April 8, 2015

6 Must-Have Items to Milk a Goat

Your goat has kidded and you're ready to milk! What equipment do you need? Here are the six basic items that I feel are necessary to begin. If you're planning to run a goat dairy, you will need to follow the regulations in your state regarding equipment and facilities, but if you are milking for your family's use, you have more leeway. You can buy new equipment, or you can improvise by using items you already have or find in thrift shops or at yard sales.




#1 - a way to restrain your goat
A milkstand is the usual method, but there are other alternatives. A metal milkstand purchased from Hoegger Supply Company or Hamby Dairy Supply - both great places to shop when you need goat supplies - might cost upwards of $400.

A wooden stand is easy to make at home if you're handy (or married to someone who is); I also see them for sale on Craigslist from time to time. Hoegger Supply Company offers a wooden stand for about $200; they also sell the plans to make them.


Hubby built a wooden stand for me when we first bought our goats, but we lost it in the barn fire. I bought this metal milkstand from my neighbor for $15. The deck, where the goat stands, is rusted away, but a piece of plywood fits on top and works just fine. All of the paint had worn off in the weather; I spray-painted it last summer.

No funds to buy a milk stand? You can still restrain your goat with a little ingenuity. When I took my goats to the county fair, I'd milk by putting the doe's feed on the other side of a cattle panel fence. She'd put her head through the fence to eat her feed, and I'd snap her collar to the fence. If I did this in a corner, she'd have to stand against the fence and couldn't dance away from me.

The nice thing about a milkstand is that it gets the goat up off the ground, which is much easier on your back.


#2 - something to milk into
I recommend a seamless, stainless steel container. I have a milk bucket with a half-moon cutout lid. Supposedly you can milk into the bucket with the lid on top to help keep out flies and debris, but it's impossible for me to aim the milk stream into that cutout portion. I've also used a stainless steel stockpot; its higher sides are especially helpful if your goat likes to stomp her foot in the bucket. Stockpots don't have a bail (handle) like a bucket does though, which makes it a little harder to carry back to the house.


Some folks use plastic containers such as ice cream buckets. Plastic can retain odors and stains though, so I wonder if it can be cleaned well enough for milking. Others use glass canning jars, milking one teat at a time. Personally, I don't use glass around my animals, I'm rather clutsy.


#3 - a way to clean your goat before you milk
A brush to brush off hair and stray pieces of straw from the goat's belly, udder wash to clean the udder, and a soft washcloth or rag to dry the teats before you milk are must-haves. I use this udder wash formula from Fias Co Farms, and dry off the teats with soft washcloths. You'll also need a teat spray or dip after milking. There are products online and in your feed store; I use udder wash in a cup to dip each teat and let them air-dry.


Washcloths, strip cup, brush



#4 - a strip cup
This is simply a small container to hold the first couple of squirts from each teat when you begin to milk. Studies show that the first milk holds the most bacteria, so it's best to keep it out of your milk pail. It also allows you to check for clumps and clots that might mean mastitis. I use a plastic cup, and I pour the little bit of milk into the barn cats' bowl.



#5 - a strainer to strain the milk
You can buy a stainless steel milk strainer and filters, or you can improvise. Coffee filters don't work well for this but I've discovered that a clean white cotton cloth such as a handkerchief will strain the milk quite well. I set the cloth in my milk strainer and hold it in place with clothespins, then pour the milk in.


#6 - milk storage containers
You can buy plastic milk jugs online, perfect for those who sell raw milk. I use quart mason jars. I tried to use half gallon jars but found that they are too tall for the shelves in my refrigerator.

Plastic lids are available in the housewares section of many stores including my local hardware store.


Of course there are many other products that you might want to use - udder balm, a set of hobbles if your goat likes to kick while on the milkstand, a ramp up to the milkstand or sides for your stand to keep your goat from falling off, and more, but these six items are the basics that you'll need to get started. What items would you add?


This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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6 comments:

  1. Nice Post Kathy :)
    We purchased a feeder that hangs on our milk stand for grain. Our goats have fits if we try to milk without them getting fed :)
    I would love a metal stand, we have a wooden one my husband built many years ago. We have fixed it a couple of times.

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  2. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead7:06 AM

    Yes, Sandra, I agree that feed and a feeder are necessities too! I know a few goats that will stand nicely without feed but they are certainly the exception to the rule. Plus this is the easy way to make sure that each doe gets her full ration and any extras that she needs. You can see in the photos that my stand doesn't accept a hanging feeder and I had to improvise with an old cooler to hold the feed dish.

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  3. It really doesn't take that much! Wow, what a deal you got on that milking stand! It pays to know your neighbors.

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  4. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead7:37 AM

    I'm thankful every day for that milkstand. Thank you for visiting, Daisy.

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  5. Thank you for sharing this great informative post with us at Good Morning Mondays. We milk cows not goats but I am always interested in how you do things. Blessings

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    Replies
    1. I've never milked a cow but I assume you'd need similar equipment - and a bigger bucket!

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