Goats: How Do I Milk My Goat?

Reader Contribution by Janice Spaulding
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We are a
State of Maine licensed raw dairy, and the information contained in this post
is about how we do things. We are held to the same standards

on milk testing
that large corporations which process pasteurized cow milk are held to. With
that being said, we pass our milk tests with flying colors over and over again,
so we must be doing something very right!

A question
often asked is “how do I go about milking my goat”? The answer is not an easy
one to answer in writing, but I am going to try to make this process simple and
fun!

Many folks also
complain about hand and wrist pain along with sore backs from milking their
goats, and I will address this also.

First let’s talk
about sitting positions.How you sit
will most likely affect how you feel after you’ve milked. I have heard about or
seen in person so
many different ways of positioning yourself while milking.
One friend, while very pregnant, found the only position she was comfortable in,
was bending over the back of the goat and milking from behind! I didn’t
actually get to see her do this, but, I wish I had, what a visual!! I have seen
photos in National Geographic of goats being milked in other countries in this
fashion.

The two
positions that Ken and I use on our farm are sitting on the milk stand and
sitting
beside the milk stand.I like to
sit on the stand up close and personal to the goat I am milking. I find that with
this position, I am not stretching out my arms, thus, taking the pressure off
the muscles. Years ago, when working in an office I was diagnosed with carpal
tunnel, and was miserable.When I
stopped working, it went away.I thought
milking the goats would bring it back in a big way, but in the seven or so
years we’ve been hand milking, I can honestly say I have never had a sore
muscle from milking!

My husband,
Ken, sits on an overturned kitty litter bucket to milk and finds this position very
comfortable for him. When I tried to sit like he does, all I succeeded in doing
was filling my shirt sleeve with milk!

We use all
stainless steel milking equipment; my favorite milking pail has a nice turned
lip that I can rest my wrists on. Ken’s favorite pail has no lip at all. It
really is personal preference and if you can try different ones at someone’s
farm you can decide what is comfortable for you.

Now for hand
position: you cannot just grab the teat and squeeze.Doing
so will drive the milk back up into the
udder. We have found the best and most successful way is to place your hands on
the teat and, right where the teat meets the udder make a circle with your
thumb and forefinger. Squeeze this shut.In doing so, you will cause the milk to be trapped in the teat. Now,
close your fingers, middle then ring, and then baby fingers. Voila! Milk comes
out the orifice at the bottom of the teat. To get the hang of it you can
practice on a partially water filled balloon.

I will share
with you, our entire milking
routine. First, get the equipment ready. Put filters
in the strainers, and get your pans, bottles, and buckets prepared.

Secondly, I
fill the feed pans with the proper amount of grain. Remember, 1 pound of grain
per goat for maintenance plus 1 pound for every 3 to 4 pounds of milk they
produce. So, in other words, for a goat producing a gallon of milk per day (8.6
pounds per gallon) she should get approximately 3 pounds of grain per day divided
between the morning and evening milking.

Now, it’s
time to let the girls in…goats are extremely intelligent and quickly learn the
order they should come in! We have two milking stands, so two it is!

We clean
their teats with unscented baby wipes. (They absolutely without
a doubt have to
be unscented because the scent can easily transfer itself to the milk!) Then we
milk the goat until they seem empty.At
that point a little udder massage will cause the goat to let down any other
milk that she might be holding back. We finish milking until their teats are flaccid.
(Flat and dangly).Remember, supply and
demand.The more you demand, the more
they supply!

After
milking, we spray the very bottom of their teats with a product called Fight
Bac.This product is fantastic. It
causes the orifice of the teats to constrict and clamp shut allowing no
bacteria from the barn to sneak up into the teat.

The milk is
then weighed, and strained for the first time. During this first straining, it
is amazing how much foam gathers in the filter!

All of the
milk is poured into one container then that container goes to the milk
processing room where it is strained again. Almost no foam this time! Then the
milk is poured into sterile bottles and refrigerated. Our refrigerator is a
refrigerator only, no freezer. It is set at 38 degrees which if you set your
kitchen refrigerator at that temperature would freeze your veggies!
The milk
either goes into making cheese, or re-bottled for customers who wish to
purchase great raw milk.

Remember
when you are cleaning up to clean up under the rims, around the handles, and
scrub your funnel neck with a small brush!

If you want
to learn much more about goat husbandry, milking, raising goats for meat, or
fiber, Goat School is coming up quickly! Columbus Day weekend, October 6th
and 7th are the dates with a Soap Making and Cheese Making class
scheduled for Monday October 8th. We still have room, but will start
filling up fast as we get closer so get your registrations in now!

You can also
check out my books, “The Goat School Manual” and “Goat School, A Master Class
in Caprine Care and Cooking”.