Today was day 1 of milking one of my very own goats.
You may have read a previous post about how my mother kept a small dairy herd many years ago. I have yearned to own my own herd since I was about 20.
Now aged 45, divorced, bringing up and educating my youngest child on my own, in a teeny tiny rented cottage in East Lincs UK, with some rented land and a lot of enthusiasm, I have finally fulfilled a dream.
My two female goats, Marigold and Tansy, were put to a billy in Autumn/Winter 2012.
One was covered back in Oct and one in January and low and behold one has kidded already and is therefore producing milk!
The other female, Marigold, isn’t due to kid until June.
I allow kids to have the first 7 days of their mum’s milk 24/7 and now that they are over a week old I am simply separating them overnight (within sight and smell of one an other) to enable me to milk Tansy early each morning before the kids feed and then I simply put them all back together again.
Tansy doesn’t seem the least bit upset by being in a separate space to the babies overnight. She settles down to chew the cud and rest.
The babies seem quite happy and content too. They have a molasses lick, fresh water and hay to nibble at, if they need it. But to be honest they tend to sleep, snuggled up in the deep straw til morning.
Tansy is far more interested in getting her morning concentrate ration/hay and chopped veggies when I arrive at 6.30 am than she is about getting to her kids.
Whilst she is eating her breakfast I wipe her udders with disposable udder wipes and add a little udder cream to my hands and rub them together to try to warm them up a bit. It is jolly cold at 6:30am and we are experiencing record low temperatures for March here in Lincs UK atm with thick ice/ constant sprinkles of snow and Siberian winds! So my warm hands make the whole process far less of a shock to her warm, full udders.
I talk to her soothingly, pop my little wooden milking stool between my legs and rest my head on her flank and gently start milking. Talking to her all the while” Steady Tansy, good girl, stand still, There’s a clever girl” and so on….
The first few squirts are sent into a special cup called a strip cup, it has a black shelf part way down, with holes to allow milk to pass through and it allows you to check for any problems like flakes, blood, lumps in the milk etc.
As it all looks OK I swap to my stainless steel milking pail.
When milking you must try to keep a regular gentle rhythm going. No pulling on the teats. Just gently close off the milk supply with the gap between thumb and forefinger at the very top of the teat, then gradually close the other fingers as they go down against the teat, one after the other, all in order, pressing the milk lower and lower into the teat until it squirts out into the bucket with a whoosh.
It is a gentle motion, it doesn’t need to be hard work at all but it does use muscles in your hands that you don’t usually use, so can make your hand ache at first until you get used to it.
Tansy has never ever had her udders milked by human hands before, so obviously it takes some getting used to for her too, but gentle but firm handling and a confident attitude worked wonders (plus food of course) and she soon settled down.
I quietly sang a song as I milked her to help her relax and to help me keep a rhythm going 🙂
Today I only milked one udder at a time but once she is more settled and used to the routine I will start milking both udders together in alternate squirts, to save time.
Once I had two soft empty udders in front of me and a half full bucket of frothing fresh milk, I wiped her over again and let the kids in.
They stripped her right out and with the extra demand for milk that my morning milking causes Tansy will very soon make more to meet demand.
The kids then set about bouncing from one log to another in the bench play area at the back of the goat shed. They really love to climb and prance and play.
Tansy is being fed a dairy goat ration twice a day ( morning and evening) and a midday meal of chopped fresh vegetables and fruit, plus ad lib good quality hay 24/7.
She has fresh water twice a day ( served warm with a tiny dot of molasses in) and she has access to a mineral lick and solid paddock vitamin and mineral block for goats too. Once the weather warms up she and the kids can go out into the little exercise paddock that has been rested since Oct, to graze down the grass and wild herbs that grow there.
At our very first milking session my daughter also had a go at playing milk maid for the first time and she managed quite successfully to milk a fair bit into the bucket. She was thrilled! Tansy was a very good girl for her and stood very still.
We came indoors as soon as we were done, in order to quickly filter and cool the milk. Once that was completed it was time to put the kettle on.
We celebrated our landmark event with a nice cup of tea …………….
………………..and of course we used our very own goat’s milk! 🙂
Sorry for the lack of photos but with my hands busy milking I didn’t actually take any pics.
Maybe I will take some of my daughter milking her tomorrow. So watch this space.
Thanks for popping by x