Udderly Empty is What You Are Looking For

Something that is rarely talked about in the online goat world is an empty udder. All the chatter is about how full it is but in actuality how empty it is before filling helps determine how much milk a doe produces. Of course you want a capacious udder. Now that’s a word you don’t hear often, capacious, but it is used frequently in the show ring. What the judge is saying is that you want the udder to be LARGE in comparison to the size of the doe. But there is more to it than that.

You want the udder to be udderly empty after milking. Okay, that was a bad. What I should have said was, you want the bag to shrink up to very small in comparison to when it is full which equates to super wrinkly. Of course there is a certain amount of flesh in the upper segment that is necessary to produce milk but it should take up only a small space in comparison to the over all size of the udder.

In our family our goats are  part of our home-made food store. Imagine if you took a large bag to the grocery store but you first slipped in non-food items. Your child’s favorite small stuff animal to keep them occupied, your purse, your cell phone etc. and the more you slip in the less food items you will be able to put inside and bring home.  Do you really need everything you put in? Probably not and does with lots of meaty flesh are carrying unnecessary baggage too.


Chicory had a pretty udder but alas it was too beefy to excel. She did milk out fairly well for a Nubian with between 3/4ths to almost a gallon a milking.

Not only are you bringing less milk home but you’re paying more for it too. Less capacity due in part to size of udder and the size of “meaty” or “beefy” flesh at the upper section means an economic price hike.

Let me put it another way. Goats of the same size consume approximately the same amount of food which means the bulk of your feed costs are to maintain their body weight.  A goat that produces heavier will of course eat a bit more but the increased cost is minimal.  So the question becomes  why are we pay more for milk than we have to?

What I’ve found is we get too emotional about saving every goat out there when in reality what we are doing is fostering problems. Remember, great goats have great personalities, will give you more milk, more years of service, less disease issues, and feed more kids even if those kids are you. It just makes sense.


I’m going to show off Comedy a bit. We can take no credit for conformation as we only purchased her last spring but she is a great example to help instruct. The size of this udder is deceiving in the photo because of Comedy’s super long fan of hair surrounding it but you can get an idea of its proportion by just how wide she is standing. Keep in mind that I call this girl “The Tank” because of how broad she is built. Last year at freshening with her previous owner she milked 11 pounds twice a day. A gallon of milk weighs 8 pounds. She was on the Star program I’m sure with her milking’s charted and sent in. Her udder may not be perfect but it is the strongest feature of hers and helped greatly in winning her a “Permanent Champion” certificate from the National Dairy Goat Association show ring.

When a doe is judged in the show ring for “Best Udder” she is first viewed with the udder filled to capacity and then the owner is asked to milk her out and re-enter the  ring where her udder is judged empty. The examiner is  looking for a soft, supple texture as this equates to skin that is elastic and stretches more efficiently. Also an udder that shrinks to a very small size in comparison to when it is full.  There is much more in which she is looking for such as udder attachment; extended fore udder; suspensory ligament, escutcheon; teat size, placement, and shape too but that would just make this post rattle on and on so let’s stick with empty udder today.

On a conformation score card the udder is 50% of the total points. After all isn’t a dairy goat simply a milk bucket on legs?


So remember two things:

  • Size of udder does count for a small bag no matter how empty it is can not hold the magnitude that a large udder can.


  • You want the udder to shrink to far smaller than it is when full. You don’t have to measure, it will be super wrinkly and the size difference will be “Captain Obvious”.

How would you score your goat? Take a look the next time you milk and create your own score card.

You will also like the following blog posts.

To Milk or Not to Milk When Kids are Nursing?

Baby Goat Pictures

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