Goat Milking Equipment You Need to Milk a Goat

A tri-colored Nubian goat standing on a blue milkstand, waiiing to be milked.

Your goat has kidded and now you're ready to milk her. What do you need to milk your goat? Here are the six basic goat milking equipment items you'll need.

Updated April 2024

Goat milking equipment - what you need to milk your goat

Owning dairy goats that provide high-quality milk for your family is a cornerstone of homesteading and sustainable living. 

Do you want to milk by hand or machine?

If your personal goal is to milk a goat by the easiest way possible, you might be tempted to use a milking machine.

A goat milking machine is a big purchase with a big price tag, and if you have just a few goats it's more economical to milk your goats by hand.

A machine also requires electricity, and needs to be thoroughly cleaned after each milking. 

Once I weighed the pros and cons of a goat milking machine, I quickly decided that milking by hand was the only logical choice for me and my goats.

I also tried a manual milker (similar to the EZ Milker) but I found it "fiddly" - in other words, it was as much work as milking my goats by hand.

The choice of how you milk on your homestead is totally up to you! Many of the equipment, items and supplies discussed in this post are also used with a goat milking machine.

Regulations regarding milking goats

If you're planning to run a goat dairy, you will need to follow the regulations in your state regarding milking equipment and facilities, but if you are milking goats for your family's milk supply, you have more leeway. 

Of course, you'll want to milk your goats as hygienically as possible, so you'll have the best-tasting and healthiest goat milk possible.

Goat milking equipment

You can buy new equipment and supplies for your new venture, or you can improvise by using items you may already have.

Like any new venture, the equipment and supplies can be a large up-front expense. You can "make do" with some of the supplies at first, and other items you'll want to purchase before you begin milking.

This post includes affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure here.

Some goats aren't very happy when you first begin milking them, including my Nubian doe Dream. She definitely wasn't a dream on the milk stand! 

I might have given up if a friend hadn't given me these eight tips for training a goat to behave on the milk stand.

Here are my six must-have goat milking supplies and equipment

#1 - Milking stand to restrain your goat

A goat milking stand or goat stanchion is the usual method of restraining a goat to be milked, but there are alternatives. 

A metal milking stand will cost upwards of $500 unless you can find a used one for sale.

A wooden goat milking stand is easy to make at home if you're handy (or know someone who is).

Brown alpine goat on a red wooden milking stand

The Chief (my husband) built this wooden milking stand for me when we first bought our goats, but we lost it in the barn fire. 

A milk goat standing on a blue and pink goat milking stand.

I bought this metal milk stand from my neighbor for $15. The metal deck, where the goat stands, has a rusted-out hole in it but a piece of one-inch-thick plywood fits on top and works just fine. 

All of the paint had worn off, so I spray-painted it blue and pink.

It's ugly, but $15 is a far cry from $500 or more!

You'll notice that this milking stand doesn't have a way to secure a feeder to the front like my wooden stand did. I set a cooler in front of the stand and set my feeder on top. It's the perfect height, even though it isn't pretty. 

The biggest advantage of using a milking stand - besides restraining your goat - is that it gets the goat up off the ground, which is much easier on your back.

How to milk a goat without a stand

No funds to buy a milking stand? You can still restrain your goat with a little ingenuity. 

When I took my goats to the county fair, I needed to milk them daily but didn't want to take the big, heavy milk stand with me. 

Instead I put the doe's feed on the other side of a cattle panel fence which had holes that were about 6x6 inches. She put her head through the fence to eat her feed, and I'd snap her collar to the fence. 

By doing this in a corner, the goat stood against the fence and couldn't dance away from me. (I had to sit on the concrete floor though.)

#2 - A milking bucket

Next - and obviously - you'll need something to catch the milk in. I recommend a seamless, stainless steel container.

Seamless - because it can be very difficult to clean around a seam. Dirt and germs can easily get caught in that "lip" and will definitely affect the taste and longevity of the goat milk.

Stainless steel - because plastic retains odors and, in my opinion, will transfer those odors to the milk. I also wonder if it will retain bacteria. I just don't think plastic can be cleaned well enough for milking. 

I also prefer a milking bucket that has a lid and a handle, so I can easily carry it to the house. The lid prevents dust and hair drifting in - maybe even a random bug.

Some people use glass canning jars, milking one teat at a time. Personally, I don't use glass around my animals for safety reasons. Plus, obviously, it takes twice as long to milk one teat at a time.

Goat milking bucket with lid

I have a milking 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 my aim has never been that great. 

I remove the lid to milk, and put it back on when I'm finished. I drape a dish towel over the lid as I carry it back to the house to cover that "hole."

Amazon has a 3.5-quart dairy bucket made of stainless steel, with seamless construction, a bail (handle) and lid, also available in other sizes.

I've also used a stainless steel stockpot similar to this one as an alternative to a goat milking bucket. The stockpot's 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. On the other hand, it holds a lot of milk!

Some folks use plastic containers such as ice cream buckets. They have a handle - and a lid - but milk is heavy and that handle might fail or even break.

#3 - Cleaning supplies for your goat's udder

Your goat has been laying on straw, dirt and so on before she came into the barn to be milked. I don't want any of that debris falling into my milk bucket, and I'm sure you don't either.

Some of the items that will help you clean your goat before milking are brushes, udder wash, teat dip, udder wipes, and udder balm.

Use a soft brush like this one to remove hair, straw and other debris from the goat's belly. 

You'll also need to clean the doe's udder before milking. You can purchase dairy udder wash or use a homemade formula. 

I use a homemade udder wash made from a quart of water, 2-3 Tablespoons of vinegar, and a drop or two of dishwashing detergent. Some goat owners use a splash of bleach instead of vinegar.

Soft washcloths can be used with the udder wash to wash and dry the teats before milking. I cut old, worn flannel shirts into 8" squares to use instead of washcloths. 

If you prefer quick, easy and convenient solutions, these disposable goat udder wipes might be what you're looking for.

You'll also need teat spray or dip to use after milking to protect against infection. 

I pour a bit of the homemade udder wash into a disposable cup and dip the goats' teats into it after milking too. I pour out the solution and refill between goats.

Udder balm is optional, but your goats might appreciate it!

Items to clean your goat before milking: washcloths, strip cup, brush.

#4 - A strip cup

A strip cup is simply a small container that holds the first couple of squirts from each teat when you begin to milk your goat.

Cleaning the goat's udder and teats removes the dirt and bacteria on the outside, but you'll also want to catch and discard the first few squirts of the milk from each teat, so you can dispose of bacteria inside the teat too.

Collecting the first stream of milk from each teat in the strip cup also allows you to check for clumps, flakes and clots in the milk that might mean mastitis.

I use a small plastic cup to collect this first bit of goat milk. In between goats, I dispose of this milk and rinse out the cup. 

Don't use the same cup that held teat dip as your strip cup. Always keep "clean" and "dirty" (or "before" and "after") separate. The strip cup is "before" and the teat dip is "after." 

Cleanliness will help control the spread of bacteria and germs from one goat to another as well.

Tri-colored dairy goat on a blue metal milkstand

#5 - A strainer to strain the milk

Use a stainless steel milk strainer and filters to strain the milk after you get back in the house. I use this stainless steel funnel with a strainer insert which also includes the disposable filters.

#6 - Milk storage containers

When you've finished milking your goat, you'll need containers to store the milk in.

You can buy plastic milk jugs online, which are perfect for those who sell raw milk. 

I use quart Mason jars. I've tried using half gallon jars but found that they are too tall for my refrigerator shelves.

This post tells how I store goat milk for optimum freshness. 

Quart canning jars and lids are handy to store goat milk.

Fresh, delicious goat milk depends a lot on cleanliness and on chilling the milk as soon as possible after milking. Here's how I process fresh goat milk, including my tips for the best-tasting goat milk.

Other items you might need to milk a goat

Of course there are many other products that you might want to use, such as:

  • a set of hobbles if your goat likes to kick while on the milking stand
  • a ramp up to the goat milking stand 
  • sides for your milk stand to keep your goat from falling or jumping off
  • a stool to sit on 
... but these six items are the basics that you'll need to get started.

If you wish to keep track of how much milk each of your goats produces daily, you'll find forms for that (for individual goats and for your herd) in my Goat Record Keeping Sheets set

After several years of being charged by half a dozen goats who each wanted to be first on the milking stand, I made three changes to my milking routine that changed my life and made milking safer. Perhaps you need to make some changes too?

Are you looking for more goat information? Here are all of my goat posts.

As a goat lover and a homestead gardener, I'm excited to also share my gardening tips with you - from planting seeds to enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor! You can find my gardening advice and insights right here, so let's dig in and cultivate some fresh, delicious produce together.

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Nubian milk goat standing in a milking stanchion

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at: 
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