Milking goats… world’s best kept secret!

Anyone but me would just say, “I’ve got a dairy goat & I’m milking her”.  But of course, not me… I’ve got to make a novel out of this episode of my life… so here’s my story!

A few weeks ago our friend & priest Fr. William visited with some of his cousins from Africa.  They were amazed that I have goats as pets.  The fact that I don’t eat them or milk them was a concept they could not comprehend.  Pet goats?  What da heck for?

Gabriel explained to us that when he lived at home in Kenya, every morning before walking 5 or 6 miles to school, he had to hand milk the entire herd of about 20 goats.  Sometimes other members of the family (or families), would pitch in but it was just another chore.  Gabriel seemed nostalgic as he related that experience…

So here we are standing around watching the goats & Gabriel asked if he could milk Molly.  Her kids had left a few weeks ago & she was still bagged up pretty solid.  We put Molly in the stanchion and within a few seconds, we had a full glass of warm, frothy milk!  It all happened quite quickly.  No hand washing, no udder cleaning… just squeeze, squeeze & there it was… a full glass of creamy, fresh milk! Gabriel & Fr William thoroughly enjoyed their little treat.  I didn’t taste the milk that Molly gave us… I’m not a clean freak but that was a little too “raw” for me.  I’m sure I just imagined it but I thought there were little hairs in the milk & and maybe some dirt specs.

So that got me thinking that maybe we should “harvest” this milk so I started doing a little bit of research.   I’d found several milking systems but all I had was one little goat – I needed something simple!  That’s when I came across the Henry Milker.   This is a nice little hand made device that uses a little pump, some clear tubing, a large syringe & a Mason jar.  It’s really not worth $125 but then again, it does what it advertises & the fellow told me if I wasn’t happy with it, I could send it back for a full refund.

Poor Molly, she didn’t have a good udder to start with. She had had twins April 4th and they grew big & strong very quickly. They put quite a strain on her bag. When Easter & Lilly left for their new home when they were 8 weeks old, little Peppy realized that he could nurse from her (his mom had been sold a week after Molly’s girls had left). He’d grab a teat and hold on while she tried to “stiffly” run away (Molly is a Myotonic Fainting goat).

I first started milking her & was really enjoying the experience. Although Molly had plenty of milk, it just didn’t seem right to continue to milk her with her teats so distended. I was afraid they’d eventually “detach”. So I started shopping for a dairy goat. Research was unanimous. Saanen‘s are the best milk producers of the dairy goats.

Luckily, less than 10 minutes from here is a small dairy farm that raises Saanens. The next day after chatting with Miss Parker, I was picking up Frosty. Miss Parker & I quickly became friends and within a few days, my husband Scott & I were there learning the process of making goat milk cheese. We felt that everyone should know about this & so Scott put together a website for Miss Parker… GoatsGotMilk Although it is up and running, at this time there’s very little content. We’ll have a “For Sale” page with pictures of each doe & her registration documents. More to come on that!

For reasons only Frosty knows, her production is only about half of what she should deliver. Right now I’m getting about 1/4 gallon, twice a day. Even if this is much less that what it should be, its plenty for Scott & I. We’ve never drank so much milk before! Going from 2% cow’s milk to raw goat milk is quite the radical change but we love it!

Milking is something that must be done twice daily at a regular time. It’s a chore but one that I’ve come to look forward to. I’ve lived in the “big” city most of my life (Montreal) & I’ve had my little farm for about 3 years; still it is amazing to me to obtain this life-giving produce from one of my animals. This is so much better than raising animals for meat consumption!

Here are a couple of videos of me milking Frosty. Please note that all my jars have been thoroughly cleaned; my towels are washed & rinsed in a mixture of Dawn dish washing detergent with Clorox. The components of the milker are also washed with the same solution and so are Frosty’s teats before & after milking. She makes her own way to the stanchion and often times remains there munching even when I release her.

I empty my jar between teats – reason being is that this procedure works well by creating a vacuum.  When the jar is half full, there is less of a vacuum & it affects the speed at which the milk flows.  Note that sometimes I pronounce “teats”, “tits”… not sure how to say it – seems like everyone around here pronounces it differently.  I made the mistake of calling them “nipples” & I was kindly corrected.  But then again, Miss Parker says “Teats” & my neighbor says “Tits”.. whatever!!!

The entire milking is over within 3 minutes.  It takes me longer to prep everything, clean & put everything away than it does to actually “pull” the milk!  Naturally this video is very “matter of fact” but when it’s just Frosty & I, it’s a very therapeutic time.  For both of us!  Frosty gets her favorite food, gets her ears & chest scratched and receives some tasty “Nicker Bocker” horse treats when we’re done!

The secret to good, fresh tasting goat milk is keeping everything clean & chilling the milk as quickly as possible. I don’t have a fridge in the barn but I bring an icepack cooler with me and immediately put the jars in the cooler so they stay cool until they get to the fridge about 20 minutes later. It also helps if you don’t have a stinky buck in close vicinity! Odor in the air will quickly be absorbed by the milk.

So there you have it! I hope you’ve found this post interesting.. please let me know if you have!

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12 Responses to Milking goats… world’s best kept secret!
  1. Thomas Massingale
    January 29, 2011 | 7:08 pm

    Very good video, matter of fact I had already found this on you tube and sent it to mississippi for my friends there as we were debating on whether to buy the milker or not.
    P.S we had some good laughs reading your post about what you have learned while down south.

  2. [...] visit the blog of The Crazy Goat Lady to see videos of this milker actually being used! Blog this! Recommend on [...]

  3. Anna Seitzer
    January 12, 2011 | 10:53 pm

    Hi there! I just got my Henry Milker today and wanted to see what others have to say about it and I came across your nice blog. I know it sounds like I should’ve done that first before I bought it, but actually my husband surprised me with it so here I am :)

    Thank you for posting the videos, quite helpful and great to see what I get to look forward to! I still have a couple months before my La Mancha does begin to freshen and get to try it out. I hope I won’t be disappointed.

    • Christine
      January 13, 2011 | 2:10 am

      Hi Anna! Your family will really enjoy the Henry Milker! It’s a real nifty device & I cannot say enough about it. I was so impressed with it that I became internet friends with Henry himself.. another beautiful goat person! If you encounter any problems, email him & he’ll reply immediately. You might want to subscribe to his blog – it’s a new feature he’s got on his website.

      In case you’re not doing so, start training your dairy goats now – not all goats stand to be milked voluntarily. Get them used to jumping on the goat stand/stanchion daily for a little bit of grain & “fondle” their udder while they’re munching. I have a beautiful fainting goat that will absolutely fight me if I even touch her teats! With a goat like my Molly, no milker is going to work, no matter how great it is!

      Anyhow, please stay in touch!

  4. Joy
    December 30, 2010 | 5:18 pm

    I love my Saanens, and my one milker that I’m milking through this year gives me 3 quarts a day. I’m looking into the Henry Milker as my hands are not what they used to be.

    BTW, Saanen is not pronounced with a long A, but with a short one, as in father. So, Sahnen, rather than Saynen. :) Just thought you’d like to know.

    • Christine
      December 30, 2010 | 6:08 pm

      Joy, thanks for the pronunciation correction… I was never sure how to say it! I love my Henry Milker – it’s very easy, clean & efficient. Very easy on your hands – just keep a couple of mason jars handy for a quick change. My Frosty is (was) not a big producer… I quart in the a.m. & 1 in the p.m. Which was more than enough just for hubby & I! I also need to mention that Mike Henry is a great guy – if you don’t like your milker, he’ll take it back. It took me a few times to get the hang of it but once I got going, I was going!

  5. Mike Henry
    September 5, 2010 | 9:01 pm

    New Henry Milker website
    Just wanted to let folks know that I recently started a new website for the Henry Milker, http://www.henrymilker.com

    I was hoping to get some pictures of people using the Henry Milker to put on the site and hear some more feedback on the new logo and site, if there are any users out there that would be interested in sending me some, that would be great. Hope to hear from you.

    Mike

    • Christine
      September 6, 2010 | 6:30 am

      Mike, will be happy to post about your new website… the best method of free advertisement is a Facebook page! You should give that a shot – it will bring business your way for sure! I have videos of your little milker on my Youtube… Feel free to use them if you like!

      Christine

  6. Linda
    June 25, 2010 | 1:48 am

    Thank you for sharing with the video’s! I made a vacuum milker when my goat first freshened. I didn’t get very far then, but I think I will try it again… thanks again!

    • Christine
      June 25, 2010 | 6:01 am

      When I received my milker & realized what I got for $125 I was shocked! But hey, it works & I now have an example of how to make my next one. The little pumps needed to make is work, can only be found in the UK.

      • Bonnie
        December 8, 2010 | 7:52 am

        My goats get most of my money so $125 is too much for me to pay for a milking apparatus – and it’s now $130. I’m just getting ready for my 1st shot at milking them. Do you happen to know what the little pump is called or where it’s available in the UK? I can’t seem to find it – but my search skills aren’t the greatest. Thanks so much. Bonnie

        • Christine
          December 16, 2010 | 8:16 am

          Bonnie, sorry for the delay in replying… I have not seen a better product than the Henry Milker but someone told me that they modified a woman’s breast pump and it worked fine! You just need to find a large syringe to put over the teat (replacing the breast cup). Good luck!