How to milk a goat

March 27, 2012 § 2 Comments

This is right up there with “skills you never thought you would need.” I fell in love with goat milk about three years ago. I never liked it before having it fresh and cold. It was delicious – not at all “goaty.” So when two milking does became available from a nearby farm, I said, “Yes” and Tim said, “What??”

2012

Cella the Dog is waiting patiently for her sip of Brie's delicious milk. The chickens are there for any grain that falls from the milking stand.

When they arrived, we were left with two, full goats and little else.   A quick stop at Ace Hardware brought me a couple of collars, a leash (silly me) and two pails. But that evening, the realization that these goats needed to be milked settled in. Neither Tim nor I had a clue. Fortunately, YouTube and a charming woman from Scotland came to the rescue.  It looked so easy.

I wish I had video of that day to share with you.  Without a milking stand, Tim and I were left partially laying on the ground, considering what exactly we were to grab, and a slight intimidation of what those horns might do if we got it wrong.  It became apparent that it was not as easy to milk a goat in Hawaii as it was in Scotland.  Fortunately, Brie and Chevre were patient.  You see, milking a goat is not the same as milking a cow.  There is no pulling on a teat as any goat will quickly remind you.  It is all in the “squeeze.”  Now, wrap your thumb and forefinger around the base of the teat tightly enough to trap the milk inside the teat.  Squeeze with your middle finger, then your ring finger, and then your pinky, in one smooth, successive motion.  Keep your grip tight on the base of the teat, or else instead of going into the bucket, the milk will slip right back up into the udder.  This is not good – especially for the goat.  Relax your grip on the base of the teat to allow milk to refill the teat and repeat until empty.  Note, a goat has one udder and two teats.  This may come in handy someday.

Remember, all of this follows getting the goat on the milking stand, having her secured, grain in place, the udder cleaned, massaging her udder so the milk “drops down,” and sterilized jars at the ready.  When both teats are emptied, cap the jar or cover the pail, so the goat doesn’t kick all your hard work on the ground (this was not included in the YouTube video, rather it came with experience), and use an iodine solution to clean the udder.  A good scratch and maybe a brushing is much appreciated by any goat following her gift.

There it is.  Tim is our chief milker around here.  But Mia and I enjoy the task as long as we can keep the other goats out of the feed box.  I’m still not sure how Tim manages to do it all by himself.  Brie is still giving us a bit of milk after all these years.  It’s time to breed Feta in order to keep our milk production going.  However, we need to mend a few fences before we add any more goats to the herd.  If you have a goat in need of milking, refer to YouTube and Wiki How To for detailed instruction.  The Internet is a wealth of information.  If you have no goat but desire the best milk, head to the farmers market.  65% of the world’s milk production is goat’s milk.  It is naturally homogenized, meaning the cream and milk stay mixed together making it easier to digest, less allergenic, and rarely causes lactose intolerance.  Not all milk is created equal.  There is a big difference.  Remember that when you are considering spending a bit more for fresh goat’s milk.  I know my girls are getting a fantastic diet, no hormones, and lots of aloha.  Milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, kefir . . . it is all good food for the family.  Now, the discussion on raw milk versus pasteurized will have to wait for another time.  We’ve got a goat to milk.

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§ 2 Responses to How to milk a goat

  • Trish Sanborn says:

    Hi Karen!
    Happened across your blog and just love it! I was thinking about you and your family just the other day when my best friend, who’s in the hotel industry, said ” Let’s do a B&B in Hawaii!” I told him all about you and believe it or not he knew the exact location of your farm and even has a favorite breakfast place further up the mountain! Now that he’s put the buzz in my ear, we might all make the trip and would certainly love to see you if we do. Hope all is well and I truly admire all of you for living your dream!
    Best,
    Trish Sanborn
    trishlbk@ comcast.net

    • Aloha Trish!

      We would love to see you when you come to the Big Island!! Lots of fun things to do and see. Keep us posted on your plans. Big hug to you and your family,

      Karen, Tim, Mia, and Oliver

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