Learning To Milk A Dairy Goat
So, like I shared on Monday, we got our very first dairy goats over this past weekend. I’m so excited!!
I’ve never in my life milked anything. And now I have dairy goats… that need to be milked twice a day. Talk about jumping in head first!
Milking has been a little bit of a learning process. I explained in my last post that if you don’t pinch off the very top of the teat well enough (where the teat meets the udder), when you go to squeeze the rest of the teat the milk will go back up into the udder instead of coming out. You can feel it going the wrong way. I was a little afraid to pinch too hard, so it took me a while to learn not to make this mistake. I’m still working on it.
When milking a goat you do not pull or yank on the teat. It’s a little difficult to explain without being able to show you the process, but once you’ve closed off the top of the teat using your index finger and thumb curled around the teat, you close the rest of your fingers, one at a time, working the milk down and out. Maybe once I get the hang of it I’ll make a video to demonstrate. Though I’m sure there are probably some good ones you can watch on YouTube already.
We’ve had the goats for three days now, and I’m definitely getting better with each milking. I’ve even gotten comfortable enough to use two hands at a time. I’m only milking one of the does for now, but plan on weaning the kids off of the other doe next week so that I can start milking her as well.
The problem I’m having now is that the one goat has decided she doesn’t want to be milked. I’m sure it’s because she’s still adjusting. But she seems to get ornerier every day. The first morning and evening she was very easy to catch, and jumped right up onto the milkstand (which, by the way, my husband did a great job of building out of scrap wood). But today she wanted nothing to do with being milked. I couldn’t even catch her this morning. I tried on three separate occasions to go out and get a hold of her, but she’s much too fast.
Finally, this evening, she let me get her fairly easily. But while I was milking her she decided she wasn’t happy about it any longer, and began jumping up off her hind legs, dancing around, and kicking the milk jug.
I was determined to milk her out though. She’d gone all day without being milked, and I was worried that she’d begin to get engorged and develop mastitis, or possibly begin drying up. I took my time, massaged her udder, spoke gently and rubbed her neck. Eventually, she stopped messing around and let me finish the job.
I’ve only been able to get about 1/2 quart from her a day… no where near the 3/4 gallon the people we got her from said they were getting! Hopefully it’s just nerves and she’ll loosen up after a few more days. Hopefully.
I tried to milk the other doe tonight, but she wouldn’t have anything to do with jumping up onto the milk stand. I put a bowl of feed down for her, and tried to see if I could get any milk out of her while she ate on the ground. I wasn’t catching the milk, just seeing if she’d let me do it. She did, but I very quickly realized that her teats are much smaller than the other doe’s, which made milking her a lot trickier. Now I know why they sold her so cheap!!
Maybe I can teach Jada how to milk “Smiley”… her little hands might do well with the goat’s small teats!
Anyways, it’s a learning process, for me and for the goats! I’ll be glad when they are used to us and the routine. I’m milking at 9am and 9pm, which works well for me. Jerry hooked up a light for me to use at the milkstand at night, which is great, except for all of the bugs that quickly accumulate and end up in the milk container. I think we’ll have to get a different color light to deter the gnats and moths.
I’ve also realized that I need to have an area where I can separate the other goats from the one being milked. While “Blondie” is on the stand eating from the tray and being milked, “Smiley” and her kids are bad about jumping up and trying to eat Blondie’s snack as well. I have to tie Smiley up to keep her away while I milk. I’ll also need a separate area to pen the kids up while weaning.
Some things you just can’t plan for. You learn as you go. But if you’ve been following us for a while you know that’s how we do it: trial and error.
Thankfully my children quickly took to the goat’s milk, and love it. Now, if I can only get enough to last us a day at a time!! But at least we’re getting something. We’re learning, and hopefully it’ll get better and better as we go.
It’s so fun coming in with fresh milk of our own!! I’m still getting used to hearing myself tell the kids, “I gotta go milk the goat now.” It really is a great feeling!
Any advice from you experienced dairy goat owners out there?