This mama is not a milk drinker but I tell you what, goats milk makes me happy. HAPPY! Come spring when the does are freshened (given birth so they are back in milk production) life just gets better…starting with that first goats-milk-latte of the season, then cheese, puddings, cajita, and more goats milk soap for starters. That may not trip everyone else trigger like it does mine, but well, you never know. You just may get a wild idea to move to the country to play in the dirt —growing things to eat, and collect some animals. Here’s to get you one step ahead of the game…learning how to milk a goat.
I will skip the research on how superior goats milk is for you, that it is the most perfect food in the world next to human breast milk, and just get to what you are REALLY wondering about: Doesn’t goats milk taste like…well, a goat? Nope. If you do things right, not even close.
After our first milk goat, I gave everyone “A” and “B” dixie cups…one of purchased pasturized cows milk and one of freshly milked raw goats milk. Four out of Five had no clue which was which. Husband Kain picked it out as a guess since it wasn’t chilled quite as cold as the purchased milk yet.
- Separate the does from the bucks (if you have ever smelled a buck there is no explanation needed)
- Feed. We feed alfalfa when there is not enough fresh grazing, and supplement with herb and garden scraps. Grain is given when they are in milk to up the supply.
- Chill that milk as quickly as you can after milking. Ours goes right into the freezer for 45-60 minutes.
Each goat does have a slight taste of their own…even among the same breed. (If buying a dairy goat that’s freshened, ask to taste their milk). But back to milking…
This photo lesson is mostly with my daughter, the master milker. The pictures were taken at different times of the year using different goats (and different hands).
By the time we are done milking for bottle feeding their kids and can use the milk for just us, it is warm enough outside for the goats to be shaved for hygiene purposes, as in this first photo.
The goat goes in the milking stand with grain to occupy her.
Brush off loose hair, dirt, straw etc.
Clean udder and teats, massaging briefly to assist with let down.
The first few pulls of milk are discarded …
to either the cat or dog.
Squeeze at the top of the teat with thumb and first finger,
Working your way down all finger to squeeze or pull the milk all the way out of the teat,
Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat…
My daughter is so fast at it that she always gets a great foam.
(Love this farmer girl)
It’s pretty obvious when the bag is empty, but massage again to see if there’s any more milk in the bag. You want to milk them out to avoid mastitis. (Dipping teats at the end also helps)
Then as quickly as you can, process that milk to get it chilled. Filter the milk to remove any debris (a coffee filter works for us).
Label. (now we use a different color “dot” for each day and only label the initial of which goat the milk came from)
Chill. If you don’t want your glass bottles to break, put a timer on to remind you to take them out, and don’t fill completely…just in case you forget.
Learning to milk by photos doesn’t come close to hands-on learning, but you can always practice on a surgical glove filled with water to prove that you can do this!