milking a goat

Goats are loved by farmers and backyard homesteaders the world over, and not just for their meat. Female dairy goats, or do, produce milk, which can become a nutritious part of your diet.

Goats have been used as a source of milk for generations, but does pregnancy facilitate their milk production? Many people may be surprised to know that the answer is no! Though some goats will produce more milk when pregnant, goats do produce milk regardless of their reproductive status.

Here’s what you need to know about goat milk production and why pregnancy isn’t necessary.

Goats Produce Milk Without Pregnancy

Unlike many other animals, goats do not require pregnancy to produce milk. Goats can produce milk all year round as long as they are healthy, well-fed, have given birth at least once, and have ample access to fresh water.

It means that a goat can be milked even when she is not pregnant and can be milked multiple times throughout the day. It contrasts with other animal milk, such as cow’s milk, which is only produced when a cow is lactating or close to a due date.

Furthermore, many people mistakenly believe that pregnant goats are the only ones that produce milk. It isn’t true. Goats start making milk around two months before they give birth.

A goat’s milk production peaks after birth with more minor diminishing milk volumes. White and brown Swiss Alpine goats can produce milk for up to 8 months, Nubian goats for up to 10 months, and Saanen goats for up to 12 months.

When do Goats Stop Producing Milk?

As a goat owner, you must study your doe’s cycle to know when to expect her to stop producing milk. You’ll need to become familiar with each process if you have multiple goats.

Some breeds, such as the Nubian, will continue to produce milk throughout the year without continuing with a consecutive pregnancy. However, white and brown Swiss Alpines and Saanen tend to dry up if not continually pregnant and to nurse their kids and may require human intervention to produce milk over more than one season.

Goats, like many animals, have a reproductive cycle triggered by hormones. In the case of goats, the hormone responsible for reproducing is called progesterone. This hormone is released when a goat is about to give birth. Progesterone is also responsible for initiating milk production in the udder.

Woman milking goat

Increasing Goat Milk Production

Dairy farmers have developed many techniques to maximize the milk their goats produce. These include:

  • Ensuring a good, high-quality diet that provides essential minerals and traces elements.
  • Providing consistent access to sunshine and fresh air.
  • Relaxing milking techniques – no need to be aggressive.
  • Introducing hormones if the doe has stopped giving milk or if the quantity has dropped significantly.
  • Using artificial insemination to breed new generations of goats with a higher milk production capacity.

Goats are potent animals with unique adaptations to survive in harsh climates. And when well taken care of, they provide nutritious, wholesome milk that can make all the difference to the health of your home. So, no, goats don’t need to be pregnant to produce milk – but you do need to know how to maximize their potential.

Milk Production After Birthing

Pregnancy does not encourage milk production, although some goats may react to the hormones and produce more. After a goat has given birth, however, it will make more milk.

Typically, this milk production increase will last a few weeks post-birth. After this period, milk production begins to slow down, and the goat starts to produce much less milk than it did before giving birth.

The most critical factors in milk production are moisture and nutrition. A goat needs a steady supply of fresh, clean water daily to produce milk. Furthermore, goats need a high-quality diet of minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients to maximize milk production. To get the most milk out of your goats, pay close attention to their diets and ensure they have plenty of moisture.

Kids sucking milk from goat

Breeding Doe & Dairy Doe: Uses

Regarding goats, the Dairy Doe and the Breeding Doe are two well-known categories. But what exactly sets these two categories apart? To understand the differences between these two goat categories, it’s essential first to understand the primary purpose of each option.

A breeding doe is a female goat used primarily for breeding and producing offspring. These goats may also be used for milk production, but their primary purpose is to produce viable offspring for reproduction.

A breeder carefully chooses a Breeding Doe. She is mated with a male goat (also known as a buck) with qualities the breeder finds favorable while trying to reach a specific desired genetic make-up. This process is known as selective Breeding.

A Dairy doe is a female goat bred specifically for milk production. These goats may not be suitable as breeding animals, as they may not produce healthy, viable offspring.

A Dairy Doe, however, has a different purpose in the goat world. Dairy is generally bred for production, meaning its milk production levels, general health, size, and other features are desirable for dairy efforts.

Breeding Does, and Dairy Does: Differences

Now that you understand the purpose of each type of goat, let’s look at the differences between them. As stated earlier, a Breeding Doe’s primary purpose is reproduction, while the Dairy Doe is used primarily for milk production. However, there are a few other differences, as well.

The most significant differences between a Breeding Doe and a Dairy Doe are size, weight, feed consumption, and horns. Breeding Does tend to be much larger than Dairy Does. Breeding Does also eat more than Dairy Does, are usually heavier, and often do not have the complete set of horns that Dairy Does will usually possess.

These are the main differences between Breeding Does and Dairy Does. Of course, depending on the breeder’s goals, there could be several other differences based on the selection of which traits they want to reproduce in the herd.


A pregnant goat will typically produce the most milk and will be able to maintain milk production once they have given birth. However, goats can produce milk even when not pregnant as long as they receive regular milk letdowns.

Milk letdowns are when milk production is triggered in the goat’s udder. You can do it by regular milking or administering hormones such as oxytocin.

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