Commercial Goat Dairy : LUSENET : Dairygoats : One Thread

hehe, i knew that would get a few folks attention, hey, how do we start a thread without a good title, since we arestill in the beginning stages of setting ours up , i thought i would get this ball rolling,

our biggest challenge right now is the same old song and dance, great idea, but since noone else is doing it we cant justify the loan... blah blah blah from banks, i tell them , you dont understand, we have a market, we have a buyer, we need goats and to get the barn set up.and to do that ASAP, we need money.. soemthing we are finding like so many other things, we will have to get by on what we got...... GRRRRHHHH

we have , right now, a free bulk tank (well, actually 2 of them) we just have to go get them , so thats not a big expense at all.. we need to remodel the barn and get it up to dairy standards, while we can go as grade c, we want to try for at least grade b , a would be great, but not sure if possible.... the concrete work will be $1000 the line and claws for milking will be another $1000 and the goats, i figure, if we keep buying kids...(i know not the best bet, but all we can afford out of pocket) will be another $2-3000 we already have 16 does, and will be getting more in 2 weeks, plus some of our girls are due for summer kids in june so i figure all we need is 30 more does, i have a couple of deals worked out for grade does, and the rest i will continue searching for

luckily we have a barn that is in fairly good shape, it needs a floor, right now its dirt. and fencing, there is none other than the small pen the girls have now... which isnt much, so we will be doing that this year too, all with the hope we can get this all set up , and running by this time next year :)

-- Beth,in ND (, April 08, 2002


Have you sold goats or milk products before? A friend of mine got a loan for a pie shop, and what convinced the bank to loan her the money was that she had been selling pies out of her house for years, had sold a couple of thousand dollars worth the year before, and had the RECORDS to prove it. If it hadn't been for good records, she says she never would have gotten the loan.

-- Terri (, April 08, 2002.

Out of interest what sort of upgrades or facilities are needed to turn your barn into a "commercial dairy" type barn. I guess I am curious because I will be making upgrades to my goats facilities and although I don't have a desire to become anything other than a "home dairy" it wouldn't hurt to keep things in mind.

-- Terri in NS (, April 08, 2002.

Wow, I guess I could write a novel about how our commercial dairy started. Funny Beth, you must have been reading Dennis's mind, he wanted to look into starting a Commercial dairy discussion or list. It was too early this AM and I didn't have neough caffine, so I can't recall exactly what he said.

We began our dairy with the investment of selling our farm in VA and moved here to AR where raw milk regs are more conducive to a dairy. We quickly discovered that it wasn't going to fall into place like I thought. I was discussing that with Joe and Dennis this very past weekend, how I had this vision we would be done by Feburary and shipping. NOT!!!! We had this little thing to do and that. And most importantly the reason we did was because we are doing this without any bank loans, just working with what we have. You are lucky in that you have the bulk tanks to start with, we had to hunt for those.

It sounds like you have a good start, make sure there are no surprises in your state's milk regs that may cost you money down the road. I have tons of information on going commercial if you are interested. There are may considerations to be given to in purchasing stock, you really want to get the best milkers you can afford with not good but excellent production behind them. You also need bucks who can do the same, who are from dams that milk more than your does. You need higher butterfat because of butterfat bonus money, you have to keep somatic cell count low for bonus money too. But if you are already into this then you probably already know that.

I wish you well. You sound so excited, it will all come together for you. Patience is the key.

-- Bernice (, April 08, 2002.

Hi Beth! Yup, must have been reading my mind! The best thing you can attack the bank with is an "intent to buy" letter from your buyer, and then a copy of your buying contract. We got our intent to buy letter before we ever even started the barn. Our buyer, Mike at Jackson Mitchell in Yellville knows all about startups and how to help them out. There are 8 new dairies in this area this year. We financed our operation here in Arkansas by selling other property in Oklahoma. No goat milk buyers there. Of course we still need to insulate the barn put up wallboard and fiberglass panels. But the inspector says we can go online with grade c now and since Jackson Mitchell cans the milk that's ok with them. They do want everyone grade A as soon as possible so they can sell Grade A.

Bulk tanks! Be sure they have the calibration chart with them or the manufacturer is still around and you can get one. The cow dairy associations will not help you get a tank re-calibrated because we're the competition. I finally got the county ag extention agent to help me out and we'll be calibrating one of ours this week. Set the thermostat to cut out at 35 to 36 degrees and be sure the tank does not go up over 40. If you want to do your milking equipment cheap, hit ebay and buy up old Surge Bucket milkers and convert to goat shells and inflations. You can milk 2 goats at once on a Surge cow bucket. Be sure to put cut offs in the line near the shells. Our ancient Surge vacuum pump will run two buckets so that's 4 goats at once. Our big pump is about 30 CFM so with 3.5 horsepower and will really be too big for our operation.

Goats. Talk to the show breeders in your area. If you want to show, have your "good stock" but if you're milking only, you don't care as much about having the perfect show udder and conformation. We do both. A dairy's proof is in the tank. Get good producers, but not extreme as under this milking conditions it's hard on an extreeeemely good producer. Also look for young first fresheners. They'll won't be as productive but they'll be cheaper. If they don't increase in their second lactation, you can cull them since you'll have bred replacements by then. Try to stay away from 2nd year, 3rd year or older first fresheners. It's our experience they won't ever develope the production you want. Be sure to research your feed. 16% dairy goat ration just won't keep your butterfat up. Email and I'll send you our recipie. Use the best hay available. Preferably good alfalfa, or alfalfa orchardgrass mixture. Feed hay before grain to keep the grain in the goat longer to be utilized.

The Barn. Check with your inspector to see exactly what changes will be needed before you start your conversion. If you don't you might just spend money you don't need to. I had always thought of dairy barns as concrete block structures, but that's not necessarily so. We built a frame barn on a concrete slab floor draining 1/4 inch per foot to the drains. Water resistant wallboard over insulation with fiberglass or plastic panels the first 4 feet off the floor. The inspector likes it fine! I think the milk ordinance calls for only 16 inches, but wanted to be safe rather than sorry.

We started saving milk for the buyer last friday night. Wish us luck!

Hope this helps a bit,


-- Dennis (, April 08, 2002.

Oh, I have the latest version of the Federal Milk Ordinance that states what all the feds want in a barn, but you'll need to contact your inspector too. It's a pdf.


-- Dennis (, April 08, 2002.

Dennis, you metion to stay away from 2nd , 3rd year or older first fresheners.And in your experience they won't ever develope the production wanted.Does breeding a doe early in age make better milk production in the long run? I'm interested in your recipe of feed that produces more butter fat then if I were feeding with a 16% ration.Is it common or desireable for goat dairies to cross breed,Example:( nubian/alpine) and is there advantages doing so for butter fat content and production in general?

-- SM Steve (, April 09, 2002.

It is less likely for a doe to develop a fatty or hard udder if bred the first season at 70-80 lbs. You also have them in production quicker and not losing a year or two of feeding for nothing. But don't breed lighter than that or their growth might be stunted. They may not be able to utilize enough nutrition for their own body while making kids.

We don't actually cross breed for dairy purpuses unless there's a grade doe that really produces and we want to save her genes and breed up to American. You might get some hybrid vigor, but sales of kids is one of your income sources and American or Purebred kids will bring in more money.

Feed Mixture:

Total of 18 parts. (scoops, coffe cans, etc)

2 parts milkmaker 4 parts 20%creep 2 crimped Barley 1 part whole corn 2 part chops 1 whole oats 2 parts alfalfa pellets 1/2 part cotton seed or meal if don't have seed 1/2 part calf manna 1 part milo 1 part beet pulp 1 part sunflower seeds

Minerals to suit your location.

-- Dennis (, April 09, 2002.

That sounds like so much, Dennis, and there are some things on your list that I don't know of. I would like to mix my own, just because of the fluctuation in ingredients in the mixed ration, but I don't know if I can get all that stuff. Right now our milkers are getting one pound of mixed ration (16%) 1/2 cup BOSS 1/2 cup milk plus pellets, morning and night. Sweetlix block, mineral block all the hay they want and half a day of free grazing with lots of brows-y type plants. The bucks and pony get the other half a day. I would like to up one of the does production but can't get her to eat anymore than this....can I put extra molasses on all that mess to get her to eat much is too much? Thank you all for sharing your big brains! Cara

-- Cara Dailey (, April 09, 2002.

I know Cara, the mills in Arkasnas don't know what milo is and don't have crimped barley. We had to go back to Oklahoma to get many ingredients. We have shopped around and substituted. You may have to settle for 16 to 18% Dairy Pellets or creep pellets, BOSS, cotton seed hulls of you can't get whole seed, and hen scratch if you can't get milo/barley. If you can't get Milk Maker, use a sweet feed 16% for extra boost. The calf manna/alfalfa pellets are to up protein. Don't ad more molassas as this can cause thiamine deficiency. and isn't really good for the rumen.

The sunflower seeds, cotton seed, and milo really help with butterfat. We have a first freshener Sannen/Ober cross with 6.7% butterfat on her first test! Of course that's not typical, but sure made us happy!

We feed 1 to 2 pounds depending on size of the doe and production.

-- Dennis (, April 09, 2002.

Terri do you have Adobe reader? I'll email you the pdf with the requirements for a Grade A dairy.

Beth, Joe is originally from Oaks, ND. Anywhere near you?

-- Dennis (, April 09, 2002.

I know Cara, the mills in Arkasnas don't know what milo is and don't have crimped barley. We had to go back to Oklahoma to get many ingredients. We have shopped around and substituted. You may have to settle for 16 to 18% Dairy Pellets or creep pellets, BOSS, cotton seed hulls of you can't get whole seed, and hen scratch if you can't get milo/barley. If you can't get Milk Maker, use a sweet feed 16% for extra boost. The calf manna/alfalfa pellets are to up protein. Don't ad more molassas as this can cause thiamine deficiency. and isn't really good for the rumen.

The sunflower seeds, cotton seed, and milo really help with butterfat. We have a first freshener Sannen/Ober cross with 6.7% butterfat on her first test! Of course that's not typical, but sure made us happy!

We feed 1 to 2 pounds depending on size of the doe and production and needs.

-- Dennis (, April 09, 2002.

Hi Dennis, I have always been (well critisized is really way to strong of a word) about having cottenseed hulls and meal in our grain mix. It hurts the keeping quality of your milk, and is also very high in pestisides due to how much they spray the cotton fields. We have it in for butterfat, but also with crimped corn and 12% molassas per ton (both high mosisture products), we never have mold, though we live in the himid gulf coast. Do you have any concerns? How often will your milk be picked up? And we have never had anyone complain about our milk. Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh TX (Nubians) (, April 09, 2002.

oakes!!, hey , thats like 25 miles due east from me, i am in fullerton north dakota, a little nothing town !, we live on the old kelsh farm... not sure how long we will have to be here before locals start calling it pondview dairy... but hey WTH

our feed mill will only mix in 1 ton batches, so our mix is a 20% mix to small it down would work out to be 50 lbs corn 30 lbs soybeans 30 lbs oats 10 lbs BOSSeeds 10 lbs molasses 1 lb minearal 1 lb calcium

this varies slightly from batch to batch , right now i am using less oats , because my normal mix cals for more, but in this area oats are pricey right now :)

looking for goats, whenever possible i look for registerable or good looking goats, meaning i can see the dam , and sometimes the sire .... to judge future, we will be buying a few select DHIA bucksbut thats next year, once we are selling, i have talked to the ONE state inspector , thats right, the whole state has 1 ...and 1 part time assistant, we will be the only commercial goat milking operation, and in the last few years dairies, even cows have been in a decline in nd.... which is odd, since the state has a lot of tax credits and wirte offs....

as for bulk tanks, right now i am kind of looking and stockpiling... hoping i can get one or two more folks..... :)

you nead plastic panels on the walls, a seperate hot water heater, a stainless sink, a seperate sink for handwashing, the bulk tank , compressor and pump right now in ND, all that will get you a class b.... a line and more intricate setup will bump you up right away, interesting to note you can still hand milk for class c , but there are no class c setups in ND right now... the last goat dairy went out of business over 8 years ago

-- Beth,in ND (, April 09, 2002.

Hi Vicki,

I hadn't heard the convroversy over cotton see hulls. Wasn't aware they had any more pesticides that other grain crops. Hmmm. Any more info on that one? On our route, once we get in the groove, they're supposed to pick up every three days. Seems kinda often considering our production right now though. Also, I've never noticed any off flavor. We don't put in any more molasses than what's already in the pelleted feed.

Beth, I'll put Joe on to talk to you about ND, he knows your area. This is neat! He's been all over the country and done most everything since he left that area. He's now a professional dog handler and I'm a "retired" banker/tax prep/A+ computer tech.

Sounds much the same here for Grade A, double sink and separate handwashing sink, etc. We started from scratch here. Just a hunting cabin (shack) a water meter, and a lagoon. Now there's a satellite dish out front, a computer in the cabin and an outhouse out back. Actually I did finally put in indoor plumbing. The barn is almost finished and we're saving milk. Long haul, but fun! Oh, can you get a "letter of intent to buy milk" from your buyer? I'll help you with them there ornery bankers.


-- Dennis (, April 09, 2002.

Dennis - I do have adobe. If you can send it along that would be interesting. Thanks!

-- Terri in NS (, April 10, 2002.

Hi Terri,

I sent it, but it came back undeliverable. Did I not get the right email address?

-- Dennis (, April 10, 2002.

Thanks Dennis for the recipe. About what Vickie wrote on the cotton seed meal,I haven't heard anything latley said about it, but in the 70's when I lived in an area where organic gardening and farming were more common (Oregon) I was told by people that the cotton seed meal, because it's not considered a food product, was allowed to be sprayed with pesticides that are not usually used on food crops and it also had more herbicide residues.IT was a long time ago so I don't remember all the facts. But I was convinced not to use it.It was sold as a fertilizer for use in gardens. 4 years ago I was ordering some top soil here in Tennessee and the women on the phone was making it clear the topsoil was composted cotton seed hulls.When I asked why she was stressing the fact of what the compost was made from, she said alot of people don't want soil made from the cotton seed hulls because of the pesticide residues, but she added after it is composted she believed alot of the pesticide residues would have broken down or washed out of the compost.I wish I knew more about it ,besides the fact , some people claim it's bad stuff.

-- SM Steve (, April 11, 2002.


You can email Greg Gogates at to request assistance with calibration of your bulk tank controller.

ISO 17025 is a standard which applies to commercial test laboratories and calibration laboratories. If you know the name of the tank or controller, you might ask Mr. Gogates to post the question for you on the listserve group forum. Trust me - someone out there in calibration land will know or be familiar with, your controller. You would be surprised at some of the stuff that is requested! But they are a wonderful group of dedicated metrologists and have always helped me with requests. Someone may be able to help you with your calibration of your tank or at least point you in the right direction.

Take care

-- Cindy McNatt (, April 11, 2002.

Thanks Cindy, I'll give that a try! We've been in contact with everyone in Arkansas and Oklahoma I think. We've gotten the procedures from Wisconsin and the local Ag Extention Agent is going to come out and observe. We'll do it in 5 gallon increments but don't have the software to fill in the 1/32 inch blanks. So maybe Gred could help there.

Appreciate it!

-- Dennis (, April 11, 2002.

I have a question about where would i sell milk in the state of kansas i want to raise dairy and meat. i have kinda started on meat goats finishing them out in pen and cleaning out pastures. how would i go about starting a dairy? I have a Cattle dairy about a mile up the road from me. but how easy would it be for me to start or should i keep on feeding them out.

-- Anthony Etienne (, September 22, 2002.

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