July 23, 2008

Milking Goats

I milk our dairy goats by hand, don’t have a milking machine and highly doubt if we will ever invest in one. Not only due to the cost, I believe the machine takes away from the milking experience. Plus you gotta clean the thing after each and every use. Me, I just prefer to wash my milk buckets and my hands.
Normally I have 3 does in milk. At one time I was milking 6 full size dairy does and it was all I could do to keep up in using the milk and from spending all day in the milk room. It normally takes me about 30 minutes per goat to milk, twice a day. If you do the math, that’s about 6 hours a day from start to finish. Sure there are those a lot younger, faster at milking that could probably fly through milking in much less time. They are not fighting with “old hands” (old hands are as mine, who suffer from the years of use, showing signs of arthritis, carpal tunnel, morning stiffness and are just down right tired at times).
You could have small breeds of goats that produce less milk, which would equal less milking time per goat. There again, do the math, to have a gallon of milk a day from miniature breeds you would need about 4 times the number of goats (or mega producers which are hard to find) which would increase the amount of feed needed, more time spent in caring for more animals and milking more goats. Don’t get me wrong the miniature breeds are just simply adorable, give a quart or better of milk a day, are easy to handle but if I am going to milk, I prefer to have the big girls that give a gallon day and be done with it.

That's my great niece learning to milk.

For a small farmstead, small family, 3 full size dairy goats will produce above the normal amount of milk needed. We are probably abnormal in our daily use of milk, we bottle feed goat kids, milk feed pigs, use our milk in soap making, cheese making and for our table. I would say most could have 2 full size dairy goats and be well supplied. One full size dairy doe from good milk lines would give an adequate supply. But I hesitate to say 1 due to goats being herd animals and needing companionship. You don’t want to keep your milker in with a buck (male goat) due to the buck smelling and your milk would taste just like the buck smells. Pepe Le Pew milk for sure.

Back to milking... here are a few things I keep on hand for milking:
Strip cup - I ordered my strip cup, strainer and filters from Hoeggers Goat Supply.
Dip cup - Dip and dip cup came from a local farm store.
Dip - I use the dip, which says, "aids in reducing the spread of organisms which may cause mastitis." Brand is Monarch, there are many different types. I started with just the Prodine, but once started reading labels, changed to the Protek Teat Dip for pre and post milking. It clings to the teat to add a protective barrier, stays on longer than the Prodine.
Have to mention a product called Fight Bac, a spray can that is also a disinfectant to help in controlling mastitis, I bought a can of that, it looked so easy and simple. Holy moly the goats went bonkers from the sound of the spray. Needless to say I do not use it. Know many that do and love it.
Your local farm store should have the dips, they usually come in gallon containers and I think the shipping and handling on them would be quite expensive if ordered through Hoegger or Caprine.
Milking pails - My milking pails came from Jeffers. Have a couple different sizes; find the 6 qt. to be the most frequently used. The price of Jeffers pails was also least expensive when I was buying.
Cover for milking pails - Those saran wrap bowl covers with elastic, they come in handy to cover if you do not have lids for your milking pails.
Milk Stanchion - The better half built my milking stanchions. The first stanchion, he used plans from an article in Mother Earth News or Country Side, we lost the magazine so he winged it with the second one. I have milked a couple of wild does tied to a fence post so a stanchion is not a total necessity, but it comes in handy for many things such as hoof trimming, grooming and medicating.
Towels - There are dairy towels but I use the regular baby wipes.
Udder wash – Baby wipes do a good job here also.
Udder sponges - I do occasionally use the yellow udder sponges from Caprine Supply to pre wash in warm soapy water, so I keep a supply on hand.
Mastitis check - There is the California Mastitis Test (CMT) or the Mastitis Indicators cards that can be ordered from any dairy supply or at your local farm store.
Strainer and filters – You have to strain your milk after each milking. Hoeggers, Caprine, any farm store should have filters and strainers that come in various sizes. I prefer the small one that fits in the mouth of a canning jar.
Double boiler or pasteurize - My first pasteurizer was a stainless steel bowl with a lip (from Wal-Mart) that fit into one of my stainless pots (also use it as a homemade double boiler for cheese making). After 5 years of milking, I purchased a pasteurizer from Hoeggers.
Containers to store milk - I use 1/2-gallon mason canning jars to store milk in. I prefer glass to plastic. Easily sterilized.

My 2¢ product review of dairy towels:
I attempted to use udder wipes, purchased a container from Caprine Supply.
Their ad said "Our Caprine Supply udder wipes are rapid drying, softening, cleansing, sanitizing, and disinfecting. They help control mastitis and promote general udder health. Active ingredients: Chlorhexidine Gluconate, Lanolin, Isopropyl Alcohol, Inert ingredients. No milk withdrawal required. 700 wipes per pail -- 200 more than most other udder wipe packaging"

Let me tell you, they are just not worth the money. I was totally disappointed with them. Basically all alcohol, nothing else. Fast drying to say the least, the minute you pull them from the bucket and they hit the air...nothing moist about them. The paper is stiff and hard. I do not see how they clean the udder, they won't clean my skin. I had a Nubian who I was breaking to the stand, she would try to push my hand away with her foot and occasionally leave dirt on my arm. I thought OK, wipe it off with a wipe. NOPE. Back to my udder sponges and cleanser or baby wipes.

Oh I almost forgot, thermometers - if not using a pasteurizer, you will need these for watching temps during pasteurizing. I have a cheese thermometer and a candy thermometer, which I use only for processing milk products and cheese making.

In the future I do hope to have a new cream separator. We have a 1940’s separator that needs a tad bit of work, but it actually works.

Excerpt from Owners Manual McCormick – Deering Cream Separators, 1946

Ripening Cream and Making Butter at Home
Make your starter for ripening the cream by setting away part of the Separator skimmed milk in a covered can or glass jar and holding it at a temperature of 70 to 80 degrees F. for twenty-four hours. It should sour and form a solid curd in this time. Ripened whole milk or buttermilk can be used also but the skim milk is best.
Keep the cream as sweet as possible until about twenty-four hours before churning time; than add the starter in the proportion of about 1 quart of starter to 3 gallons of cream. More or less starter may be required according to the age of the cream and it’s temperature. This you must determine by experimenting under your own conditions. Do not add fresh cream later than twelve hours before churning and stir it in well. Also stir the cream occasionally while ripening.

Use a churn without inside fixtures. The old fashioned barrel churn is as good as any. When the cream is in the churn, add the butter color, being careful not to get too dark a shade. Less color is needed when the cows are on pasture during than during the winter months.

Churn at temperatures from 55 to 58 degrees F. in summer and 60 to 62 degrees F in winter. Operate the churn with a moderately fast, uniform motion. Churning 30 to 35 minutes will usually bring the butter.


Able Oaks Ranch Alpacas said...

Great goat site and nice tips on hand milking, which I also do. currently I have 2 alpines and 1 nubian in milk.

Anonymous said...

I milk the same way as you Jama!

JK said...

Hand milking is easiest don't you think Amy.

Thanks Able Oaks. No Nubians, though we have a couple of Alpines too.

Anonymous said...

Yes Jama, hand milking is the easiest since there is no risk of spooking them with a noisy machine!

Anonymous said...

Do you pasteurize the milk before drinking?