats.
Giving birth requires a lot of energy, and so does producing milk.
A doe who has just given birth may crave her milk because her body requires extra nutrients, especially after a difficult birth.
Like human health, the numerous nutrients and minerals found in goat milk are necessary to prevent health issues and support many different bodily functions.
- High-quality milk protein and fat are essential nutrients for a healthy digestive system and overall function.
- Calcium supports muscle function and builds strong bones and teeth.
- Potassium, an essential mineral, regulates fluid balance in the body and promotes normal blood pressure.
- Phosphorous filters waste and repairs cells and tissues, which is necessary for good future health.
- Magnesium improves energy levels, increases muscle movement, and lowers blood pressure.
- Carbohydrates enhance digestive health, encourage beneficial bacteria in the gut, and are turned into energy.
- Vitamin A supports healthy vision, immune systems, and organs.
- Vitamin B5 also helps a healthy digestive system.
Excessive Milk Production
Having an overly full udder is uncomfortable, so your doe is making itself more comfortable.
Producing excessive amounts of milk may be due to not having kids to feed, not being milked enough, or simply having a high lactation volume.
It Tastes Good
You enjoy the taste of goat milk, and so does your doe.
It’s creamier and tastier than the water she’s used to drinking and the dry food she eats every day.
If you purposely gave your doe a taste of her milk, she associates it as a treat and probably wants more.
Should I Let My Goat Drink Her Own Milk?
Whether or not you decide to let your goat drink her own milk depends on several factors.
First, it depends on if she’s self-nursing or if you’re feeding it to her in a bucket.
It’s harder to control how much of her milk she drinks if she’s self-nursing.
If you’re purposely letting her drink milk from the milking bucket or giving her a bowl of milk, it’s easy to monitor how much she drinks and stop her if you don’t want her to drink it anymore.
Another factor is if she’s a pet or a farm animal.
Drinking her own milk cuts into profits or your supply of milk.
Dairies need to produce a lot of milk to turn into dairy products, and if she is drinking a substantial amount of her own milk, it might be a problem.
If she’s mainly a pet you milk for yourself, it’s only a problem if there isn’t enough milk for her, her kids, and you.
The first milk a doe produces is colostrum.
Antibodies in colostrum can boost a newborn kid’s immunity against disease, and colostrum contains critical nutrients for a good start to life.
In this case, use colostrum replacement for the kid while you work on stopping the behavior.
One of the benefits of your goat drinking her own milk may also be a con.
Because of the fat and nutrient content of goat milk, it helps your goat put on weight if she’s drinking it in addition to a regular diet.
Nursing goats can struggle to maintain weight since so much of their energy goes toward producing enough milk.
However, an overweight goat does not need encouragement to gain weight.
Because the nutrients found in goat milk support many bodily functions, it can help a sick doe boost her immune system.
Think of it like chicken noodle soup for goats.
If your goat is sick or had a difficult birth, it might be best to feed her milk.
Arguably the biggest issue is goats can become addicted to the taste.
How to Get Your Goat to Stop Drinking Its Own Milk
If you’ve decided your milk-loving goat needs to stop drinking her own milk, there are a few tips for breaking her addiction.
If She’s Drinking from the Bucket of Milk
It’s much easier to stop your goat from drinking her own milk if she’s been drinking from the bucket. If you were purposely giving her milk, stop.
If she’s been sneaking sips, remove the bucket of milk immediately after milking.
Don’t let it sit anywhere she can access.
Another option is to mix the milk with water and slowly wean her off it.
It’ll become less tasty to her over time, which will help with her addiction to it.
If She’s Self-Nursing
The two types of methods to stop self-nursing are physically preventative and mentally preventative.
To create a physical obstacle, use medical tape or duct tape on her teats after milking, making sure it is secure but not too tight.
A cone or Elizabethan collar, like the ones used for animals after surgeries, will prevent her from being able to reach her own teats.
Many goat farmers and dairies use the collar method to prevent self-nursing.
If this doesn’t work, put udder salve on her teats.
The taste and smell will make her teats a less appealing snack, and there’s no harm done.
A combination of tactics might work best, but using tape and udder salve together could get sticky.
Most of all, be patient. If your goat has developed the habit of self-nursing, it takes time and dedication to break.