Milking procedure

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Please follow this procedure when milking goats. It is currently specific to certain equipment and animals, and improvisations and improvements are possible and welcome.

Contents

Principles

  1. Cleanliness is number one!
    • Be constantly aware of what has touched what.
    • Be aware of contamination issues. A few hairs in the milk bucket is okay, but a "goat berry" in there means the milk should be discarded.
    • Hot, soapy water is adequate for most purposes.
      Use disinfectants or germicides sparingly for gross contamination only, such as fresh manure smeared on a working surface.
    • Wash your hands whenever there is any doubt that they may have come in contact with something unclean, such as a goat!
      If you must touch the goat, the stand, the ground, etc. during milking, wash your hands before resuming milking.
    • Milk should be handled only in seamless stainless steel or glass, not plastic.
      Milk can be stored in plastic after processing, and especially if freezing it.
    • Do not allow remaining milk to sit in processing vessels or equipment.
  2. Chill and keep chilled
    • Milk into a double-wall container with an ice water bath.
    • Do not let milk sit any longer than necessary.
    • Refrigerate immediately after processing.
    • Freeze if it cannot be used within 5-7 days, or if building inventory for value-added products.
  3. Be consistent with the animals
    • Get them used to a routine.
    • Use their name, and "up?" with a rising tone, so they will all remain trained to the same vocabulary.
    • Use "no!" in a sharp, loud, low voice and lowering tone, possibly with a light swat to the side of the mouth, to stop undesirable behaviour.
      Their mouth is very sensitive. Light swats to the sides of the mouth are very effective, but should be used sparingly. Often, just the threat, by positioning your hand beside their mouth, will quell undesired behaviour. Swats elsewhere are unlikely to be effective, particularly on the forehead, which may be interpreted as an invitation to play.
    • Use "good girl!" with appropriate tone, and other praise in a similar tone, to reward desirable behaviour.
    • Use "down" with a lowering tone if you need them off the stand.
    • If uncooperative, dragging forward is not effective. Turn the goat sideways and push them sideways in the desired direction.
  4. Squeeze, don't pull
    • Pulling on teats can injure them.
    • "Stripping" the teats by running your hand down them may produce chapping or inflamation.

Materials

  • Seamless stainless steel milk bucket, 4-8 litres capacity.
  • Larger bucket that can hold the milk bucket and ice water.
  • Clean and dry straining cloth.
  • Strainer or other method of holding straining cloth.
  • Large-mouth glass or seamless stainless receptacle for receiving strained milk.
  • Larger glass or plastic vessel for refrigerated storage.
  • Wash water bucket and rag.
  • Drying towel.

General procedure

Preparation

  1. Clean and air-dry anything that will touch the milk well before milking time.
    Do not towel-dry milk processing vessels or equipment!
  2. Put the covered milk bucket inside the ice bucket, and put a tray of ice cubes and enough cold water to cover them, in the ice bucket. Use two trays of ice cubes in hot weather, or for large quantities of milk.
  3. Prepare a small bucket of hot, soapy water with a clean dish rag.
  4. Prepare a small bucket with 500 grams of organic goat feed per animal to be fed.
  5. Bring these materials to the milking area.
  6. Tie up or isolate animals not being milked so they won't distract or compete for the feed dish.
  7. Brush off the milking stand with a small broom. Allow any dust to settle.

Milking

  1. Put feed in the milking stand feed bowl.
  2. Call specific goat by name, with "up?" with a rising tone to get them onto the milking stand.
  3. Lock the stanchion when the goat's head is through.
  4. Tell the goat "wait..." and put grain in feed bowl, saying "okay!" when done. Some goats may require some assistance in waiting; put your arm between the feed bowl and their head, while repeating "wait..." in order to train them.
  5. Attach the hobble (as needed).
  6. Wash the teats and udder with the hot soapy water.
  7. Wash your hands.
  8. Dry teats and hands.
  9. Grasp the teat near the top firmly, with thumb and forefinger, use the other fingers to squeeze the teat to express a small amount of milk into your other hand or a small receptacle.
  10. Examine the "strip" of milk for blood, discolouration, clots, lumps, anything unusual.
    If the initial strip is of questionable quality, the goat still needs to be milked, but the milk should be composted or discarded.
  11. Place the covered milk bucket under the udder.
  12. Uncover the bucket and proceed to milk until flow stops.
  13. If milking is interrupted for any reason, quickly cover the milk bucket.
  14. Cover the bucket quickly to avoid any contamination.
  15. Weigh the milk bucket after milking each goat, and record the weight on the log sheet.

Processing

  1. Be sure milk is adequately cooled.
    • It should have no foam on the surface.
    • Allow the milk bucket to stay in the ice bath for a few minutes if there is any doubt it is not cooled.
    • Do not allow it to stay in the ice bath after the ice cubes have fully melted.
  2. After the milk is cooled, strain milk into clean receptacle.
  3. Transfer milk from the filter receptacle to the refrigerated container.
  4. Label new jars with date before adding milk.
  5. Move full bottles to downstairs refrigerator.
  6. Ensure that the oldest milk is to the left and in front.

Clean up

  1. Prior to processing, use left-over wash water to clean the milking stand.
  2. Rinse all milk vessels and equipment in cold water.
  3. Wash with hot, soapy water. Rinse twice with the hottest water.
  4. Place clean items upside-down in white drying rack.
    If you cannot wash immediately, be sure all remaining milk is rinsed out with cold water — do not leave drops of milk anywhere on vessels or equipment.
  5. Air dry.

Specific issues

  • Tuccha often kicks, and may need the hobble.
  • Shakti has small fistulae on both teats, and may leak from them while milking. If you notice leakage, cover them with a finger while milking.

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