Goat Lactation and Milking Chart
Whether goats are milked by hand or by machine, care must be taken to produce a clean, wholesome product and to prevent injury to or infection of the udder.
Non-commercial herds use mostly hand-milking, which requires few facilities and little equipment. There is no minimum number of goats required for machine milking, because the convenience and reduced discomfort to the person’s hands, wrists and arms may outweigh considerations of efficiency or economics. Portable single or double milking machines are easily assembled, washed, and maintained. Although machine milking is not covered in this paper, a brief description of hand milking follows for the goat herder who wants to produce a quality product.
In contrast to cows, the milking of goats is routinely done in different ways and schedules, depending on tradition, convenience, and budget. In most countries goats are milked twice a day, 12 hours apart. Routine, once-daily milking is not recommended. The doe’s udder produces milk throughout the day and night, but production is slowed as milk accumulates. During the height of lactation heavy producers can be milked three times a day at eight-hour intervals to relieve pressure in the udder. This procedure often yields more milk.
Milking equipment should include a strip cup, a seamless milking pail, and a milk strainer with a filter that is thrown away after each milking. Goats should be milked in an environment free of dust, odors, dogs, and disturbing noises.
To produce clean milk it is necessary to have clean equipment, a clean area for milking, healthy goats, clean clothes, and clean hands. The milker’s hands (short fingernails) should be washed with hot water and soap before starting, and before moving from one animal to another. Hands should be washed after cleaning feces from the udder. The udder can be washed with a clean cloth, but both the udder and hands should be dried before milking.
The first stream or two of milk should directed through a fine wire mesh, such as a tea strainer, into a separate strip cup so that the presence of flaky milk, which is often an indication of mastitis (discussed later) can be detected.
Dairy goats should be milked dry at each milking. When some experienced milkers think they have milked the goat thoroughly they will often push the udder gently a few times and run the index finger and thumb down each teat until they have “stripped” out the last drop of milk. The advantages of this procedure are not entirely clear.
As soon as the milk has been collected from the doe, it should be poured through a single-use filter. The milk should be cooled promptly and rapidly (to as near 0[degree]C as possible) to ensure good flavor and retard the growth of bacteria. Air cooling is not recommended; the closed container may be cooled by immersing it in ice water with frequent stirring. After cooling, the container of milk should be taken promptly to the consumer, stored in a refrigerator, or immersed in ice water. Unnecessary temperature changes can cause bad flavor.
All milking equipment should be rinsed in warm water immediately after use and then washed in hot water to which a mild chlorine solution and detergent are added. Finally the utensils should be rinsed in clean, preferably boiling, water and kept in a dust-free place to dry.