How to Milk Your Goats Just Once a Day

A white doeling in the kids' overnight pen.

Are you wishing you could have dairy goats but don't want to milk them twice a day? You don't have to be tied down to milking your goats every twelve hours. Here is how you can milk goats just once a day.

How to milk your goats just once a day

Dairy goats, like other mammals, only produce milk after they have given birth to their kids. 

Most dairy farms, whether they raise and milk goats or cows, take the babies away from the mothers soon after birth. 

The babies, either kids or calves, are raised on a bottle, and the does or cows are milked twice per day, twelve hours apart, for maximum milk yield.

That's a lot of milk! And a lot of time spent milking, too. You can decide on the time you will milk each day, whether it's at 4 am, or 6 am, 8 am or even later, but twelve hours later, you need to milk again.

And tomorrow you need to milk at the same time that you milked today.

It will really tie you down. And if you are the only milkmaid in the family, that task will always be yours. For the next 8-10 months. Every day.

Or you can milk them once per day like I do!

Keep in mind that you still need to milk every 24 hours. You can't decide to milk at 6 am today and at 10 am tomorrow. Pick a time and stick to it.

However, I'm also going to share a secret with you about NOT milking for a day, or a weekend, or while you're on vacation! Keep reading!

The secret behind once-a-day milking

There is a secret to goat keeping and not being tied down to a 12-hour milking schedule.

You can let your does raise their kids, have fresh goat milk in the refrigerator and still have a life by milking once per day. And this secret made my husband very happy!

There are two groups of people who milk dairy goats: those who "pull" the kids at birth and bottle feed them (like the dairy farmers I talked about above), and those who let the does raise their kids.

I'm not going to say that one method is better than the other. Each person's choice is the best choice for their situation, just as I've made the best choice for my family.

For the most part I've let my does raise their own kids, although there have been exceptions. Sometimes a doe will reject her kid, or one of her kids if she has multiples. Occasionally a doe dies after kidding. 

Your doe might be CAE positive, and you need to separate the kids at birth and bottle feed them to keep the disease from transferring through their mother's milk.

Sometimes you just don't have a choice.

But when you do have the choice, dam raising is good for someone with an unpredictable schedule. You're not tied down to feeding bottles at four-hour intervals throughout the day and milking the does every twelve hours. 

Being tied down was my husband's strong objection to my milking goats.

Although if you buy a bottle baby to add to your herd, you're tied down to that bottle schedule anyway. But you knew what you were getting into when you brought that adorable baby home, right?

By letting my goats raise their own babies, the only milking I have to do is to keep their teats even. New kids often choose one teat to nurse from and ignore the other side. This would result in the neglected teat becoming engorged, which leads to a very uncomfortable goat, possible mastitis, and a less-than-pretty udder.

To prevent this from happening, check your newly-freshened goat's udder and milk one side if needed to keep the teats relatively even. Usually as the kids get a little older they start nursing from both sides.

But I don't have to milk every twelve hours, or even every day. I let my does nurse their kids for three weeks before I begin milking my goats. This is called "dam raising."

Brown and white Nubian goat kid in a field of clover.

When I start milking my goats

Then I start milking once per day. Here's how it works.

When to start separating kids from the does

When the kids are about three weeks old, I start separating them from their moms overnight so that I can milk in the morning.

If you leave the kids with their mothers, there won't be any milk in the morning when you walk into the barn with your milking bucket.

The kids will have already had breakfast, and they didn't leave you any milk. So in order to milk a goat, you need to separate the kids from their moms.

I don't separate a single kid unless I have no other choice - I wait until there are two or more that are old enough. 

Twins are easy - they have a built-in buddy - but if I have a single kid I wait until there are other kids that are old enough so they will have company overnight.

So if, for instance, there is a three-week-old kid and a two-week-old kid, I wait until the youngest is three weeks old. If there is a three-week-old kid and a set of twins that are just ten days old, I wait until the twins are three weeks old and put all three of them in the kid pen overnight.

The first few evenings can be a bit of a rodeo to catch the little ones, but eventually they realize that it's fun to have a slumber party every night where Mom can't tell them to settle down and go to sleep. Best of all, there is a dish of grain and their own hay feeder in the kid stall.

By morning, the goats' udders are full and I can milk. This is usually more than enough milk for our family's use. The doe will "hold back" enough milk for her kid, but I don't milk her completely either.

Here's what you'll need to milk your goats:

How to separate the goat kids from their dams

Use a separate stall in your barn or shed where the kids can spend the night. 

It might be as simple as blocking off a corner of your goat shed. Whatever you rig up, be sure it's safe for the kids, and impossible for them to get out of.

Use fencing that the kid can't poke his or her muzzle through. Many a goat kid has nursed through a fence. The doe will scoot up right next to the barrier, the kid reaches through the fencing wire and you have no milk in the morning.

Provide clean bedding and fresh hay for the babies, and entice them inside their stall with their own dish and a bit of grain. After a night or two, they'll willingly go inside.

In the morning, after you milk the goats, let them all out into their pen or pasture together. The kids will nurse throughout the day and you won't need to milk in the evening.

Black and white Nubian dairy goat on milk stand.

If you'd rather milk in the evening

If you work a day job or, for whatever reason, you'd prefer to milk in the evening, you can do that instead. Separate the kids from their mothers during the day, milk in the evening, and let them cuddle together all night long.

This isn't quite as ideal as milking in the morning, but you can make it work if that's the only way you can milk goats.

The advantages of milking once a day

There are three big advantages to milking just once a day:

  • You don't have to milk in the evening. The kids have taken care of that by nursing all day. Just separate them at bedtime and milk the next morning. Then let them out together for the rest of the day.
  • You don't have to bottle-feed. The does produce enough milk for your use and enough to grow their babies. Even after being milked in the morning, the does "hold back" enough milk for the kids to have breakfast, and they have a ready supply all day long.
  • If you have to be somewhere early in the morning, you don't have to milk at all. Simply leave the kids with their moms overnight - or separate them as usual and open the gate in the morning so they are reunited. All the milk that was stored up overnight becomes the kids' breakfast.

The disadvantage of milking once a day

Yes, there are disadvantages to milking once per day too. I think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, but you might not.

  • You'll get less milk. Even if the kids have been weaned, if you are milking once per day, you'll get less milk than if you milk twice daily. You're sharing with her babies.
  • You'll need a separate place to keep the kids overnight, away from their mothers. If you keep your goats in a small shed, this might be a problem. Always provide a safe, secure place for the kids. You don't want a kid or a doe to become entangled or trapped or hurt by trying to be reunited.

Click here to subscribe to The Acorn, Oak Hill Homestead's weekly-ish newsletter.

Weaning goat kids

I usually wean the buck kids when they are between two and three months old. It's safer for the doe kids to be separated from the boys, plus buck kids can be quite hard on their dam's udder. 

I let the doe kids stay longer with their mothers, and continue separating them at night so I can milk in the morning.

When you wean a doe who only has buck kids, she'll need to be milked twice daily for awhile. Her kids won't be with her during the day to nurse, but her body will continue to produce the same amount of milk. 

Usually after a few weeks I can stop the twice-daily milking of the does whose buck kids have been weaned, and go back to once-a-day milking. 

A doe with a pair of buck/doe twins can continue to be milked once a day in the morning after her buckling has been weaned. The doeling is happy to have that extra milk, and after awhile the doe's body will adapt and not produce so much milk.

I believe that this longer period of nursing gets doe kids off to an even better start on a life of producing kids and milk. 

In fact, I've waited as long as six months to wean doe kids, depending on what else is going on in my life at the time, and how the doelings are growing. 

Another benefit of once-a-day milking

You can go on vacation! Seriously! 

I've gone out of town for several days and not had to hire a goat-milking friend. It can be very hard to find someone who can come milk your goats while you're gone.

I still need a farm sitter (or else my husband stays home) to feed my livestock while I'm away, but farm sitters are much easier to find than someone who can milk goats.

Simply leave the goat kids with their mothers while you're gone. There's no need to have someone do the milking when the kids can do it themselves.

Of course, if you plan to go out of town after you wean the goat kids and you're milking twice or even just once daily, you'll need someone to milk the goats for you. 

So plan your vacation between kidding and weaning seasons - and plan your breeding season around your vacation. Here's how to figure out when to breed your goats.

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.

Once-a-day milking is the perfect answer for my family, and maybe for yours too

I've found once-a-day milking to be the perfect answer for me and my family.

  • Hubby is happy that I'm not tied down to a rigid scheduled in the evening (we don't have to rush home by 5:00 pm so I can milk the goats). 
  • I can skip the morning milking if I need to be somewhere early, such as a medical appointment. 
  • In the hot summer months I can milk during the cool morning hours and not milk during the hot evening. 
  • My does raise the kids, which gets them off to a great start in life.
  • I'm not tied down by bottle feeding.
  • I can go out of town if needed.
  • And we have fresh milk in the refrigerator!

Do you have a problem goat? Here are my tips to train a goat to the milkstand.

I changed my milking routine and it changed my life! Here's what I changed.

Looking for more goat info? I've rounded up all my goat posts in one place, including a set of free recordkeeping printables for your herd.

For more homesteading and simple living encouragement and ideas, subscribe to The Acorn, my weekly-ish newsletter, and follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

A white goat kid.


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: 
  Facebook | InstagramPinterest | Subscribe