Now you have the chance! Yes! There's a milking doe for sale right now! As you dream of having your own herd to milk, have you thought about udders yet? You've probably heard the terms: fore udder, rear attachments, milk in pounds, & probably even udder sizes. But really, what does all that mean? Medial, Escutcheon, Supernumerary, Pendulous? What? So the udder is huge! Lots of milk you think........ but does udder size matter? How do you know you're getting a good milking goat? There is more to a good milking goat than the udder, but for now let's talk about that magical goat milk dispenser.
So, what makes an udder a good udder?
Or a bad udder for that matter?
Having heard terms like Medial Suspensory Ligaments or Pendulous Udder how often do you find you think you know what someone is talking about, but not quite? Don't you think learning what to look for would be better than hearing medial suspensory over and over again? Instead of saying terms for this and that, let's see if we can simplify everything shall we?
The Rule of Thirds?Rule of Thirds
The other thing you want to see from the side view is the teats. The teats should be on the front third of the udder, teats with a slight angle towards the front of the goat. Especially with a full udder.
The other thing to see is where the udder attaches to the belly of the goat. You want to see a slight incline, gentle slope up to the belly/chest. Pockets are to be avoided.
Sometimes this 'pocket' is so bad, that there is an actual hollow formed where the udder meets the belly of the goat. This is a sign of poor fore udder attachments, meaning there are loose ligaments in the front with insufficient support for the udder during the milking stage.
Back to the back........
Wider hip/pelvic means that birthing will be easier on the doe - more space. This is a definite plus since you will have to breed her from time to time to maintain a milking doe.
Teats from the rear. You want to see the teats from the rear. Ideally you want to see the teats evenly spaced, pointing down. You don't want the teats to be too close to the inner legs. If the teats are too close to the legs, it is harder to milk the doe and increase the risk of mastitis.
But realize that a high producing doe after many breedings may eventually have their udder floor go below the hocks, but you will still want to see the upper part of the udder with a nice 'upside down' U and no space between the side of the udders and the legs.
Good teats should be a comfortable size for milking, with a visible division from the udder. You want teats that are cylinder shape, not cone shaped. Overly large teats, or unusually small teats, make it harder for kids to nurse or to hand milk. Even more important is the size of the teat orifice (opening where the milk comes out). Small teats can grow and develop some from the first to the second lactation, but small orifices are always small orifices. That takes more effort to get the milk out of the udder, and can be a pain for your hands.
supernumerary can be noted at birth, there are cases when extra teats start growing up to 6 weeks after a kid is born. Though unusual, it does happen. Usually it is due to the combination of recessive genes of a doe and buck. Though there have been cases of it happening solely from the buck's genes or the doe's
genes. Goats (both bucks and does) should have only two
teats. Any more teats and the goat should NOT be used in ANY breeding program. Multiple teats can greatly increase the odds of mastitis, as well as causing milking problems with closed teats or multiple teat openings. Either instance denotes a cull goat.
A Doe is a Doe is a doe..........
Really? Your angel? No, nothing so drastic.
Though we would always love having that perfect udder, sometimes it just doesn't happen. Buying kids it's difficult to gauge an udder when you buy a 8-12 week old doeling.
But there are things you can do to improve your line.
Carefully choose the buck you will breed to your doe.
You want to see the sire's scrotal attachment and the prospective buck as well. You don't want to see a scrotal sac that hangs low, or has a large split in it. Like in a good udder you want the scrotum held high, but not too high, with even sides. Scrotal sac should have a good solid width. You will want to see the dam's udder as well. If you can see that the sire and dam are good quality, that will go a long way to improve on your line. If the potential breeding buck is good as well, then you can be comfortable
knowing the kids will better your line and improve on the udders. Don't save bucklings from a doe with a so-so udder - improve your line through her doelings instead. Now you know what to look for or at least what to avoid.
What are you waiting for? Let's go see that doe!
Very special thanks to Pat Showalter for proofing & assistance!