How Changing My Milking Routine Changed My Life

How changing my milking routine changed my life, and 3 tips that might change yours too. From Oak Hill Homestead

Milking a dairy goat (or cow) daily establishes a bond, a very close relationship with that animal. But milking really ties you down too, and it's something to think about when you are contemplating raising dairy animals.

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For various reasons, we no longer breed our goats and we have just three older does in the pasture these days. Milking is no longer part of my day, and I really miss it.

But milking my goats wasn't always pleasant. At one point I had six does in milk plus several dry does and a couple of yearlings in the goat pen. I'd separate the kids in a stall overnight and milk in the morning, which enabled me to milk once a day.

(That tip right there? If you want to have a dairy animal and still have a life,
this is what you need to do! You can read more about milking goats once a day here.
But keep reading, I have more tips to share.)

The does all knew that the milk stand held grain, and they all wanted to be the first goat in the milking stall. Even the yearlings knew.

Can you imagine a herd of goats trying to get through a gate at the same time? It looked like a scene from an old black-and-white TV comedy with all of them trying to get through that gate simultaneously.

I'd try to let just one goat through but I might as well have tried to stop the wind or the sea. I was nearly run over a few times too. It was all too chaotic, and downright dangerous.

Then one morning, out of utter frustration, I did something that changed my life. I put them all in time out, and tied each doe to the fence. And I sat down on an overturned bucket and cried for a few minutes. Maybe more than a few.

Then I realized that I'd stumbled onto something important. This one simple thing - tying them all to the fence - helped make my mornings so much more pleasant. They could no longer try to get through the gate at the same time, and I was in charge!

I used leashes and even the horses' lead ropes at first, one for each goat, but eventually I found a dog tie-out chain on clearance for $2, and cut ten-inch lengths of it with my bolt cutters.

On each end I attached a "spring clip(affiliate link) so I could snap one end to the goat's collar and the other to the fencing in the goats' pen.

(By the way, if you do something similar, cut them shorter than ten inches long. Once I added the spring clips, the chains were longer than I wanted.)

How changing my milking routine changed my life, and 3 tips that might change yours too. From Oak Hill Homestead

Sometime later, I asked a friend who made rope halters to make a dozen of these for me, to replace the chains and snap clips I'd been using. That piece of hardware in the middle is called a "rope clamp." Amazon carries an assortment of rope clamps but if you Google the term you'll find even more sources.

Milking was so much easier! Each goat was clipped to the fence and given some grain in her own bucket. Each doe had exactly the amount I wanted her to have. The more dominant goats couldn't run the others away from their buckets. The slow eaters could eat uninterrupted.

The milkers were given additional grain on the milk stand. The yearlings had just enough feed - and they learned the milking routine too. Genius!

I was able to let one goat in the milking stall at a time, while the others were still tied to the fence. They learned to stand quietly and wait for their turn. When I finished milking one doe, I clipped her back to her spot on the fence and unclipped the next one.

Now I was able to milk in the same order every morning. Instead of milking whichever goat came into the milking stall next, I could choose the next goat to be milked.

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.

In the beginning I milked the herd queen first, but eventually I ranked them by ease of milking. If you've ever milked multiple goats and had aching hands afterwards, or been awakened in the middle of the night by hands that were cramped and sore, try this tip.

The doe with the fat teats that were hard on my hands became my first-to-be-milked goat. She behaved well on the milkstand, but if I milked her last, my hands were already stiff and tired and just weren't up to the task.

So I started with her each morning, and ended with the doe with the softest, easiest-to-milk udder. Wish, my herd queen, fell somewhere in the middle, much to her dislike.

My three tips:

When all were milked, the does were moved to the pasture and I let the kids out of their stall to spend the day with their moms. They nursed all day long and I only had to milk once a day. Hubby appreciated that part: we had more flexibility in what we could do and where we could go in the afternoons.

Are your goats unruly and out of control? Train them to behave at feeding time and on the milk stand by changing your milking routine.

If a twice-a-day milking schedule keeps you from having dairy animals, try the once-a-day method. If your mornings are beyond crazy and your goats are out of control, tie them to the fence before you start milking. And if your hands ache after milking several goats, try milking the hardest-on-your-hands doe first and the easiest one last.

It just might change your homesteading life.

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Related posts:
The How and Why of Milking Once a Day
How to Train Your Goat to the Milkstand
10 Must-Have Items for Goatkeepers

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