I was milking tonight and got this grand idea to write about teats. Not udders so much, but specifically teats on the dairy goat. People have many reason’s for getting a goat, but any time a goat will have kids or you are milking this could matter.
Now, teats come in all shapes and sizes. Some are small, some are fat, others long and slender. Most of us with the smaller breeds of goats long for longer teats, but did you know they can be so long as to be cumbersome? Is length everything when looking at a goats teat?
I want you to imagine a quart of milk that you want to drink. You are going to have to drink it through a straw. The first straw is a regular drinking straw like you might find at a restraunt. The milk goes easily through it to your mouth with minimal effort on your part.
Now, imagine that same quart of milk. You have a straw to use, but this straw is the size of a needle used to give shots. It’s small, and it takes a lot of work to get that milk into you from the jar. Teats, no matter the size, are like this comparison. There is an opening at the end of the teat called the orifice. It varies in size from goat to goat, and is a major factor in how easily a kid or milker can extract milk from a particular goat. If the orifice is too small, it is hard to get milk out, leading to mastitis or uneven udders with kids on the doe, or very tired hands and an uncomfortable doe on the milkstand. Even if the teat is easy to grip, a small orifice will make milking unpleasant.
On the other hand, a small teat with a large orifice is easy to milk. Kids will happily nurse both sides of the doe, and milking is relatively easy, despite the small teat. Of course, the ideal would be a teat of adequate length to grasp with an orifice that allows milk to flow freely, but many first time goat owners may have trouble finding the perfect udder. That is why I am writing this. I want those beginning to understand that it is important to find out if the doe milks easily no matter the size of her teat or position and attachment of the udder. This is vital for the backyard milker or you will be quickly discouraged.
As an example, take this doe of mine. She has long teats that look like carrots, a soft udder, and her teats fit nicely in my hands, though almost too long. Her milk streams quickly through the orifice, and it takes less than 2 minutes to get a quart of milk from her.
Now, her mother has great capacity, though her udder is not as soft. Her teats are similatr in length, but the teat on the right side of the goat has a very small orifice. I can pull 3 streams of milk from the left side for every thin stream on the right. This goat has to be milked from the day she kids or she get’s mastitis in the right side of her udder. She also requires at least 5-10 minutes of hard work to milk out, almost all of that on her right side. She is a great goat, but as a milker she frustrates most of those who try to milk her, and often kicks the kids away when they try to nurse her “poor” side.
When looking at a doe as a potential brood doe or milk doe, it is important to consider the size of her orifice in addition to the rest of the udder. Consider buying your first doe in milk and milking her before buying at the farm. This will allow you to get a good idea of how much work you are going to have to put in with milking and management of kids. I hope this helps someone out there, as I didn’t really understand all this when I started out.