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6 Items You Need for Goat Milking
Your goats have finally popped out some absolutely adorable kids or maybe you were lucky enough to find a doe for sale that was already in milk. Either way, you’re going to have to get started with goat milking!
Congrats and welcome to the fun, tasty and smelly world of dairy goats! Before long, you’ll be making cheese with all that milk. Yum.
You might be wondering just what you need in order to milk your goat. Luckily the list is small and can be inexpensive. I’m assuming that you aren’t a licensed commercial dairy, I which case there are very specific rules about the equipment you have to use (but if you’ve gotten to that point, I doubt you need to read this article lol!).
If you are just a small homesteader like us then you can use whatever you want. Purchase used or just make do with what you have. Still, keep safety in mind both for your goat and for yourself.
A Milk Stand
I don’t know who invented the first milk stand, but he or she was an absolute genius. If you’ve ever tried milk a goat without a stand, you know that they run as soon as their udder is touched. If they are tied up, they attempt to run.
However, you put them in a milk stand and they generally stand there calmly.
I don’t know what a milk stand does to a goat’s brain, but it makes milking sooooo much easier.
We were given our first goat milking stand by the same person who gave us our first milk goat for free. It was a Crisis response group doing some desert training and when they were finished, they decided it was too expensive to pack it up to their next destination-Hawaii. Lucky dogs.
It’s just a wooden stand, nothing fancy. A bit too wide so the goats can scoot away from you and you have to crawl after them lol. But hey it works!
When I get around to actually purchasing a goat milking stand, this is the one I’d like to get.
Although…I would suggest considering a metal one too as it will last longer and is easier to clean. The only reason I don’t like the metal ones is I milk outside and the metal really heats up in the summer.
Here’s a cool book that’s free with Kindle Unlimited that teaches you how to build a PVC milk stand.
A Goat Milk Bucket
Obviously you’re going to need something to milk into (note: it’s difficult to use your hand for this). You can use absolutely everything and anything that holds liquid. I have a milk bucket that I love for goat milking, but to be honest I typically just use mason jars.
We do a lot of tours here and because the guests take so long with milking, the goats will have their hooves in the bucket or will have kicked it over before the end of milking. The guests do better keeping mason jars safe.
Another thing I’ve done is milked into mason jars and then emptied them into my milk bucket. That way if the mason jar gets kicked over or stepped in, I haven’t lost all the milk.
Don’t use a plastic container because plastic holds bacteria and odor. It also breaks down over time releasing toxins into the milk.
Also keep in mind that goat milk is good at hiding in crevices. A good milking bucket will have all smooth edges so that it’s easy to clean. The only problem is these buckets are crazy expensive so I get it if you don’t want to invest in it right away and get a cheaper one like I did. You just have to be really really really careful to scrub under that lip to get all the bacteria out. I use a milk cleaner to make sure it’s all out.
Something to Clean Your Goat
You also need to keep your goat clean.
First you need to brush your goat every time you do goat milking. I like this brush. It’s cute and cheap lol.
You should be brushing your goat from the middle of the goat all the way down to the udder area. It doesn’t have to be crazy good grooming, you’re just trying to make sure all the loose hair, hay and dirt (not to mention manure) is off the goat so it doesn’t fall into the milk.
Cheap or can’t find your brush? Wipe the goat down with a slightly damp rag.
The second area you need to clean is the goat’s udder. Obviously the goat’s babies don’t clean her udder, but…they kind of do. Saliva has some amazing enzymes in it that will destroy bacteria (one of our first lines of immune defense).
So every time the goat kid drinks, it’s actually cleaning the udders and destroying Mastitis producing bacteria.
I like to use Mother Earth New’s recipe for udder cleaner https://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/teat-dip-zbcz1311 because it’s natural. A lot of people use dawn soap and bleach. I don’t really like that.
- 1 Part Water
- 1 part rubbing alcohol
- 5-10 drops tea tree oil
A Strip Cup
Research shows that the majority of bacteria in the udder is in the first couple squirts of milk, just hanging around in the teat.
A strip cup is basically any white container that you squirt the first squirts of milk into and then throw it away. Before throwing it away though, it’s important to check the milk for any abnormalities. Is there blood in it? Is it discolored? Is the milk curdled?
That’s why it’s helpful to have a white strip cup. It’s easier to tell if something is wrong, in particularly mastitis. I keep a little bowl out there and I dump that small amount of milk into it for the cats so I don’t waste.
A Milk Filter
Once you’re done goat milking, you will need to filter the milk. This just gets any little solids out that might have fallen in such as goat hair. I use a metal funnel that fits into mason jars. It is a ‘mini’ milk funnel which is great (and cheaper) when you don’t have a lot of goats. I use this one in the winter when I’m only milking a couple goats and I have a larger one for the warmer months.
You should also buy milk filters. These are the ones that fit into the metal funnel I use.
Having said that, I don’t buy milk filters at all anymore. I use coffee filters or old pillowcase scraps. I think they work a lot better than milk filters and they’re WAY cheaper.
Goat Milk Storage Containers
Since my metal funnel fits into a mason jar, I just use mason jars to store the milk. We don’t milk a ton of goats and we offer a lot of cheesemaking classes here, so we go through our milk pretty quickly. Mason jars work perfectly for us.
Some people reuse plastic milk jugs. Again the problem with plastic is it holds onto bacteria. Purchase new ones and don’t reuse them.
You can also buy a milk jug to store your milk in.
Goat Milking Machine
A lot of people ask us if we have a milk machine, but no we still milk all the goats by hand. I’ve been tempted, but they’re expensive and I have so many other things to spend my money on lol.
I think if you only have a couple milk goats, it’s not worth the effort. Remember you have to set up and also clean up. I’ve heard they take about a half hour to clean and it takes me about that long to milk two goats.
I’ve been eyeing this milk machine as it’s for goats and cattle, but I haven’t actually tried it myself.
California Mastitis Test
A highly suggested item to have is a Mastitis Tester. The California Mastitis Test works by the chemicals in it reacting with leukocytes (cells that fight infection) and forming a gel. When a gel forms, you know your goat has Mastitis. It’s not expensive, but it is expensive to replace your goat, both financially and emotionally.
Is there anything you use for goat milking that isn’t on this list?