One of the most popular uses for goats is milk. Goat milk is nutritious, delicious, and easy to digest. You can use it to make other foods like butter and cheese, or just drink it straight. Getting milk from your goats isn’t complicated, but it does require consistency. In order to keep your goats producing milk they must be milked at the same time every day – no breaks allowed.
Before you can start getting milk from your goats, though, you must breed them. Goats begin making milk to feed their children (called kids). We’ll talk more about mating goats in another section, but for now just know that your goat will start making milk as soon as she has kids. It’s best to let her give all of her milk to her kids for two weeks, but after that you can begin milking.
Once the kids are two weeks old you can begin separating them from their mother for the night. That way she’ll have some time to build up extra milk. You can milk her first thing in the morning and allow her kids to drink as they please for the rest of the day. This way there will be plenty of milk available for both of you.
There’s not a lot of equipment necessary for milking. Your main tool will be a seamless stainless steel pail. When you’re ready to milk, bring your pail out to your goat shed and tether your goat. It’s not a bad idea to feed her some grain while you’re milking to distract her. An errant foot in a pail of milk is enough to ruin the whole thing, so do your best to keep her still while you’re milking.
Immediately before you begin to milk you should clean off her udders. You can get cleaning solution from most farm stores. This keeps both her and your milk healthy. Once she’s clean you can begin milking. Milk out both udders in the same period, and do your best to get all the milk out that you can. The better you milk her the more milk she’ll end up making.
Once you’re done, cover your pail and let you goat free. It’s important to store your milk immediately after milking. Bring your pail back to the house, strain the milk, and separate it into containers. Glass jars work well for this since they’re easy to clean, but if you find something else that works better there’s no reason not to use it. Seal your milk well and keep it cool.
Finally, make sure you wash all of your equipment thoroughly. Letting dirty equipment sit out is a great way to form milk stone, a deposit that can be very difficult to wash off. Wash everything thoroughly with hot water and then sterilize to prevent disease.
You can milk a doe for about ten months after she gives birth. You can breed her again during those ten months, but try to time things so she can have a two month dry period before her next set of kids is born. Remember, a milking doe also needs to be fed more than a dry one, so make sure she’s getting two to three pounds of grain a day and plenty of time to browse.
As long as you keep a steady schedule of milking, your goats will provide you with all the milk you can handle!
Pic by BryanAlexander.