Friday, December 28, 2012

Milking

I get a lot of reader questions about milking, and I've enjoyed answering your questions individually, but have avoided writing about the topic in a generalized manner because I feel like there are a lot of "heated" opinions out there as to what is the "correct" way.
But in spirit of the common interest, I will share what we do with our milking doe, it has worked for us, and hopefully it can help others who are just starting out. Please do your own research before milking and determine your own routine, sanitary precautions and comfort level for your family and animals.

We've been milking for two seasons now. Our Angora rejected her kid last year, so we milked her and fed it back to little Ichabod.

That was our first experience with milking. To read more about this visit Our Kidding Story.

We've had our beautiful, gentle Esther now for about 6 months and enjoy her milk and the cream, butter, cheese and soap that can be made from it.

We are in the process of drying Esther off in preparation for her to have her new babies in March, so I tried to get some photos of the process before she dries up. I have a stock pile of milk in the freezer to get us through until we start milking again. (But at the rate we drink it, we will probably run out...sigh.) Oh well, "a time for every season."

Our milking supplies include:
small pail
Baby Formula Castille soap and warm water
or disposable Sanitary Hand Wipes
strip cup
milk pail with lid (I like the lid to keep the milk as clean as possible in transport from the barn to the house)
Iodine
Dixie Cups
 
I keep our supplies in the house mostly for temperature reasons. I keep the milk pail in the freezer so that the warm milk starts cooling as soon as we milk her. The goal in milking is to bring the milk's temp down as as fast as you can to prevent a goat-y flavor caused from bacteria. I also keep the wipes and Iodine in the house so it's fairly warm when we use it on our girl. I don't want to freeze poor Esther.

I take the supplies out to the barn and set them on the table next to the stanchion. 

Before we let Esther out of her area, we fill her bucket with grain. She gets about 8 cups morning and night. We feed a sweet feed mixed by a local elevator. We usually have black oiler sunflower seeds mixed in as well, but we just ran out.

Her stanchion is in the large area of the barn. Away from all the animals. 

Esther comes out of the pen and knows to go to her stanchion.

We built this stanchion usuing the plans from Fias Co Farm. If you decide to make this stanchion, please send a contribution to the site. They have a wonderful collection of free information and the donation is well worth it!

She begins eating and we gently secure her neck in the arms above her feed pail. Esther is so used to being milked that many times this is unnecessary and half the time I forget to lock her in. But ideally, this will keep her in place.

To begin, we wash her udders and teats. We use two things to wash Esther, depending on what the day holds. Ideally I like to use a warm wash cloth with the Baby formula Castile soap.

I like the Castile because it's gentle and soothing to her sensitive skin. I take a pail and add a small amount, then run the warm water and throw in a wash cloth.

If I'm in a hurry, I use hand wash wipes. There are all versions of these available at the store. I would like to get our routine a little more "organic" but for now I feel secure with the soap or sanitary wipes.

We wash her udder and teats thoroughly, and then our hands. This is very important.

Then we milk a few squirts into her strip cup. The strip cup is a cup with a fine mesh screen.

We are looking for any clots in the milk that will stay above the screen. Sometimes clots can be a sign of mastitis. It's also good to take the screen off and look for any discoloration in the milk, or blood.

If everything looks good. We can milk her into the pail.

We know when Esther is done when her teats lay flat and limp and no more milk will squeeze out.

I place the lid on the milk pail and set it aside. Then I take a Dixie cup and pour a small amount of Iodine into the bottom. I dip her teats into the Iodine. This sanitizes the opening of her teats until the wax cap can form and prevent bacteria from entering her teat.

We release Esther from her stand and bring her back to the other goats. Then we immediately bring the milk in the house.

Check back soon for future posts on handling the milk after milking.
Prepping your supplies for the next milking.
Milking technique, hand to udder and getting the milk out.     

 

2 comments:

Nana-Bob said...

I love this post. I never knew that you could get butter or cream from their milk! How interesting. I wil have to try it sometime. Very nicely written and deailed too. Thank you. :)

Bee girl said...

thank you, thank you for such a useful post!

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