Refusing to Eat Grain/Milking Issues

Discussion in 'Goat Management' started by Aozora, Mar 27, 2018.

  1. Aozora

    Aozora New Member

    Mar 27, 2018
    My 2 Nubian FF does are recently freshened, and I'm having issues with them being difficult about the milking stand. My one doe, freshened 8 days ago, had triplets and she's doing well with feeding them. My other doe, freshened 4 days ago, had a single buckling and he's only nursing one side, so I'm having to milk her out on the other side every day.

    Single mom will jump up on the stand just fine and tuck into the grain, but when I milk her she stops eating. She won't eat the entire time, and usually by the time I am done milking the other doe has screamed enough to upset her and she just wants to get back to the stall. They don't like being separated, even though they can see each other and their kids the whole time. The kiddos don't cry at all about moms being taken out for milking/feeding, so it's not the kids upsetting them, just each other screaming.

    Triplet mom is a whole different set of issues. She won't climb up on the milking stand at all. She used to, before she got as big as a house with kids. Now she acts like she can't, and honestly, I can feel her hips clicking a bit when I try to boost her back end in encouragement. Since she's not on the stand, she isn't restrained at all with a head stanchion, which makes attempting to milk her a new rodeo. She screams and kicks and flails and runs around and chokes herself and climbs the walls. I'm not trying to milk her out, just a few squirts to get her used to the concept so that I don't have issues once her kids are weaned. She absolutely refuses to touch the feed I put out for her, and it can't tempt her to climb onto the stand.

    I'm feeding alfalfa, but I'm concerned about body condition for both does, especially triplet mom. I haven't changed anything about their grain. They had no problems eating it before freshening--they're goats, after all. But once I touch teats, food is no.

    I'm so frustrated. I've spent a long time and a lot of effort raising these does specifically for milking, and they're hurting themselves by not eating their grain. Triplet mom has been doing this since she freshened. I thought hunger would convince her over time, but it's been 8 days and she's still refusing. What do I do?
  2. Noahsoak

    Noahsoak Member

    Sep 16, 2013
    I'm going to watch this closely! I had a goat do that as well, then she got to where she would look at the milk stand like a torture chamber!

    She was so concerned with the other goats and her kids hollering she wouldn't eat. :(. I was having to give her grain separately during the day when I wasn't trying to milk.

    I've read for new milkers, don't milk immediately, but just put your hand there, near, then progress slowly. My goat started climbing the stanchion as best she could when she had reached her limit.

    I think if there were no kids, it might be better? Ramp for stand?

  3. singinggoatgirl

    singinggoatgirl Active Member

    Apr 13, 2016
    the deep south
    I'm not an expert, but Snickers did something similar, though not quite as extreme as yours. In my experience with her, she calmed down once she didn't have babies to feed and had a two months of me being persistant and not turning loose of her teats no matter what level of fit she threw. Mostly, I think she knew exactly what that milk was for, and she wanted to keep it all for her babies, not me. Once they left, she only took a couple days to realize engorgement is miserable and I was her only source of relief.

    On the refusing grain thing, Snickers did that, too. She got better when I put the herd queen right next to her. Herd queen Blondie was all too willing to eat all that extra nummy grain, and the competition convinced Snickers to eat voraciously again.

    I don't have a milk stand, so I don't know if that would work for you. I just tie them to the fence or my porch, so it's really easy to put Blondie up next to her.
  4. Aozora

    Aozora New Member

    Mar 27, 2018
    It's been two and a half weeks. Single mom is doing fine on the milking stand.

    Triplet mom refuses to eat grain. Her body condition has gone down to a 1. Her FAMANCHA is fine, so no obvious worm-related anemia. I think ketosis is supposed to make goats weak, but she has enough energy to fight her sister over alfalfa. She drinks nonstop. They have free choice alfalfa at all times. They go out into 1.5 acres of brush/forest for about 8 hours a day. There is *NO REASON* for her to be losing body condition like this, and I can't get her to eat grain to fatten back up.

    She's starving to death. Why? What do I do?
  5. Ranger1

    Ranger1 Well-Known Member

    Sep 1, 2014
    I’ve had a few does do that. I’m convinced it is something metabolic as it almost always starts after they kid, but I haven’t figured it out. I just end up culling them, sadly.
  6. Davon

    Davon Active Member

    Sep 21, 2017
    North Carolina
    You could try stopping the browse and using something more consistent like grass hay or just alfalfa. The reason I say this is because I tried feeding my goats with lots of browse while I was milking them and ran into problems with them going off of grain. My situation was different since I moved them from one area of the woods to another so they would get a pretty big change in diet when I moved them. I don't guarantee that this will fix it but I think I would try it. Good luck!
  7. mariarose

    mariarose Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2014
    SouthCentralKY, USA
    Is the triplet mom producing enough milk for the triplets? AND for you to milk? Her body may be screaming for more nutrition because it can't supply the milk required and it wants to keep the milk for the babies. If this is the case, you must supply quality nutrition on the stand to help the body produce more milk (I don't know what you feed, some feeds are better for producing milk, others just provide extra calories which will keep her alive but won't help her produce milk)

    Perhaps try just feeding her on the stand and not going near that udder for a while. Were she mine, that is what I'd do. Get her on that stand for separate feeding and in a few days start handling the udder but not milking. I'd not milk until I felt there was extra in there, which may be a month or so.

    Feeding tripps is a lot to ask of a FF.

    Yes, you may have to manhandle her onto the stand for a while, but if you give in and feed her off the stand, she'll never learn to associate the stand with extra feed and attention (good things)
    catharina, Sfgwife and Davon like this.
  8. toth boer goats

    toth boer goats Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2008
    Corning California
    All good suggestions and advice.

    Can you get a fecal for worms and cocci?
    Sometimes stress from kidding can trigger these issues.
    mariarose likes this.
  9. goatblessings

    goatblessings Fair-Haven Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2015
    Southwest Ohio
    I would not try to milk her if she is trying to feed triplets as a FF, unless they are not keeping her udder empty. She needs good nutrition to nurse the kids, and herself back into condition. I would feed her in her pen, or anywhere she is comfortable. After the kids are weaned, you can try again.
  10. Aozora

    Aozora New Member

    Mar 27, 2018
    I did just finally get a ramp (took a while for delivery), so I can start pushing her back up onto the milking stand again. I've been clipping her collar onto a support and she doesn't like the feel of it pulling--may have something to do with her refusing to eat.

    FAMANCHA tells me she isn't wormy. Wormy goats would not have such red eyelids.

    They have free choice alfalfa, and I've started supplementing beat pulp and additional alfalfa pellets since they seem to like it. I wonder if the fresh spring browse might be something to do with it. Single mom is having some pretty large (ie not berry, more like mini cow pats) poops after browsing for 8 hours.

    I've been feeding DuMor goat sweet feed, specifically to help avoid ketosis. Single mom gets 1lb + 1 cup CalfManna. Triplet mom will still eat CalfManna, so as of yesterday I'm giving her as much as she will eat (only about 1lb anyhow) mixed in with 1/2 cup DuMor and a few handfuls of goat treats.

    She's feeding all of her triplets great (each gained 10lbs in 3 weeks), and she's milking about 1.5lbs on top of that. It's pretty incredible for a FF. I know she's not getting enough nutrition to keep up, hence the loss of condition. But how do I get her to eat enough to keep up?
  11. Aozora

    Aozora New Member

    Mar 27, 2018
    I didn't originally intend to milk her due to feeding trips, but it's really clear they're not emptying her out. Like I said, I'm getting about 1.5lbs from her once daily. Should I stop milking her so she stops producing as much?
  12. ksalvagno

    ksalvagno Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Actually, yes they can. Happened to me. Have a fecal done to include coccidia.
    mariarose likes this.
  13. mariarose

    mariarose Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2014
    SouthCentralKY, USA
    No, don't stop milking her, but change up her feed. Since you are convinced she is producing more than her babies need, but is losing condition because of it, add in some empty calories, like corn? Low protein will put on fat, not make milk.

    Do get a fecal, because FAMACHA is a good indication, not a good confirmation.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018 at 2:26 PM
  14. toth boer goats

    toth boer goats Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2008
    Corning California
    Yes, please get a fecal for worms and cocci.
  15. Aozora

    Aozora New Member

    Mar 27, 2018
    More updates post vet visit. Diagnosis: goats gonna goat.

    Got her eating on the stand, but when she's on the stand the kids can't see her and after a few minutes they start to squall, and that puts her off her food. Touching her udder while she eats is still a no-no. (I don't think I'm ever going to dam raise again, after all this...)

    I gave everyone toltrazuril to wipe out all coccidia everywhere. No more worries about coccidosis for a bit.

    Vet visit, she's skinny at 176lbs. He says he'd prefer her at 190. Worms, minimal load. No ketosis. No milk fever. He doesn't think she's sick at all, but recommended stealing cud from healthy single mom and giving it to her to help with gut bacteria.

    But she's still being stubborn about food. I don't know if this is a question that has ever been asked before in goat history, but does anyone have any tips or tricks to get her to eat more grain?