We've been getting questions lately about milking. Some people aren't
sure if they want to milk their goats or not, or even what it requires. We're
not a dairy, but we do milk our does after the kids are weaned or sold. It
takes work, but we enjoy the milk.
DOES GOAT MILK TASTE "GOATY"? There are things you can do
(or avoid doing) to minimize the goaty taste. Keeping the milking does
away from the buck seems to help. We keep our does separate and our
milk isn't very strong in taste. Careful cleaning practices are very
important, too, as is chilling the milk quickly and keeping it covered and
out of sunlight. Certain plants and even musty feed can give the milk an
HOW MUCH MILK DOES A NIGERIAN DWARF GIVE?
Two of our does give approximately one pound a day (that roughly equals
a quart of milk. Milk is weighed rather than being measured by volume, as
the foam on top of the milk makes volume measurement inaccurate.) Our
other doe gives slightly less. Keep in mind that we do not milk intensively
or milk year-round. In any case, a quart a day seems to be about average
for Nigerian Dwarves.
HOW MUCH TIME DOES IT TAKE?
I would caution anyone that milking, like anything else, takes time. Not
only do you have to milk rain, shine, sleet or heat, you have to clean up
afterwards :) Most people milk twice a day at intervals ranging from 8 to
12 hours apart.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO MILK A GOAT? The first is a healthy,
lactating doe that is willing to be milked! We have a wonderful, gentle
mother doe who can only be milked under great duress. She hates being
milked, so I don't force her unless absolutely necessary.
In addition to a doe, you'll need a stainless steel pail that fits under your
Nigerian's belly (they don't seem to make hooded pails in small enough
sizes), a milk strainer with filters, a strip cup, sterilized containers in which
to keep the milk, baby wipe or some type of disinfectant to clean the doe's
udder, and Clorox bleach (not cheap bleach). You can pasteurize the milk
in a double-boiler at first.
You might also want a raised milking stand, which saves your back, and a
stanchion (a "head-catcher" to help hold the doe still) with an attached
feed pan. You might also want a stainless milk carrier, a scale to weigh the
milk, and special detergents to clean your equipment. Further along, you
can invest in a pasteurizing machine or even a milking machine. You can
see the type of equipment available at some of the dairy goat supply
houses on the internet. Some companies even have "starter" packages.