It is that time of year again. The babies are all born – the baby goats and the lambs. They are hopping around the barn and doing kamikaze flips all over the place. We have sold all the baby goats and the final new parents are picking the last two up this weekend. Thus, it is MILKING TIME on the farm! We still have several little ones that we purchased for new breeding stock (dair goats) and have a blind little lamb that we bottle feed as well. So, that will continue. But, as of now the babies are off the mamas and I will be milking twice a day for the foreseeable future. I love this part of farming as it is so very peaceful to be in the milking zone with my does.
So, what does the morning look like for all of you who are wanting to get into dairy goats? I am going to take you through my morning steps from kitchen to barn to kitchen again in terms of all things dairy.
First, prepare all your items you want to take down to the barn from the kitchen. We are an organic farm and I am a clean freak. You need to be. Sanitation is critical to healthy dairy at home.
Above you will see the items I collect in my bag every morning and evening. All implements are sanitized after every use and left to air dry. They are then re-assembled to head back to the barn in the next round of milking. Note there are three milking bottles, two inside the milk carrying tote and to the left. These are bottles for our two bottle fed kids and our blind preme lamb. They are heated to 100 degrees. We use pritchert nipples that are smaller for the little ones and I carry the nipple seperately. I have the normal lid on the soda bottles now filled with warm milk. This way the milk does not spill in transport.
I assemble everything inside while my most amazing husband tends to the dogs, chickens and seed starts that are now being hardened off and get rolled out on a table each morning. He then picks me up in “Ranger” and we head to the livestock barn together. This was him this morning. As you can see, flowers are all blooming now as Spring is here and warm days have arrived.
Mike hays the horses and gets grain and hay to take down to the cows and alpacas in our other pastures. I first set out all my tools and milk products and proceed to first bottle feed the babies before the big boys and girls get fed. I first feed our little preme blind lamb Rambo. He drinks a whole bottle of milk three times a day.
Once Lambo is done bottle feeding, I cap off that bottle. I put a clean nipple on the goat milk bottles and head into my baby kid stall. I milk those babies who crawl all over me and nibble my ears trying to nurse. They think I am their mom. Which of course is alright with me since they are so snuggly and cute! I love my babies.
Once they are done eating, I grain all the ewes and their lambs and the does, fill their water and set up my milking stand area. First, always comes on the the country music then I flip over my bucket as my bench and I bring the first doe out. I milk each one individually while they eat more grain while on the milking stand.
So above it is interesting how we do this. First, there is my music right there. We have the milking stand directly under the light for good visibility at any time of day or night. Our barn is completely off the grid and on solar. So, solar light placement matters for activities such as this. Next, note that there is grain in the little bin. She has her head inside of a wooden space that claps to keep her there. It does not have pressure or anything. The does dont mind as they love milking. They get their grain and their udders get a pressure release as the build up of milk makes udders tender. Notice as well there is a little bottle hanging off the milking stand at the left. This is my udder cleaner with diluted iodine in it. I do two things to keep the does still while milking because any dairy person will tell you, when the grain is up, they figet in order to get more grain. Or, they kick at flies and spill milk all over everything. So, I use hobbles so they can not kick and hit the milk pail. Second, these smart little cookies will learn to lie down on their stomachs to get more grain. So, I use a horse cinch to hold up their bellies so they do not develop that bad habit.
I want to show you the milk collection pan I use. I usually have a filter inside the center strainer, but here I do not as I am milking them out for milk for the babies. But, apart from that, note the low and wide nature of the container below. This is a necessary type of set up since the belly of the goat is low to the ground. So, I milk into this and then dump the milk periodically in the milk tote that you saw in the first picture I presented.
I clean their udders before I milk them and then after I milk them. The reason for this is to first remove bacteria before you milk. Then when you are done, to keep the teat clean so bacteria does not develop after you are done milking.
Once each doe is done, they go back in their pens and I head up to the house with all my implements I packed down to the barn.
The next process is to immediately take the milk and strain it with a filter into containers that go directly into the fridge. Milk handling is the biggest cause of poor tasting milk. We process everything within ten minutes of being back up at the house.
And then, viola, you have this – milk, eggs and all the other wonderful things that come from the farm. We get a gallon of milk a day right now. I will begin to start making our soap products and processing the milk for milk for drinking, butter, yogurt, ice cream, cheese and cottage cheese starting next week.
We hope this was informative for all you homesteaders and our clients who are just getting into the dairy goat journey.
God Bless! L. Davis