How to milk a goat by hand
Milk is for babies and all species provide the perfect first nourishment for their young. Chinese people don't have milk and milk products in their adult diet, but still are rather successful reproducing plentifully. Other societies around the world do add fresh milk to their diet which can still be called "healthy food" as long as it's not UHT or pasteurised milk which is simply dead and harmful to health. So let's make our own.
First, buy a proper goat
That's easier said than done, because no breeder will give you their best animal. To start learning to milk, see if you can't make friends with someone who has a milk goat and teaches you. If not, go and buy a milk goat from a good breeder where you can "see" that they are milked by hand or with a machine. A young goat that is not used to milking will simply sit down as soon as you touch her and then what do you do?
Milk goats come with big udders and small udders and all have much shorter teats than cows. And if an udder is really full, it's quite difficult to get started with the milking process. We had read up on everything before we bought our first milk goat and finally opted for an "elderly" animal that was definitely used to being milked by hand. She had had kids some time ago and when little "Blanca" arrived on our farm, I immediately tried to milk her but no milk was coming out of her teats whatever I tried. Well, a friend of mine had only showed me how to milk once and that was some time ago. So again and again I tried, Blanca was a patient animal! It seemed that her teats were a bit clogged and I didn't "press" hard enough. Well, it took me 2 hours to get a litre of milk out of her in the beginning, but after a while I could do it in less than 10 minutes. First I always milked one teat, first from the right, then the other teat from the left, but soon I learnt to do both teats at the same time and so the job was quickly done.
A proper milk stand
I had read about them before, but my friend didn't have one, so I thought I don't need one either. I soon learnt that it's easier on MY back if the goat is standing on a sort of table and Blanca loved her table because I had tied a bucket with her favourite grains in the front of this table. She "enjoyed" her grains while being milked and soon even jumped on the table all by herself when she saw me coming with the milking bowl and the bucket of grains.
The milking process
Goats are fairly "clean" animals, but one should wash the udder before milking if it's dirty. Sit down on a chair and place the bowl under the udder. Make sure that you are quick to remove the bowl if the goat gets frightened by something and steps by mistake into the fresh milk.
Now everything in place, pinch the top of the teat (closest to the udder) with your thumb and index finger. That traps the milk in the teat and it can't be pressed back up into the udder. Then, slowly close the other fingers one by one to enclose the teat until it's inside your "fist". The slow closing of the other fingers should make the milk come out in a squirt. If not, check that the teat hole is not clogged by dirt or old milk. Clean and try again. At first, maybe you only get a tiny little bit of milk out of the teat, but persevere and soon you'll get into a sort of rhythm and more and more milk will squirt out. After the milk has squirted out, release all fingers and wait a second until new milk has entered into the teat again. Then pinch again and close the fingers to a "fist".
Do not EVER pull the teats or udder downwards. It hurts the goat and will not ever produce any milk. Just pinch and close to fist, pinch and close to fist, that's all there is too it and even if it takes a while to learn to do it fast, it will work even for a newbie milker.
Then do the other side. It's not really necessary to completely empty the udder, the milk does stay fresh in there, but the more one milks a goat, the more she will give after having kids. They probably "think" that they've got twins. One day, Blanca had kids and so I just milked her in the morning once and the rest of the day, the milk she produced was for her babies. No problem.
After having finished milking her I did try every day (I really did!) to get ALL the milk up to the house, but always failed. No, I didn't spill it. It was so delicious, I always had to have "lots of sips" on the way. But well, fresh milk doesn't spoil so quickly, so normally we had enough for adding to breakfast cereals, making pan-cakes or Halloumi cheese.
Blanca gave us approximately 2 litres of milk every day for 2 years, but I did feed her grains as well while milking. During the day she was out foraging and in the evening she went into the stable to eat some dried alfalfa. Then she had kids again, etc.
And maybe before you think of having a milk goat, think about what you will do with her kids. Every year or two a goat needs to have kids to produce milk. Do you want to keep your own male (not advisable). Do you know somebody who has one that can be borrowed? What do you want to do with the offspring? Slaughter or sell?
Modern red tape for farm animals, moving licenses etc. make acquiring a milk goat difficult, but in my opinion, it's so worth all the trouble!
If you have any experience in training a young goat for milking I would be glad if you left me a comment in the comment box below, or sign up free with Wikinut.com http://www.wikinut.com/in/zchj/ and write an article about it. I'm sure I won't be the only one who will read and appreciate your experiences.
Thanks for calling in!