Go(a)t Milk? Part III-The Fun Stuff

By Kassie DwyerEden Farm, Athens, ME

You’re now invested in milking your goat.  You have all your supplies, you can’t wait to begin this new adventure.  So….where do you start?

Before you begin milking, sweep off your stand and the surrounding area.  You will want to brush your doe off, too, especially the belly/udder area.  Keeping the udder and underbelly clipped can help a lot with debris management.

Stick some food in front of your goat, especially if she is a new milker.  It helps keep them occupied while you complete the task at hand.  Most people who milk feed their goat’s grain on the stand.  You can even start training your girl to the stand a few weeks in advance by feeding her on the stand daily.

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                Your first step will be to squirt a few splashes of milk from each teat into your strip cup.  This is a plastic or metal cup with a strainer on the top.  This allows you to inspect the milk for any inconsistencies or signs of infection, like chunks or clots.  Next, dip your goat’s teats completely with sanitizing dip.  There are several types available, such as iodine and chlorhexidine, and you can also purchase a spray instead.  After the “lag time” specified by the dip manufacturer (I wait 30 seconds), wipe your goat’s teats dry with a paper towel and make sure they are clean.  If not, you can dip and wipe again.  Now, it’s time for the actual milking!

Milking machines for goats are available, but if you are just milking a few on the homestead, you are probably hand milking.  There are some really helpful videos on YouTube if you are just starting out hand milking.  It is not like milking a cow, it is a totally different technique that can take some getting used to.  Generally, you use 2 fingers (thumb and index) and bring them together, in a squeezing motion near the top of the teat (don’t pull!) Your hands may be sore for the first few days of milking.  I feel like I should be using one of those hand grip strengtheners to train before kidding time.   Once you get the hang of it through, it will take you mere minutes to milk out! When you think you are finished, you will want to gently bump upwards on the udder and wait a moment.  Then, resume milking and you will likely get a little more milk.  You will notice kids doing this when they nurse.  You will know that your goat is completely milked out when the udder is soft and the area above the teats is shrunken and empty.  Go by feel more than appearance.

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Diamond’s udder pre-milking

 

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Diamond’s udder post-milking

 

When you have completed your milking, dip the goat’s teats again.  You can leave this dip on, but if you are dam raising kids, you will want to wipe it off after the set lag time.

See, wasn’t that easy? You probably won’t be thinking so after your first few days of milking, but again, I promise it gets better! Having fresh dairy for just minutes of effort each day is a value beyond measure.

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