How to Milk Goats

Learning to milk dairy goats is fundamental for raising goats for milk. When our dairy goats freshen (right after they give birth and start producing milk), we milk them twice a day. After several months you can decrease their milking to just once a day in the morning, or you can continue to milk them twice a day.

After the doe delivers her kids, don't milk her out all the way the first two times. The 3rd milking, milk her all the way out. She will give colostrum for the first 24-36 hours, then the milk will come in. Save half of the first days' colostrum, or about 16 ounces, for next year and freeze it in a ziplock baggie or in a plastic yogurt container.
The colostrum will stay good in the freezer for up to two years.

Some of our goats are kickers, so we tie their lower legs to the milking stand (goat stanchion). The strings (baler twine) that wrap the alfalfa and straw bales are great to wrap around their legs and through the holes on the milk stand. Wipe your hands with baby wipes. We purchase our baby wipes at Costco since we use so many of them. Then we use dairy wipes to wash her udder. First clean her teats with the dairy wipes, then clean her udder with it. We buy paper towels at Costco, and dry her teats and udder with a paper towel. Then we squirt 3 squirts of milk into a strip cup to make sure the milk doesn't look lumpy which could reveal a case of mastitis. We then milk her by squeezing the teats gently. You can squeeze one at a time, or both at the same time. Be gentle milking her teats, as you could damage her teats if you are too rough. When no more milk comes out, gently massage her udder, then milk the teats again. Massage the udder again, and milk the teats until no more milk comes out. Be very gentle massaging the udder so that you don't damage the udder.

When no more milk comes out, spray her teats with Fight Bac, making sure to cover the entire area where the milk comes out of the teat so no bacteria can get in her teat which would cause mastitis. Instead of the Fight Bac, you can use a teat dip concentrate if you choose to. You can buy 3 oz. Dixie cups at Costco and dilute the teat dip concentrate as indicated on the bottle into a canning jar to use over several days. Pour some into a Dixie cup and dip each teat in the cup. Throw away the cup with the used teat dip after you are done with that goat, and then fill another one for the next doe to make sure not to cross contaminate a doe if one happens to have bad bacteria they might pass on. Then rub an udder balm on the udder to prevent chapping. Shaving their udders periodically prevents unwanted hairs from falling into the milking bucket. We use a stainless steel milking bucket. Make sure you don't forget to untie your goat's legs before you open the latch on the stanchion or they could break their legs. It is a better idea not to tie down their legs, but if you have a very ornery goat, you may have to resort to tying its legs to the stand so it won't kick the bucket and milk won't splash all over you and the milk room.

After milking one goat, you can take the milk directly to the house and strain it with a stainless steel milk strainer, using a milk filter. The milk is strained into a sanitized canning jar which should be on the high setting of the dishwasher. We put a sanitized lid on the jar and put it in the freezer for at least 45 minutes. This rapidly cools the milk, leaving it with no goaty flavor and slows down bacterial growth. We then go back to the barn and milk the second doe. Sometimes before we milk the goats, we put an ice block in the ice chest in the milk room and after we milk the first goat, we put the milking bucket with the lid on inside the ice chest while we milk the second goat.

Some people use milking machines to milk their goats. This is especially useful if you have a lot of goats.  Another good reason to use a milking machine is to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. While we milk our does, we have them eat their ration of concentrate (grain), and when they finish their grain, we give them a handful of black sunflower seeds.

Flies can be a signficant problem in the barn and in the milking room. They can be incredibly annoying as they endlessly buzz all around driving you mad. They can land on the milking bucket, and they may even land in the milk itself in which case you have to throw all of the milk away or feed it to your other animals. In our barn next to our milk room, we have a Sticky-Roll Deluxe which is an amazingly effective way to keep the fly population down in the barn. We have seen a huge decline in flies since we started using the Sticky-Roll.

While milking goats can be relaxing, it sometimes gets monotonous. We have a table set up at the foot of the milk stand with a book stand on it so we can read while we milk the goats. We sometimes even watch learning DVDs about miscellaneous subjects while we do the milking. A radio or music CD player is also nice to listen to while milking, and the goats seem to like soft, gentle music.

After you milk your goats, make sure you sanitize everything, either in the dishwasher or with boiling water. After coming out of the dishwasher, the stainless steel milking bucket is placed upside down on a stainless steel drying rack that is used only for sanitary goat equipment. Once sanitized, the lids are kept on the drying rack as well. A separate stainless steel milk bucket is used for each of our goats, but if you have lots of goats to milk, that would be impractical.

We drink our goat milk raw because it is extremely healthy. However, some people are uncomfortable drinking raw milk, so they choose to pasteurize their milk. To pasteurize milk, the milk is heated either to 63 degrees C (145 degrees F) for 30 minutes or 72 degrees C (161 degrees F) for 15 seconds. After the heating is finished, the milk should be quickly cooled to a refrigerator temperature. The rapid temperature change will successfully kill about 95% of all of the bacteria in the milk, If you choose to pasteurize your milk, you can do it the old-fashioned way on the stove, or you can do it easier with a milk pasteurizer.

To dry off your doe (stop her from producing milk), start by slowly reducing the amount of grain you feed her. If you milk her twice a day, one day milk her only in the morning, then the next day milk her morning and night. Do this for a few days, and then cut out the night time feeding altogether. Each morning milk her out a little less each day, continuing to reduce the amount of grain. She will produce less and less, and then you can just quit milking her.

Essential goat dairy equipment:

Goat milking stanchion
Stainless steel milking bucket with lid
Dairy wipes
Baby wipes
Strip cup
Fight Bac or teat dip concentrate
Udder balm
Stainless steel milk strainer
Milk filters
Paper towels

Optional goat milking equipment:

Portable milking machine



 

“Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds.”  (Proverbs 27:23)

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