Milking a goat really isn’t too hard, although it does take some practice and the whole process from start to finish can be a little time consuming. I like to keep my milking routine simple and use basic supplies because the less fancy the supplies, the faster and easier they are to clean, which means milking will go that much faster. When I first started, I had a really hard time milking by hand so I invested in a hand milker like to this:
You can find them at Dansha Farms.
While it worked great at first, over time it started causing some swelling on the goats’ teats. It’s ok for occasional use, but if you want to use a machine for daily use, I would recommend using a pulse milking machine. The down side to those machines is they can be expensive and can take some time to clean. Unless you milk several does, it’s almost quicker and easier to milk by hand. Since I only milk one, I decided that I had better learn how to milk by hand since it was the cheapest option.
For the mornings I want to milk, I separate the doe and kids at night before. I like leaving the kids on the doe throughout the majority of the milking season so I don’t have to milk every day. I usually keep the kids on the doe until late summer or early fall. Once they go to their new homes, I milk every day until late fall, when I dry up the doe for winter. On the days I don’t milk, I just leave the doe out with the kids and they take care of the milking. My family doesn’t drink a lot of milk, so I aim to milk 4 or 5 times a week, which gives us just the amount we use.
In the morning when I open the barn, I’m greeted by Nutmeg, who is very anxious to be milked so she can go join the others in the pasture.
I turn her loose and she runs to the milk room and jumps up on the stand.
Next I put the hobbles on her. She stands very good while milking so I could skip this step, but there’s been a few times where she stomped her foot and ended up stepping in the milk pail. So I do this to ensure that doesn’t happen again. Helpful tip: At this point, you want to make a special note to yourself to remember to take these off before turning her loose. Otherwise she’ll be hopping around the barn like a crazy jack rabbit and you’ll have one heck of a time trying to get them off… not that I’ve ever had any experience with that. 😉
Now it’s time to wipe her teats down. I make a solution by filling a quart jar with water, adding few drops of the non-concentrated Dawn dish washing liquid and a teaspoon of Clorox. I then make wipes by adding that solution to paper towels. After wiping down her udder and teats, I squeeze out a little milk from eat teat to clear out any dirt or bacteria that might be in them.
After that, I give her some feed and start milking. To milk, with my thumb and first finger, I tightly grab the teat a couple inches into the udder so the milk is trapped in the teat. Then I bring my fingers and palm together while holding my thumb and first finger tight and squeeze the milk out. I keep repeating this until her udder is empty.
She usually finishes her feed at about the same time I finish milking. Once her dish is empty, she throws it on the floor, then gives me that, “don’t forget to take the hobbles off” look.
Right after milking, I pour the milk into a jar and place it in a pitcher of ice water so it can chill down. Sometimes the milk can have a slight goaty after taste, but just from my short experience with milking, I’ve learned the key to great tasting is to cool it down as soon and as fast as possible. I turn Nutmeg loose with the rest of the heard and finish up the rest of the chores while the milk continues to chill.
Once I get back to the house, I strain the milk into a clean jar and store it in the refrigerator. I use a fine mesh strainer that I line with a square milk filter which works really well and is cheaper than buying a special milk strainer.
That pretty much sums up my milking routine. Like I said before, I’m still pretty new to all this so as I learn more and gain more experience I’m sure I’ll change up my routine. What’s your milking routine like? Do you have any special tips that make milking easier?