Procedure for milking

Though this is only my third year milking, I have realized the following.

The amount of milk I get is closely related to my milking skill. This year I started using a digital scale at the milk stand and find I will push to get that much more out to ensure she is empty when it’s a bit less than yesterday. In other words, I don’t hurry it when I see how much there is (or is not).

The amount of milk initially produced seems to be related to how many kids she birthed; that would relate to her body preparing for a specific number of kids.

How early in lactation I start milking seems to matter. Even if I give the milk (or some of it) back to the kids, getting it out of mom so she continues making it matters.

How much water they drink. When I see that more water has been consumed, often the same (next) morning produces more milk. But that is an easy one.

How much grain is consumed matters. When my doe is “off her feed” because of being in heat or more interested in browse that day, her milk will be down the next day. Also, as long as she is on the milk stand and eating grain, she gets as much as she wants. I don’t “let her go” until *she* is finished. I have also found that sunflower seeds added seems to up production a little bit.

Whether she is as a FF or 2nd year, etc., matters. I am soooo looking forward to next freshening for my Summer because she is such a good producer this past year (2nd freshening) and I did not start milking until at four months when her kids were sold. Next time, I will be starting at a few weeks! Right now, I have not bred her and will wait until her milk supply goes down more because I want to milk her through and breed her fewer times.

Of course, milking twice a day will usually produce more milk than once a day though that is dependent on your doe and circumstances.

I don’t know if any of that is helpful, but it is contains my own observations for my doe(s).

My milking tools

My milking tools

My milking regimen starts with cleaning the udder; I use a clean wash cloth thoroughly rinsed in warm water, slightly dripping is desirable.  Then I dry the udder.  Next comes “stripping” the teats which is squirting out a few squirts into a separate cup to check to see if there are any lumps, blood or any other indication of problems.

Now we get serious with the milking.  I use a 16-ounce stainless steel cup; it is the perfect size and shape with the wide brim making it easy to milk into and the handle, which can be bent to your need, easy to hold.  I also have a mason jar with the milk filter in place to pour the milk in as I am milking.  By emptying along the way, an entire milking is not lost if a foot winds up in the milk or it gets knocked over.  I also have the mason jar setting on the scale so I am measuring the milk right at the stand.  I have found this encourages me to milk that extra few squirts so I get as much as the previous day.

After milking is finished, I clean the udder again with the warm wash cloth and dry it.  Then I dip the ends of the teats in iodine (in a small pill bottle for ease) if there are no kids eating from mom.  If kids are nursing, I skip that step.  Also if kids are not nursing, udder balm, though not necessary, will help keep your goat’s teats in better condition.

The next and final step is to take the milk to the house and put the jar into a bucket of ice water in the refrigerator.  The key to good tasting milk is to get it as cold as possible as quickly as possible.

Most importantly, absolute cleanliness is critical for all milking supplies, your goat and your hands; this cannot be stressed too much.  When I wash my hands, I use soap and a brush and include my wrists as well in case a stray squirt lands there.  Of course, you must rinse well to remove the soap – I go so far as to use a fresh towel to dry my hands.

Post Script:  2016, I now have a scale that weighs in pounds and increments (not ounces) that I weigh again when the milk is in the house (or a more “official” weight.  I continue to use the original digital scale at the milk stand.

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