How to Take Care of a Milk Goat
By Otter, age 9
I have been at a goat farm for two weeks. While here I learned how to take care of goats. My favorite chore is milking. This is how to do it:
- Get a dairy goat and put her on a milking stand and lock her in so she will not walk away while you are milking.
- Brush her so no junk falls in the milk and to see if she has any ticks.
- Give the mother goat grain to calmly occupy her. The grain enriches her milk.
- Place the milk pail under the udder.
- Dip her teats in cleaning solution to keep the milk clean and wipe them off. Check for any blood or clots because that indicates infection.
- Grab the top of a teat with your thumb and forefinger and squeeze with your other three fingers so the milk zings into the pail.
- Speak kindly to her and rub gently so she will let down more milk.
- Keep on milking until she lets down no more milk, because that means she has no more milk. (fun fact: baby goats headbutt their mother so she lets down more milk.)
- Move the pail so when she jumps off the stand she will not knock off the pail.
- Dip her teats in cleaning solution again to prevent infection.
- Release her to the herd after you are done milking so she can be with her friends.
- In the evening give the mother goat another serving of grain because it helps enrich her milk.
Milking a goat is the most complicated goat chore I know. If you end up with a milk goat follow my procedure and you will be successful.
The Care and Feeding of Goats
By Sissy, age 11
I have been working on a goat farm in Montana for a fortnight. I have learned a lot about goats and the care that they need. It may seem overwhelming at first, but once you get a rhythm for it, you will find it quite easy.
The majority of goat work is done in the morning. Before you do anything else with the goats you need to start a fire in the room you will milk your mother goats. This is necessary to keep you and the goat you are going to milk warm.
Before you milk, feed leaves to all the goats (including separated adult males if you have any). Then you bring your mother goat into the milking room and lock her into a milking stand to prevent her from walking away. Prior to milking, give her grain to occupy her while you are working with her. (The grain also helps enrich her milk.) Brush the grass, leaves, etc. off her to prevent it from getting into the milk and check her for ticks or injuries. Then dip her teats in disinfectant and scrub the udder with it to prevent yucky things (such as poop or food scraps) from getting into the milk. Test her milk for signs of infections, such as milk clumps or blood, by squirting her milk onto a paper towel, wet wipe, etc. Then you are ready to milk. Place your pail with an ice pack in it directly under the udder. Wrap your thumb and pointer finger around the top of the teat. Then bring remaining fingers down and squeeze. Continue doing this until the milk flow slows down. Tip: Goats like compliments. A female often gives more milk when told she is pretty, etc. Once you are done, remove the pail and dip her teats again with disinfectant to prevent infection. Then release her back to the herd.
After you have released your goat back to the herd, give the entire herd (to include the separated adult males) hay. While they are eating, open the barn door to the outside pasture and leave them to eat at their leisure.
There are fewer mid-day chores and they are all pretty easy. At some point in the day, you should hang out with your goats. Kids need to be petted and handled so they will better cooperate with people when they are older. Young doelings need it most of all if they are to become good milk goats. Picking up, cuddling, petting, and talking quietly to your little doelings is a sure way to help them become good milkers. In addition to loving on your goats, check their water and refill when necessary while you are in the barn.
There are evening chores too. Separate the milk goats from the rest of the herd and take them one at a time into the milking room. Give them grain and check for injuries and ticks. Then put them in a separate space from the rest of the herd to sleep. This makes it easier to get them into the milking room in the morning. It also helps them build up their milk supply for us to milk in the morning. Give the entire herd hay, to include the milk goats and separated adult males. While they are eating, shut the barn door to protect them from overnight predators, then leave them to bed down for the night.
Being on a goat farm for two weeks has helped me understand goats and their care much more than I ever have. All the chores they require are very easy to do. The key is to remember to do them all.