We have a very small dairy goat herd that for about 8 years supplied milk for our own family's use. Currently we are not milking any goats. We have two young does, "Trixie" and "Kimmie," who will be milk-producers next year.
Goats breed in the fall. They are seasonal breeders, like deer -- it is hard to get them to breed at other times of the year. They are pregnant for 5 months. In February or March they give birth to one to four kids.
The goats have a lactation cycle similar to a dairy cow: they start out producing colostrum for a few days, then begin producing milk. Milk production gradually increases for a few weeks, then levels off for a few weeks, then begins to very gradually decline. We have been able to count on 7 months of milk. When the goats are "dry," during their gestation, we really miss the milk! Goats are more productive than most people realize. We get an average of one gallon of milk per goat per day for three months before production starts to decline.
Since our family of four cannot always keep up with all the milk produced by the goats, I make cheese from surplus milk. I buy rennet tablets from Nasco. One-fourth of a rennet tablet will coagulate 2 gallons of milk.
A note about raw milk: We do drink raw goats' milk. There is a lot of controversy about raw milk.
I have done a fair bit of reading on the subject, and what I've decided for our own family is that we will drink raw milk.
The goats are totally free-range, and they find what they need in their diet so that I do not need
to give them any de-wormers or other medications.
On the other hand, I am not willing to sell, trade, barter, or give raw milk to anyone else. I
have had a number of requests for this. All of the things that make the raw milk safe for my family break down as soon
as the milk goes to someone else.