For the last couple of years, I have hand milked our goats. A machine seemed frivolous when our girls only give us about half gallon of milk at a time. It was about $175 that I felt wasn’t necessary to spend right then. But we have issues with consistency on our farm, which I will explain further down. This leads to goats not being milked out effectively or routinely. So I bought a goat milking system and here’s what I think so far.
Before we get too far into this, I have a great course on the basics of goat care. I call it Goat Crash Course: Goat 101. In this course, I explain things like types of shelter, types of feeds and hays, basic assessments and so much more! Check it out!
Our Homestead Milkers
As of this writing, I have three girls in milk and by the end of the day I have about half to three quarters of a gallon of milk. Jade and Bailey are the stars this go around, while Bella is struggling to give me even a half cup. While that’s not a lot of milk, it is plenty for fresh drinking and bottling the twins below.
There are a lot of reasons that we decided to go ahead and buy a machine. By the end of the milking, my hands are shot. I’ve got psoriatic arthritis in my right hand, specifically my ring and pinky fingers. While it doesn’t usually stop me from milking, it does hurt.
Jared and I work 24 hour shifts. I milk the morning of work and then Jared milks the evening and morning before he goes to work. Then I milk the evening I get home, the next morning and evening, then the next morning again. When I milk, I can usually pull about a quart each of both Bailey and Jade. Jared is lucky to get a pint combined.
The boys needing to milk. Sometimes we need the boys to milk. While this doesn’t happen a lot, it does happen. Since they don’t do it that often, the girls don’t like to sit for them. This creates a lot of stress for them because usually I have to go down there anyways and milk them to give them some relief.
Stress On The Girls
One of the biggest issues with the human error above, is that there is very little consistency. Well, there’s actually a lot of consistency, but it’s a long game. There is no daily consistency. Because of this, the girls just don’t let their milk down for Jared or the boys.
Here in just a few weeks, we are going to have another girl in the rotation for milking. This is going to add another round of milking that my hands may not tolerate or that Jared will have to try and milk.
We are looking to streamline the process in hopes that we are consistently getting a half gallon a day out of all the girls, regardless of who milks them.
The Goat Milking System Review
Now to the meat and potatoes. This is going to be an ongoing review because we are still very new to this machine and so are the girls.
Jade kicked once and Bailey didn’t care at all. The suction was a little difficult to get dialed in but did work pretty well. Both girls milked almost completely out within about 2 minutes. We did have to finish them off by hand, but there was maybe a quarter cup for each girl left in the teats.
Cleaning is a little bit of a hassle but not terrible. After talking to several goat owners, they suggested this method. Fill a bucket with warm, soapy water and used the machine to suck everything through. Then rinse the bucket, hoses and teat cups, and run warm water through everything. This worked pretty well and I would imagine that there is a need to pull everything apart once a week or milking, and do a thorough scrubbing. But we’ll see.
The milk was easy to get out and everything is clean now. For goats giving small amounts of milk, I don’t know that a goat milking system would be worth it. If your hands aren’t arthritic, you only have one goat, they aren’t producing gallons a day, etc. Then hand milking may be a better option. But when you’ve got several girls to get through, or they produce a lot of milk? I think the machine is definitely a good investment. Especially with a smaller price tag like $175 ish dollars.
There is a learning curve to this machine and the little stickers on the hoses will come off, but if you can work around those things? I think it’s worth it.
Updating This Post
I will come back in a week, month, year, etc and keep doing updates because while reviews are awesome, I want to know about the longevity of something. So keep checking back!
Goat Milk System: 3 Month Update
Jared doesn’t like the milk machine. He says it takes too much time to get it put together, on the goat, and then strained and cleaned. I don’t disagree. The most time consuming process is the cleaning of the machine. It’s a little more worth the effort in the actual milking process because the milk machine will empty a goat about 95% of the way in about 2 minutes. But the amount of clean up work at the end? It’s not really a time saver.
Another problem that we have run into is the cleaning of the machine. No matter how often I scrub it, hang it to dry or even let it suck out most of the water, moisture still remains in the lines. This leads to mildew or mold in the lines. Despite ALL efforts to eliminate it, it’s still a problem. I have found it to be easier to rinse it well after use and then clean it before using it again. This means that it’s getting cleaned out about 4x a day. That’s a lot of effort for a couple of minutes of saved time on the stand.
6 Month Update
Well, the machine is collecting dust in the basement. The only thing used from that machine is the bucket. I’m glad that we bought the machine because now there is no doubt in my mind that it is a waste of time an money FOR US.
Time saving: there is literally not one second of time saved. In fact, it takes more time, energy, and effort to use the milking machine than just going out there and hand milking. Sure, it can milk out a goat in about 2 minutes. But the amount of time it takes us to get it cleaned is absolutely ridiculous.
Arthritis pain: The pain has shifted. Instead of pain while milking, the pain comes because I have to spend 20+ minutes cleaning the machine.
Clean Milk: This one I have to give to the machine. We do not pasteurize our milk, we filter it through a strainer and coffee filter to get the nasties out. But I noticed that when we used the machine, there was no hair, debris, etc in the milk. There was also the added bonus of when the girls kicked, they don’t shove their hoof in the milk. So that’s one point in the machines favor.
I won’t be doing any more updates to this post simply because we don’t use the machine anymore. I may end up trying a different machine but as it sits now, it’s easier for us to hand milk.
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