I had milked a goat when I was nineteen working at an animal shelter that happened to have taken in a goat. Looking back it seemed very easy and I don’t remember any issues. So when we got Katrina I thought it would come back to me. Of course Katrina wouldn’t let her milk down and I had no idea where to squeeze on her giant Dwarf udder. A friend came to our rescue and showed us how to milk her. We were so thrilled with our half a cup of milk each day, that is if we could keep her from kicking the pail and making us lose all the precious coffee creamer. She supposedly had perfect udders but it didn’t help me because I left the baby on and she really had no desire to share with me. I sold her and her new mama milks her without a milk stanchion and gets a quart a day! She just wasn’t meant to be mine.
Jill gave us Isabella Noni, our giant Saanen who gives a gallon a day of delicious, creamy milk. Jill warned us that her udders were not great. They seemed like heaven to us after trying to milk Katrina. I did soon figure out why I couldn’t milk very well after watching another gal milk her Nubians. She continued a conversation with us, not even looking at the bucket as she milked these goats so fast that I thought we were in a contest at the fair. She has smaller hands than I do….and then it hit me. Once Doug gets part of the milk out of the udder on Isabella it is then small enough for me to wrap my hand around. So, Elsa may be even easier to milk next year! I am glad we start out with the hardest animals and work our way to the easiest. If we don’t give up, we are in for rewards!
I would have loved a tutorial before I started milking, so I am demonstrating one here just in case a homesteader out there gets a goat that needs to be milked and thinks they can just wing it like we did!
First wash the udders lightly with a mixture of mild soap (like Dr. Bronner’s) and water. I use a slip of paper towel because that is what I saw another girl do.
Oh, before that make sure she is locked into the stanchion happily munching away on sweet feed. Sweet feed looks like it was dipped in molasses and smells great. It provides mama with minerals and nutrients she needs while she is making all that milk. We had asked the people we used to get feed from for sweet feed and brought home regular goat feed. No wonder Katrina hated us. Make sure you have sweet feed!
The washing of her udders also gives her the hint that she needs to let the milk down. Wrap your hand around the upper part of the udder. Do not pull! Squeeze your hand, letting your fingers come into a fist. Your hand doesn’t move up or down. Then keep squeezing all that good milk out until not much is coming out and she is looking pretty shriveled. If she seems to be getting chapped, add a little skin salve or a touch of olive oil. Give her a kiss and a good pat on the head and repeat the whole thing twelve hours later.
Bring the milk in to the kitchen. I like the two quart canning jars to put milk in because they are pretty but you could certainly refill old milk jugs, juice containers, or whatever. Put a funnel on top of the jar, then a strainer, then a square of tightly woven cheese cloth and strain the milk through. We were using coffee filters and they took the whole morning to strain through (I might be exaggerating but honestly, I haven’t the patience for it that early). Then we tried just the sieve. It let a bit of hay through. Then the cheese cloth, and it works just right.
Label the lid with the date because in the fridge they all look the same. Goat’s milk stays good for about two weeks. If it starts smelling sour use it to make soap, cheese, or take a bath in it. Chickens love it too. Goat’s milk is homogenized, meaning it doesn’t separate like cow’s milk. This means it is a pain to make butter out of but a beauty to drink because it is super creamy and delicious. We recommend chocolate syrup. Cold chocolate milk is amazingly delicious.
A word on raw verses pasteurized. Louis Pasteur at the end of his life even questioned his theory. Once you pasteurize it, you kill it. There are no enzymes left to digest it leaving many folks with lactose intolerance issues and many others with gas and mucous problems. Raw milk has all the enzymes and nutrients in tact. It helps the body to better absorb calcium, whereas pasteurized leaches calcium from the bones. E coli worry? Wash the udders. Do you know what the goat is eating? We use fresh hay and alfalfa, organic sweet feed. Clean water, lots of fresh air, and places to play. These are happy goats. My goats don’t have parasites, your local farmer’s pry don’t either. I am not sure why the news is jumping on all things natural lately, I guess the organic, natural, farm movement is taking money from the big corporations, but I will keep on drinking raw milk because I know how I feel when I drink it. I know that it is good for Maryjane to supplement her breast milk. Goat’s milk is what our grandmas fed to infants if they couldn’t breast feed. Have you read the ingredients for baby formula?
For the love of goats! I will get off my podium and encourage you to go get your milking goat. There is chocolate milk and hilarious goat antics waiting for your enjoyment.