Milk Stars- what are they and why do they matter? (MDGA version)
In the dairy goat world, milk stars are very important. They are a great way to know that you are getting a good quality dairy goat, to be able to charge more for your goats and to build your herd up as a reputable herd. Since I breed Mini-Nubians, I focus on the Miniature Dairy Goat Association (MDGA) and how they determine production awards.
(There is also The Miniature Goat Registry (TMGR) but this blog post will focus on MDGA and there will be another one that focuses on TMGR at a later date)
There are two types of tests that you can do. One is done in one day and the other one is done over 305 days (with monthly testing). You can see my post about our one day test if you click here.
It's very important to remember that milk genetics come from the sire's side, too. A buck can get a production award from his parents or from his offspring- so keep your eyes open for stars on his side, too. Many people seem to focus on the dams side for milk lines but they are both of equal importance, if you ask me!
Here are the stars that your goats can earn:
*P for does.
*B and +B for bucks.
This is the foundation for the milk star program. Things can get more in-depth from here. For example, you put your doe on milk test and she earns her milk star (we will call her "Jane Doe" for this blog 😂) she would be "Jane Doe *P". If her dam earns her milk star, this would add to her own milk star and she would now be "Jane Doe 2*P". If any of her daughters get their stars, she will earn another star for each of the daughters who star. So if she has a star, her dam has a star and 3 of her daughters have stars, she will be "Jane Doe 5*P"!
Bucks can also earn a milk award from their kids. This shows as a plus (+) on their registries. So your buck with a milk star would be "Buck *B" and if 3 of his daughters earned their milk stars (they have to be from different dams) OR two +who earn their milk stars, OR two *daughters and one son who all earn their stars then he would become "Buck +*B".
This is why it is helpful to have as many breeders testing as possible. You very well may not be able to keep 3 daughters (or 2 daughters and a son) from your buck (I know that I personally do not have this luxery). But if you sell them to farms who are milk testing, your buck can still get his star. And your does can gain more and more stars if you sell to milk testing farms. The benefits are so great but many people are scared or unfamiliar with milk testing (like we all were at one point). It's so important to be available to your buyers so that you can help inform them of these great things. Sometimes planting a quick seed can go a long way.
Here is the breakdown from MDGA's website for those of us who like to see things laid out clearly:
Suffixes: *P = Awarded to a doe that has been tested for milk ability and has successfully produced the required amount of milk or butter fat poundage.
*B (star buck) = A buck that has had its dam, sire, and/or sire’s dam earn a production star (*P).
+B (plus buck) = A buck that has three *P daughters out of three different dams, OR two +B sons, OR two *P daughters and one +B son.
++B (two plus buck) = A buck that has three *P daughters out of three different dams and two +B sons.
+*B (plus star buck) = A buck that has had its dam, sire, and/or sire’s dam earn a production star (*P) AND has three *P daughters out of three different dams, OR two +B sons, OR two *P daughters and one +B son.