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How to Milk a Dairy Goat

Sue Merriam

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Milking your dairy goat leads to the biggest reward of having these wonderful creatures - namely the delicious fresh milk and cheese! But there are a few tricks to it, and a few supplies you should have on hand before you get started.

A Stand. . . And A Little Peace

Unlike cows, even your larger saanen will be a bit short, which will make it challenging to get a bucket under her and milk her. That's why a stand - a raised platform for her to stand on - is really useful, and downright crucial if you have a nigerian dwarf.

Like all intelligent critters, she can be trained to jump onto the platform if you offer her a treat at her twice-daily milking times. So offer her a small bowl of grain or beet pulp. The pulp tastes like candy and will help increase her flow. And be sure to set the stand in a nice secluded place where there won't be distractions.

Human mamas don't appreciate people coming and going and loud noises when they are breastfeeding. In the same way, your nubians will appreciate a little quiet as well.

The Essential Stainless Steel Pail and Strainer

Never use a plastic pail. Bacteria will get into the pores of the plastic and will be impossible to remove. It will contaminate the milk, and you'll end up with a product unfit for consumption. Also, avoid an aluminum container. If the aluminum gets scratched, bacteria can get into the scratches as well.

Instead, use a stainless steel container. You will also need a strainer that holds disposable milk strainer pads. You can find these at a farm-supply store. Once you have poured your milk through a strainer, store it in large quart glass jars or a stainless steel container.

Keep Things Clean

The nice thing about raw goat's milk is there isn't as much of a danger of salmonella or e-coli. That's due to the poop factor. A cow produces a messy feces, but goats produce a small, dry pellet that's easy to clean up and seldom sticks to the udders. All the same, it's crucial to clean the udders before you start. The udders may not have feces, but they can have bacteria. If left on the teat end, it could enter the udder and cause mastitis - a condition that makes life miserable for your milker and produces pus in the milk. To avoid this, be sure to wipe the udders with udder wipes or a damp, sanitary cloth.

The First Few Squeezes Go Into a Separate Cup

Those first few squeezes may contain bacteria or solid materials you won't want in your milk. Also, if the milk is pink, that's a sign your milker has mastitis. Observe those first few squeezes and then throw them out.

How To Get The Milk Out

Place your thumb and forefinger at the top of the teat near the udder. Squeeze gently, but firmly. This will keep the milk that is in the teat from back flowing. Now bring in your other fingers. First the middle finger, then the ring finger and finally the little finger. Bring each finger down a fraction before the next. Do it right, and a jet of milk will appear. Never pull down on the teats.

Use both hands, squeezing one teat and then the other in a rhythm. Keep at it until the udder is no longer full and you can no longer squeeze out any milk. Remove the pail and then wipe the teats again. If necessary, add udder cream.

Keep Things Cool

Don't let your milk stand while you finish your chores. Instead, store your milk immediately in a refrigerator, preferable on the bottom shelf. Your goal is to cool the milk to 38 degrees Fahrenheit within an hour of milking. Also, don't add fresh milk to cold milk. If you do store your milk in glass jars, keep them out of the light to preserve the flavor.

Be a Clean Freak

To make certain all the bacteria is removed from your equipment, take the following steps:

Rinse everything with cold water. Warm or hot water cooks the casein in the milk and can lead to a buildup. Never let the milk dry in your equipment. Then rinse your equipment again with warm water and use an alkaline detergent. This will remove all fatty acids, protein and bacteria.

About once a week, use an acid detergent to remove the milky deposits on your equipment. Afterwards, use a stiff brush and wash your equipment in hot, soapy water. Rinse your equipment in lots of hot water and a chlorine or iodine compound. Invert your equipment on a rack and allow them to air dry. Do not dry with a towel. Both alkaline and acid cleansers can be found at feed supply stores and online.

Sue Merriam is author of the website, Organic Gardening and Homesteading.


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