Our Goat Milking Routine
Please handle and consume raw milk at your own risk.
It's late spring and for us, that means it's dairy season! Our Nubian does gave birth in February and the kids are old enough now that we can begin milking our girls.
We milk once a day because it's easier, because we don't need the extra milk, (in fact sometimes it becomes burdensome to process more than we collect already), and because the kids still benefit from the additional nursing throughout the day.
Our supply list:
milk filter funnel (our exact one isn't available anymore, but this one is similar)
bucket for washing
We milk once a day
Our milk routine begins at night. Around 9:00 pm, we separate the kids from Mom. We have a separate pen that we place them in. It's easier now to orchestrate everyone now that the kids are interested in grain. Grain is the goat keeper's best friend. They can't resist it, and it helps when you need to move your goats around, or get them to cooperate.
Every night, everyone gets grain, and fresh water and the hay and minerals topped off.
In the morning
Around 9:00 the next day I set up the milk funnel with a clean filter pad over a half gallon mason jar so it's ready for me when I come in from the barn.
Get the supplies together
I get a bowl with warm soapy water and two-white (bleach-able) rags ready to go out to the barn. This is used to clean the udders and teat area. I use a small amount of grease cutting soap like Dawn because it helps to cut through any grime or oils on the udder. It's also pretty gentle on the skin. (I use it to on my own skin) I also grab the milk pail from the hook on the wall where we store it.
When I get out to the barn I set the milking things down on a small table we keep near the stanchion. I also grab the strip cup from the shelf.
I fill the bucket on the stanchion with grain. Penelope, our first goat we milk will be waiting eagerly. She knows the milking order and she knows she's first.
I open the gate and let her out. She is happy to jump up on the stanchion and get to her grain. I close the stanchion yoke loosely around her neck.
Cleaning the teats
I begin by washing her teats and udder with the warm soapy water. I wash the teats first, then the upper part of the udder, turning the rag to a clean spot each time and not double dipping as this would soil the water for the next goat. I like to kind of massage her as I go checking for any lumps. This also helps her to let her milk down.
Then I milk 2 test squirts into the strip cup. The strip cup is a small cup with a filter. It helps to check for any clumps or irregularities that might be a sign of unhealthy udders.
The action of milking
Everything checks out so I milk her out. I set the strip cup aside, take the lid off the milk pail and place it under Penelope. To milk, I place my thumb and forefinger around the base of each teat. I squeeze these fingers together trapping the milk in the lower end of the teat. (not in a downward pulling action, just pinch off the milk). Then I use the rest of my fingers to press the milk out of the teat. Then I release my thumb and fore finger, allow more milk to flow down into the teat, pinch it off and press again.
I alternate teats back and forth until she is milked out. You'll know she's empty when her teats are limp and when you gentle massage the udder, no more milk comes down.
If the kids were completely weaned, I would then dip her teats in iodine. This protects bacteria from entering the teat until the wax cap forms again. But because the kids are still nursing, and I know they'll attempt to suckle as soon as I return her to the pen, I don't dip her. Baby goats have natural antibacterial properties in their saliva so I let them take care of it.
I place the lid on the milk pail and set it aside. Then I get the small lead and put it around her neck. I unlatch the stanchion yoke and lead her back to the goat pen and her babies. Before I let Winefred out (our next goat) I fill the bucket again with grain.
She takes her turn and I repeat the same process over with Winefred.
When both goats are returned to their stalls. I rinse out the strip cup and return it to the shelf. Then I gather the milk and the dirty rags and head to the house.
In the house
When I get in the house. I hang our milk-pail on a hook on the wall while I take care of a few quick things. I don't like setting the pail down on my kitchen surfaces, as the bottom has been on the stanchion where the goat hooves touch.
I Immediately throw the rags in a bin I keep for bleaching in the laundry room.
Then I wash my hands.
I then pour the milk through the strainer, date the glass jar with a Sharpie and place it in the fridge. The dirty milk pail gets hung up until I can clean it and run it through the dishwasher.