Assuming a goat’s nutritional requirements fit somewhere between that of sheep and cattle is a mistake.
Two 40-a-side Waikato Milking System Loopline herringbones, each with its own pit, makes the milking platform one of a handful in New Zealand.
The herringbones were part of SBL’s cow farm; it lay unused for 15 years until the dairy goat farm was set up three years ago.
With 500 cows milked year-round on the dairy farm, Kevin Schuler says the business owners looked at diversifying. Then an opportunity arose to supply Dairy Goat Co-op, Hamilton.
The farm milks 1400 goats twice daily, each goat yielding about 4L/day.
“Goats now are a big part of our operation, cashflow and revenue,” says Schuler. “We were 100% reliant on the cow cheque, but two years later we are only 25% reliant on it.”
Schuler says running the goat and cow operations side by side has its challenges; pasture management is critical.
Fresh grass is supplied to both lots of animals. The goats are also fed silage and dried distillers grain (DDG) from Oilseed Products.
Schuler says dairy goats are more of a challenge to manage than cows.
“Goats can be fickle; if you change something quickly they will throw their toys out of the cot.”
Schuler says WMS herringbones make milking goats easier for him and farm manager Rudolph Van Zuydam. Two persons milk the 1400 goats daily, each milking taking about two and a half hours.
One advantage of the herringbone is that 45-50 goats can be lined up on each side at a time, depending on the goats’ size.
Goats milk quickly: the first group’s finish coincides with cups-on for the next group.
“Milking takes up a big chunk of your day; the efficient herringbone system means you don’t get too fatigued.”