6 Items You Must Have to Milk a Goat

Six must-have items you need to successfully 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.

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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 goat milking must haves:

#1 - A way to restrain your goat

A milk stand is the usual method, but there are other alternatives. A metal milk stand 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.

You'll need a way to restrain your goat.  (c) Oak Hill Homestead

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 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 in the weather, so 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 milk stand 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 to catch the goat milk. 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 I've never gotten the hang of it.

I've also used a stainless steel stockpot similar to this one; 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.

You'll need something to milk into. (c) Oak Hill Homestead

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. And it takes twice as long to milk one side at a time.

#3 - A way to clean your goat before and after you milk

A brush to remove hair and stray pieces of straw from the goat's belly, udder wash to clean the udder, and a soft washcloth or rag to wash and dry the teats before you milk are must-haves.

Worn flannel shirts cut into 8" squares are the perfect size for this. I submerge enough cloths for the morning or evening milking in the plastic jar of udder wash, and pull one out as I get ready to milk each goat. After washing the goat's teats the used cloth goes into another "to launder" container. A second clean, dry rag is used to dry the teats, and then put in the "to launder" container.

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.

You'll also need a teat spray or dip after milking. There are products online and in your feed store; I use the same udder wash recipe. I pour a bit in a plastic cup to dip each teat and let them air-dry. I pour out and refill the cup between goats.

Items to keep your milk clean: washcloths, strip cup, brush. (c) Oak Hill Homestead

#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. This is NOT the same cup I use to dip teats after milking.

Goat in milkstand. (c) Oak Hill Homestead

#5 - A strainer to strain the milk

You can buy a stainless steel milk strainer and filters to strain the milk after you get back in the house, or you can improvise. I use this stainless steel funnel with a strainer insert which also includes the filters.

#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 my refrigerator.

You'll need containers for the milk. (c) Oak Hill Homestead

Plastic lids that fit Mason jars are available in the housewares section of many stores as well as at Amazon. They come in both regular mouth and wide mouth sizes, or you can buy this set of colorful Mason jar lids that includes half a dozen lids in both sizes.

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 milk stand, a ramp up to the milk stand 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.

After several years of being charged by half a dozen goats who wanted to be first on the milk 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, including a set of free printables.

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The 6 items you must have to milk your goat.

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  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.

  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.

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

  4. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead7:37 AM

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

  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

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