For the Love of Goats

Goat Milk Testing: What, Why, and How

December 20, 2023 Deborah Niemann
Goat Milk Testing: What, Why, and How
For the Love of Goats
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For the Love of Goats
Goat Milk Testing: What, Why, and How
Dec 20, 2023
Deborah Niemann

Milk testing can provide you with a plethora of information about your does' milk production and the components of their milk, and they can even earn milk stars, but a lot of people never get started because they find the process daunting. 

Lisa Shepard, board member and former Performance Program Coordinator for the American Dairy Goat Association, joins us to talk about the different types of milk testing and how to get started. We talk about where to find a tester, as well as owner-sampler and group testing. You'll learn about one-day tests, 305-day tests, DHI, and DHIR. Lisa also explains how does and bucks earn milk stars, as well as the things that most commonly trip up owners when they are getting stared.

See full show notes here >>

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No one ever said raising goats was easy, but it doesn't have to cost a fortune or drive you crazy! You just need the right information. Click here to learn more about our Goats 365 membership.

Or see my other goat courses in Thrifty Homesteader Academy.

Show Notes Transcript

Milk testing can provide you with a plethora of information about your does' milk production and the components of their milk, and they can even earn milk stars, but a lot of people never get started because they find the process daunting. 

Lisa Shepard, board member and former Performance Program Coordinator for the American Dairy Goat Association, joins us to talk about the different types of milk testing and how to get started. We talk about where to find a tester, as well as owner-sampler and group testing. You'll learn about one-day tests, 305-day tests, DHI, and DHIR. Lisa also explains how does and bucks earn milk stars, as well as the things that most commonly trip up owners when they are getting stared.

See full show notes here >>

To see the most recent episodes, visit

Want to support the content you love?
Head over to --

Thanks for listening!

No one ever said raising goats was easy, but it doesn't have to cost a fortune or drive you crazy! You just need the right information. Click here to learn more about our Goats 365 membership.

Or see my other goat courses in Thrifty Homesteader Academy.

Introduction 0:03
For the love of goats! We are talking about everything goat. Whether you're a goat owner, a breeder, or just a fan of these wonderful creatures, we've got you covered. And now, here's Deborah Niemann.

Deborah Niemann 0:17
Hello everyone, and welcome to today's episode. This is going to be really fun for those of you with dairy goats. I am joined today by Lisa Shepard, who seems like has done lots of different jobs in ADGA, but was the performance program coordinator for many years. And as part of that, she oversaw the milk testing program, which many people participate in, and which we've had various other guests in the past talk about milk testing their goats and stuff. But I get a lot of questions from people who are thinking about milk testing, and so I thought it would be great to get Lisa on here to talk about the very specific details about what milk testing is, how it works, what the requirements are, and just all the nitty gritty stuff. Our farm was on milk testing for a total of eight years between AGS and ADGA, but it's been a while now, and so my brain's getting fuzzy. I'm definitely not remembering the details like I used to. So I'm really excited to have Lisa with us on the show here today. Welcome, Lisa.

Lisa Shepard 1:21
Well, thank you for inviting me to do this. It's a little bit out of my comfort zone, but I'm very passionate about milk testing. I  have been for many years, and so that's why I agreed. So if I can be of any help at any time on milk testing, I try to still cover a lot of bases in different mediums. So Facebook, email, whatever. Still always willing to help people get along in their milk testing path.

Deborah Niemann 1:52
Awesome. I remember that when I wanted to get started with milk testing and ADGA, everybody I talked to said, "Oh talk to Lisa. She's great. She's wonderful. She will be so happy to help you get started." And you were. We met at the 2011 ADGA conference, and you absolutely were great and made it so easy because I know when somebody's looking at it, it can look really complex and intimidating.

Lisa Shepard 2:17
You're right. It's kind of a steep learning curve in a way, and the milk testing part itself is very easy, very straightforward. The time you spend in the barn with the goats makes complete sense. It's really getting started. Getting all the players in place because it is a multi-level program that involves a lot of organizations that work together, and then the paperwork, which can be a little bit daunting. But the actual milk testing itself is fun. There's a lot to be learned. We like to say what is desired, so hopefully you have goals when you're wanting to do milk tests. We certainly have the descriptive information from testing, so that's the 'what is' part. We get some diagnostic information from milk testing, sometimes what is wrong because you can tell that often on test days. Predictive information. Where are we going with the breeding programs? What if we did this, or what if we changed our management a little bit, or what if we brought in a buck to bring more butterfat into our herds or things like that? That is the 'what if'.

Lisa Shepard 3:28
And then we do get prescriptive information back from the organizations themselves, kind of what should be. So, where are we with our components compared to other areas of the country with our other breeders of the same breed? Where are we with that lactation curves? Are we seeing animals that are productive over a long period of time? Do we have those that shut down quickly? We do get a lot of different kinds of information. The fun part and why people do it are for recognition. The awards, the recognition from the breed registry, but sometimes from individual associations themselves. That's kind of the fun part. Really, when you ask people, why are you doing it? It's usually to say, "because I want a milk star". We recognize that, but there's a lot of- you can really dive deep in this program if you want to.

Deborah Niemann 4:28
Yeah, exactly. I know we wanted milk stars too, but it also helped us make a lot of breeding decisions, especially when it came to like, which bucks are we going to keep out of which does and that kind of stuff. And which does are we going to sell to a pet home or something like that? And that's what I miss about not doing milk testing anymore. I used to love getting those reports every month and diving into the numbers and everything. So we're recording this in December because January is when the year starts for the performance programs and for milk testing. So if somebody is thinking of milk testing next year, what should they be doing right now to get ready?

Lisa Shepard 5:11
Well, it is very good timing because like many other registries, and I know ADGA is one of them, just released their applications, both for renewal herds and for new herds. It's a little bit separate because one has to set you up to start with, and the other is just kind of a continuation. And so we call that a renewal. We do have two things as far as getting involved in the registry. Most people with dairy goats do want to do it as a DHIR program, the R standing for registry and the DHI, of course, dairy herd improvement. So we kind of heavily do that in goats. It's not quite the same in the dairy cattle side, but in dairy goats, we like to involve the registries. So they have their renewal deadline, which is January 31st in ADGA. I'm not sure of others. However, it's important to remember that the lactation year doesn't match the actual calendar year. So we call the lactation year starting October 1st. So it's actually already started for those animals that would have 2024 lactations. But with a renewal herd, there's a deadline just so we can keep you in the system. But with a new herd, you really can get started at any time for 2024, starting now. So if you're doing it with the registry, you want to do the application.

Lisa Shepard 6:33
The other part that I kind of think is important is to actually consider the registry almost last. It's really set up your other organizations. Find your local association. Find the laboratory that they're going to work with. Talk to the DHI manager. Find what record center are they going to use. Get your herd set up. Oftentimes, I think. It's super important to find a mentor in the area that you're going to work with because it is a national program, and what happens in California doesn't necessarily happen in Massachusetts. So finding someone local to your area that is familiar with milk testing can be very helpful. So those are the things to kind of get in place now. And then once you have all those items in place, then you can contact the registry and say, hey, I've got everything set up. And here's what I'm going to do. Because they're going to ask you, "who are you working with?" So that's why I kind of do it in that order. But this is the time of year to be doing it. And with our standard size dairy goats, often we don't have late fall fresheners. But with our miniature breed 'Nigerian dwarf', we do. So it's even worked out with winter milk and commercial herds, and that's why we consider the lactation year starting October 1st.

Deborah Niemann 7:53
Okay. And then in terms of like finding a tester and getting your scale- getting your scale certified. Do you have any tips on that?

Lisa Shepard 8:02
Yeah. Again, you want to work with what you're going to call your 'local association'. And local is a loose term. So my local association, you know, I'm involved in two actually. So I have a local- very local association here in New Mexico. But I also consider a local association of mine to be in California. There are many people who test with a university in Oklahoma. Langston. And they can be anywhere in the country. So local is just really meaning the one you're going to use, the one you're going to consider your partner. So talking with them to get that set up, to find where there's listings, resources, and I do have a resource list and I can get that to you. I know that the ADGA website has them. I'm sure that AGS and Miniature Goat Registry, they also have those that they work with. But there are many throughout the country, and you find your local association. And they're the ones that are going to help you know what lab you're going to use, what record center you're going to have your records processed with. And they may be able to help you with testers.

Lisa Shepard 9:13
Now, one of the things that Facebook has been very good about is finding testers. And I believe there is a Facebook group that's designed to like, you know, can you test in my area? I don't know that that's the name, but something like that. So, you know, that kind of networking, to find testers. ADGA in the past has maintained, I don't know that it's quite current anymore, but they do have listings of those herds that are on test. So you can kind of find that. There are some other platforms and Facebook with DHIR, both registries or all the registries, I think, have something that can be helpful. However, as far as the actual information, I don't consider Facebook the best resource on that. I consider going to your association manager and working with somebody who is also testing in that association.

Deborah Niemann 10:04
One of the things that I remember some people talking about doing is circle testing, where a group of people get together to test each other's herds. Can you explain how that works?

Lisa Shepard 10:17
Yeah, that gets into one of the next things that you're going to choose when you're working with your association is, how are you going to set up your testing situation? And so, there are several ways. And circle testing, sometimes called 'group testing', is one way. Just having your own tester is another way. And even doing it as an owner sampler is yet another way to do it. So those are kind of your scenarios. You either have a one-on-one tester, a group, which is three or more herds, and then owner sampler, which is just on your own. Now, the group testing, and the testing that is one-on-one with the tester, then have a subset of plans that you can use. So their registries recognize some plans as part of their suite of programs that they recognize. One of the most intense is called test type 20. That's a one-on-one with a tester, and they come twice a day on test day. Consider test day being roughly once a month for 10 months. The group testing can have that, too. So you can- in a group of people, you can have different plans in your group, but someone could elect to have the test type 20, which is two times a day. 

Lisa Shepard 11:40
There's also the O2 plan, which is the tester comes once a day, they alternate between the morning and the evening, then the owner takes the other milking. So most herds milk twice a day. So the owner would take the weights on one of the milkings and then the tester would come in on the other milking and take the weights and collect the sample. And then they would alternate doing that morning and evening each month. And in a group, you can do that, too. 

Lisa Shepard 12:10
Now owner sampler, they only can do it one way. They have to test morning and evening. And yes, I know many people are going to ask, "well, what about once a day testing?" You can do that, but you have to consider that you're really twice a day testing with one of the tests having no milk. So you kind of consider it that way. The DHI system only goes down to '2x' milking, two times a day milking. They don't have a once a day plan. So you can do that. So in your groups, you can mix and match your plans. It's usually better to have a group that has decided on using the same plan. It's also nice in a group for them to roughly be about the same size herd. Groups fail when there's a herd with 120 goats and another herd with two goats. The, you know, the time becomes too extensive for that to really work out. So having some kind of similar goals as far as your test plan and some similar characteristics as far as your herd can help it be a successful group.

Deborah Niemann 13:08
OK. And then on the group testing, the way that that works is like if you have three people: person A tests herd B, person B tests herd C and then herd C tests herd A, right?

Lisa Shepard 13.22
Back to A, yeah, right. Then the next month you shift over. So, you know, so you're you're actually just testing two herds yourself if you're in a group of three and you're going to alternate between one and the other. And most of the time that works, you know, does it have to be strictly adhered to if you have a problem? You know, it can work still and it doesn't throw the test out or anything like that. But we have a lot of groups and there have been some groups that have gone on for years and have worked out very well. But it can change. And, you know, somebody you might have a group of three and you think everything's going fine and you're all testing and, you know, moving through your circle and that kind of thing. And then someone decides to sell out or they move, you know, and all of a sudden you find yourself with two people. Two people cannot just be a group. So you cannot- That's called reciprocal testing. That's not allowed. So I can't test you and you can't test me. That doesn't work that way. Now, I could be- if I were your regular supervisor and you didn't test me at all, I could test you.

Deborah Niemann 14:29
OK. And in those situations, like the group test and also an owner sampler, the test, like everybody has to be certified as a milk tester, right?

Lisa Shepard 14:38
That's partly with your association. We strongly recommend that everybody go through the training because there's a lot to learn. And it's a good idea that your tester has gone through the training, that you even as an owner sampler have gone through the training. But your local association is the one that approves whether somebody can be your tester or not. And some of them are more stringent than others as far as requirements. So that's another thing, you know, that you talk with your local association, and if you don't really- if it doesn't work out, you don't have to pick the one that's closest to you. You can find another association that says, well, you know, where our rules work like this. And you might find that that works out better for you. So it's one of the questions to ask when you're getting on test and looking for a group to work with.

Deborah Niemann 15:30
Yeah, I remember when I was getting started, the lab that was closest to me did not have any way to certify people as testers, and they were going to charge me like hundreds of dollars to send a tester to my farm. So it was kind of like, OK, I'm not going to be using this lab.

Lisa Shepard 15:48
Right. And at that point, back in 2011, there was a different setup than there is now. And there was an umbrella organization that did offer some online tester training. That has changed and so finding those organizations that do offer reasonable tester-training for great prices- here in my small roadrunner association, we do a training. We do it by Zoom and we do it every January or February. And that's perfectly acceptable, as long as you adhere to the criteria of keeping track of who attends the training, you know, what were the topics covered and that kind of thing and keep those records. This is a record keeping program. At all levels. So your association is keeping records, your record center- that's why they're named that. They're keeping records. You're keeping records yourself at the farm and all the accuracy of all those records are what contribute to meaningful information at the end of the lactation.

Deborah Niemann 16:56
Okay. And then like you said, a lot of people will do this because they want milk stars. So how exactly do the does earn their milk stars?

Lisa Shepard 17:03
Yeah. Okay. Now, the different plans that I was describing before have some different requirements as far as validating the records for use in the awards programs. So the test type 20, that intense one that I was talking about where the tester comes twice a day. You don't need to have a third party verification test. Which is somebody other than your routine tester coming to do a test on your system that's independent of your usual tester. And that is a requirement of- a verification test is actually something that's set up through the national umbrella, and then the registries adopt certain criteria in order to use those. So each registry may have different criteria. And I'll talk a little bit about just ADGA. So the 20 only requires a verification test if you're going to go for the really elite award, which is the top 10 breed leader, highest production in the country for the year kind of animal. That requires an individual type of test. But the others, the O2 and the owner sampler, they require a whole herd verification test where you have somebody come in that then tests the herd independent of your regular tester in combination. So the verification test is one of the criteria towards earning the milk star. The 20 doesn't need it to earn the milk star. The others do have to have the verification test. 

Lisa Shepard 18:30
The owner sampler goes a little bit further because there are really two kinds of stars, at least in ADGA. There's the one that we call the SG star. And that's based upon a one day test or relative information. Owner sampler that doesn't meet certain criteria. Then we have the advanced registry star. And that's for people who are really on production testing. That's the usual plan that they want to do. And for owner sampler, we ask that there's a minimum of eight tests over 240 days. So there's enough information, owner sampler, which isn't being seen by anybody really except the owner. That's why there's a bit more information that we would like to have in order to award that milk star. Meeting all those criteria then, the final criteria is that there's a minimum amount that the does have to produce, either in milk volume or in butterfat or protein. So by age, up from two years old to five, it's broken down in increments. It's in the guidebooks of the associations, what those levels are. But they have to meet that level and then have to meet the characteristics required in your test plan.

Deborah Niemann 19:48
Okay. And then bucks can also get stars. Can you talk about how a buck gets a milk star?

Lisa Shepard 19:55
Sure. There's many paths to a buck getting a star, but it's based upon their daughter's milking. And so they can be either milking in the advanced registry system or in the star system. But there's a number of various convoluted paths to a buck getting a star. There's even ways for does to get a star who've never been on test themselves. And that's through progeny. So does can have daughters also, just like, you know, bucks where they were never on test themselves, but they have enough information and they meet the requirements from progeny information, daughter information, and son information.

Deborah Niemann 20:32
Okay. And then what about the pluses for the bucks?

Lisa Shepard 20:37
The pluses start getting involved with the advanced registry and star. So it's the combinations of those and how many daughters, that kind of thing. There's many routes to getting stars and pluses. And so it gets a little bit confusing. They're all laid out in- at least in the ADGA guidebook, what those mean. And so a plus would be that a buck got it in a certain manner. The second plus would be that they got it in a different manner. So it might be sons that had daughters instead of direct daughters themselves. So all those stars are kind of convoluted, but we hope that programming sorts all that out and they get awarded correctly. It generally takes- any combination is usually at least three animals. Distinct animals, whether there's daughters or daughters and sons. So there needs to be enough relative information, and that goes for genetic evaluations too. There has to be enough animals in order for a buck to receive a genetic evaluation, which is five daughters who have production testing information.

Deborah Niemann 21:41
Okay. Is there anything that you see that trips people up in milk testing commonly?

Lisa Shepard 21:48
Yeah, a lot. Actually, it's part of that getting set up business. So I think the things that trip people up a lot is getting into it too quickly. Especially like, "I just bought a goat and I'm going to go and test". I'm not sure that that's the best thing. Kind of ease into it a little bit more than that. Do the gateway, do the one day milk test. I call that a gateway program and getting involved. Which is just a snapshot of a single day of their information. It goes through the lab, just like the rest, but it doesn't go anywhere else. It can't get an award. The SG award, as I told you about earlier, but that's one thing that trips up. High expectations. "Oh, I'm going to do this." You know, milk testing really does require quite a commitment to do it correctly and to get the best information. It means you have to be home. You have to be willing to be tested once a month or thereabouts. There's really no set requirement, but on a routine basis you want to do that. You know, it requires that you're keeping those records. It requires that you've gone to your tester training and that you work with your association. So those expectations. A lot of people go on owner sampler, never having been on test before. That's a difficult one too, because unless you have a really good mentor, I don't, advise that. Once you know what you're doing, owner sampler is a great program, but not for the person just starting out.

Lisa Shepard 23:24
The other part is getting that paperwork set up and getting the IDs correct. And then lastly, the thing that really trips people up is that they get the records back from the record center and they never look at them, and mistakes get made, and they never get corrected or they're never noticed. And then at the end of lactation, they say, how come my doe didn't get her star? Or how come this or, you know, whatever. Well, there's things that have to be corrected along the way and you didn't notice it. So, reading your records, looking at your records afterwards, making sure that there haven't been typos, that kind of thing. I think that's one of the things that I see the most is that you go through the test and you get your star and you get a huge amount of information from the record center and it's a bit overwhelming. So people just put it in an envelope and put it in the folder and don't look at it. And they probably should have.

Deborah Niemann 24:20
Wow. That is- I never would have thought of that because I was so obsessed with the reports every month. You know, that was back when they still mailed them. And I would just, I knew like how many days it took for the milk to get to the lab and, you know, and I would just be watching the mailbox like a hawk waiting for those reports.

Lisa Shepard 24:38
Right. Well, you're unique. You're probably 10% of you. So the others say, oh, here's the envelope, put it in the file cabinet. So, or they would notice that somehow their Toggenburg just became a Nubian, you know, in their paperwork. So when I get the records in uploading for use at ADGA, there's about a 20% error rate in the records. Most of it is ID. I mean, people will get told your animal's a buck and they never have noticed that. So it's, you know, garbage in, garbage out kind of thing.

Deborah Niemann 25:15
Yeah. Wow. That is really good to know. Um, is there anything else that people need to know before they get started milk testing?

Lisa Shepard 25:24
Yeah. I just kind of wanted to do the roles a little bit. I've been throwing around a bunch of names and organizations and, uh, talk about the data flow a little bit as to how that works, because I think that sometimes people find that this is a little bit of a mystery and it really isn't. It's pretty clear as to how the program works, but, um, we're collecting data at your farm. We're collecting it. The tester's collecting it for you. And at that point, you've already had a- probably a relationship with your registry, and your association. So that data is going to your dairy herd improvement association. Your local association that I've talked about. They're responsible for the billing, for your tester, for getting the lab results to you. They may have a lab that they work with, but they may also have their own lab. So that's their responsibility. And then that information is going to go back to you, but they are also going to send that on to the record centers that we're talking about. There's only four of them in the United States. And most of the people are using either DRMS or Amelicor. Those are the two big ones. One's kind of based in North Carolina and Iowa and Amelicor is based in Utah. But they service records all over the country. That record center then gives that information back to you, and you said- some people still get mailed reports. Um, some people get them online. The record center sends it back to the association and the record center also sends it on to what we call the council on dairy cattle breeding. This used to be USDA back in 2011. But now it's a private organization that houses that data and does the genetic evaluations and the record center is sending it to them.

Lisa Shepard 27:11
So you see a lot of people talking about their CDCB records and that kind of thing. CDCB is not designed to give records to you. They're designed to give records back to your record center and talk with them about what records are going to be used in genetic evaluations. So your ultimate information is really coming from your record center to you. Um, CDCB is transparent for goats and you can see that, but it doesn't necessarily mirror exactly what you're going to get back from your record center, which is the ultimate information that ultimately is used at ADGA as well. So that's kind of how all that works. And in ADGA, we send pedigree information also to CDCB so that they match up all that information with the pedigree information that we give them. And then the information that the breeder-producer has given to their DHIA for, you know, initiating their milk records, those get matched up. That's how all that works. So all these organizations are kind of working together. Uh, as far as getting this done. And so understanding what each one does can be very helpful in terms of, if you do have a problem, you know, where do you go? So who do you talk to first?

Deborah Niemann 28:27
Right. Yeah. Um, could you talk a little bit about the one day test and how somebody- cause that is definitely- I love what you said about that being kind of like a gateway thing, because really you just kind of show up somewhere and milk your goat. Um, so could you talk a little bit about how those work and where people can find them.

Lisa Shepard 28:47
Yeah. Oftentimes they're associated with shows. Uh, the show committee will decide to do one alongside a show, but they can also be on farms and you can host one yourself and you set it up through the registry. This is not done through the association that I was talking about, but it may use their lab. So it's always nice to let them know that you're doing it too. So they don't get surprised. I know, I always tell them when I'm doing one as a tester and let them know. But you set it up with your registry. Uh, you select a date. If you're not using it for a verification test, which can be done, you can select which animals that you want to do, unlike regular testing, where you have to do all animals that are milking of a certain breed. You can select them, if it's the one day test. Now, if it's the verification test, that's not true because you can substitute a one day. Um, so it's three milkings. You have a milk out and then you are starting a 24 hour clock and you do two weights and two samplings. You send that off to the lab and there's a calculation that's done, and if it meets certain requirements, for days in milk, the milk production volume, and then the fat is taken into account and there's a calculation involved. And if you meet that certain minimum of points, then you can get the milk star. In some ways it's harder to get the milk star on a one day test. Especially if the doe is very early in her lactation or late in her lactation, because they may be not producing enough milk at that time, or they don't have enough days in milk. And as far as the calculation to kind of get them over the edge. So it can be- it's a little bit of a balance between those three things: the butterfat, the volume and the days in milk. So generally speaking, if you had a standard size goat, 10 pounds, at a hundred days in milk with 4% butterfat, would earn you a star. So you can use that as the benchmark and then, you know, say, well, my doe milk's way more than 10 pounds so I don't need that hundred days in milk. So, you know, that's kind of how that can be worked out.

Deborah Niemann 31:01
Okay. Um, there's a question in the chat from one of the Goats365 members who only has two goats in her backyard that she's milking and she would like to occasionally know what her butterfat and protein is and stuff. It sounds like a one-day milk test would be a really good option for her.

Lisa Shepard 31:18
That would be one option. The other option is to do none of that and just call a lab up and ask, "What does it cost for me to get my samples tested?" And you can do that. So, um, what I was saying before, the DHIR is what's popular in dairy goats using a registry. But DHI by itself can be done without a registry. Sometimes people decide to do it without involving the registry. Sometimes people just want to do it, and send it in and say- I've done it for 4Her's, you know, "Let's do a project here. Let's go, you know, see what your butterfat is". Milk your goats, get some sample vials, work with your lab, find out what it costs. And usually you can work something up.

Deborah Niemann 31:59
Yeah. That sounds great. Okay.

Lisa Shepard 32:02
Yeah. And about your cheese making. Yeah. Uh, yeah. Cause you know, knowing the protein and the butterfat can be real important. 

Deborah Niemann 32:09
Yeah, exactly. I know we- when we were on test, that was the other thing too, because my husband is an engineer. And so he also loved reading the reports and seeing how the butterfat correlated with the amount of milk- or the amount of cheese that he was able to make. He would always put notes on the cheese that he made on test day to say that this was tested. And so then he would go back to his cheese journal and add all of the data that came back from the lab, so he would know exactly how much butterfat. And so even though we're not on test anymore, he kind of gets an idea of where our butterfat is just from all that historical data that he had collected when we were on test.

Lisa Shepard 32:51
Right, right. No, and it can be real important in a management situation. I recall working with a, not a large dairy, maybe 50 does or so. Cause many of us, we have, you know- the average size DHI I heard is 11 goats. And so 11 goats, most of us can keep track of 11 goats. Well, maybe not as good as I used to, but I used to be able to. But 50 goats starts, you know, to become a little bit challenging to know what each goat is doing. And they were a little worried about their production and not meeting their goals for the creamery that they were wanting to sell to. And so they went on test and they were astounded to find out that some of their goats- these are standard size goats were milking two pounds a day. So just having that kind of management. And so they got rid of the two pound milkers. They changed them for eight pound milkers. And all of a sudden they didn't have to worry about meeting their creamery goals. Plus they are- they could reduce the number of animals, the number of feet trimmed and all that kind of thing. So there was a lot to be said. So that can be very important when you're getting up into the numbers and it's hard to keep track of the individual. 

Deborah Niemann 33:56
Yeah, exactly. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. Do you have any final tips for people who want to test?

Lisa Shepard 34:04
Well, I think, you know, the best thing- I think this is great that you're doing it now, because as far as success for a brand new herd, getting on tasks is finding a mentor or finding your tester. And then one of the things that I always recommend is don't wait to have your paperwork done on your first test day, go to the person's house, sit down at the kitchen table, get all the stuff done without worrying about the goats yelling to be milked. You know, just get it all set up ahead of time, kind of plan it out. And then that makes test day go really well, because test day, and there's some little videos, I'll send the resource to the videos on test day basics. The test day can be very fun. Especially if you've gotten all the paperwork all straightened out and it's all ready, all you have to do is, you know, milk your goats and let the tester or you fill out the pounds and take the sample. And then- and like you say, then kind of wait with excitement as to when those records come in and what was happening. Um, but that's kind of the- what I have found to be most successful is take a time away from the barn to get set up with your tester or with your mentor, if you're doing owner sampler- or however you're doing it. And be ready for test day without that kind of distraction.

Deborah Niemann 35:27
Great. That's a wonderful tip. Thank you so much. Um, I think people are going to find this so helpful if they've been thinking about milk testing. This has got a lot of really great information in here, which is no surprise because you've been doing this practically forever. So thank you for joining us.

Lisa Shepard 35:43
Well, thank you. And like I said, um, please be sure and let people know I'm always willing to help people, with their questions and that kind of thing. And my email and is widely known and shared. So it's fine.

Deborah Niemann 36:01
Yes. And we will put all your contact information and links in the show notes so that people can get links to some of the things you were talking about also.

Lisa Shepard 36:08
Yes. I'll get that together for you. Yeah.

Deborah Niemann 36:11
And that's it for today's show. If you haven't already done so be sure to hit the subscribe button so that you don't miss any episodes. To see show notes you can always visit ForTheLoveOf, and you can follow us on Facebook at See you again next time. Bye for now!