Here’s How to Milk a Goat by Hand

Lots of people steer clear from raising dairy goats not because they are concerned that they won’t like the milk, but because they don’t know how to milk a goat.

Luckily, it’s pretty simple, and if you’ve ever milked a cow or another animal you have an automatic advantage already!

man milking an alpine goat by hand

Cow milk may taste a bit different than goat’s milk, but the milking process is more or less the same between the two. All you need is a bucket, some cleaning and sanitizing supplies, a bit of time, and of course, some know-how.

While the process may seem intimidating at first, it is actually quite simple once you know how.

In this blog post, we will walk you through the basics of milking a dairy goat and explain why it is so important. Keep reading to learn more!

What to Do Before Milking to Ensure High Quality Milk

There are a few key things to keep in mind if you want to get the best quality milk out of your goats.

First, it’s important to make sure that they have access to plenty of fresh, clean water. Goats need to drink about 2-3 gallons of water per day, and if they don’t have enough water, it will affect the quality of their milk.

Second, goats should be fed a balanced diet that includes plenty of hay, fresh vegetables, and a small amount of grain. A healthy diet will result in healthier milk.

Finally, it’s important to keep your goats well-groomed and clean. Regular brushing will help to remove any dirt or debris from their coats, and milking them in a clean environment will help to keep the milk clean.

By following these tips, you can help ensure that you get the best quality milk possible from your goats.

How to Milk a Dairy Goat: Expert Tips

If you’re new to dairy goats, the process of milking can seem daunting. However, with a little practice, you’ll be able to milk your goats quickly and efficiently. Here are some expert tips to help you get started.

Don’t want to read through the steps? That’s ok! Just check out this video for an idea of how to milk a dairy goat:

What Supplies Do You Need to Milk a Goat?

If you’re interested in milking goats, there are a few supplies you’ll need to get started. First, you’ll need a milk stand. This is a small platform that the goat can be tethered to during milking (more on this below).

Next, you’ll need a stainless steel bucket to collect the milk. You’ll also need a set of udder washing supplies and teat sanitizing supplies. These can be purchased from a farm supply store or online.

Finally, you’ll need a stainless steel strainer and milk filters to strain the milk and remove any impurities. Jars for milk storage can be purchased at any kitchen supply store.

Get Some Treats Ready

Put together a bag of treats for your goa, like alfalfa pellets or some grain. This will make your goat a bit easier to work with. If you’re able to keep your goat’s udders shaved at all times, this will make it easier to milk, too (and also cleaner).

Shave the Udders

Before you milk your goats, it is important to shave their udders. This will help to remove any dirt, debris, or bacteria that may be present on the skin. In addition, shaving the udders will make it easier to see any cracks or lesions that could potentially harbor bacteria.

By taking these precautions, you can help to ensure that the milk you produce is safe and clean.

Maintain Good Hygiene

When milking a dairy goat, it is important to maintain good hygiene in order to prevent the milk from becoming contaminated.

Make sure that your hands are clean before milking the goat. You may wish to use gloves or sanitize your hands with an antiseptic solution. Be sure to clean the udder of the goat before milking. This can be done with a clean cloth or by spraying the udder with a sanitizing solution.

After milking the goat, be sure to clean all of the milking equipment thoroughly. This includes the milk pail, the milk filter, and the pump, if you used a machine. By following these simple steps, you can help to ensure that the milk is safe for consumption.

Consider Using a Milking Stand and/or a Milking Machine

If you have multiple goats or if your goats are particularly large, you may want to consider using a milking stand.

A milking stand is a raised platform with a built-in stanchion that allows you to easily position your goat for milking.

goat on milking stand
goat on milking stand

You can also use a milking machine, which will do the majority of the work for you. Simply attach the machine to the goat’s udder and let it do its job.

While milking machines can be pricey, they can save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.

How to Make Your Goats More Amenable to Milking

If you want to get the most milk from your goats, it’s important to make sure that they’re comfortable with the milking process. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Get in a Routine

First, it’s important to get them used to being handled. Spend some time each day petting them and brushing them, so they get used to being touched all over.

It’s also important to get them used to having their udders handled; this can be done by gently massaging the udders each day. A massage is not only a good way to get your sheep used to being handled, but it’s also a good way to stimulate milk production.

Once they’re comfortable with being handled, you can start the milking process. It’s important to do this in a calm and quiet environment, so they don’t get scared.

Make sure to wash their udders with warm water before milking, and start with just a little milk so they don’t get overwhelmed. If they start to get agitated, take a break and try again later.

Getting your goats into a routine will make the milking process much easier for both you and them. Try to milk at the same time each day, and in the same place if possible. If your goats are comfortable and relaxed, they will be less likely to fight or resist during milking.

Goats are also creatures of habit, so a regular routine will help to keep them calm and docile. In addition, be sure to handle your goats gently and with respect. They will pick up on your mood, so it is important to remain calm and patient.

With a little effort, you can create a milking routine that is peaceful and efficient for both you and your goats.

Put Your Kids on the Milking Stand Early

Dairy goats are a popular choice for small-scale farms and homesteads.

They are relatively easy to care for and can provide an excellent source of milk and cheese. For those interested in milking their own goats, it is important to put the kids on the milking stand early.

Kids should be exposed to the stand and the milking process from a young age, so that they become accustomed to it and are less likely to fight or struggle when it comes time to milk them. This will make the experience more enjoyable for both you and your goats.

Be Patient

If you’re new to goat ownership, you might be wondering how to go about milking your goats. The good news is that, with a little patience, most goats will learn to cooperate with the milking process.

However, there are a few things you can do to make the transition easier for both you and your goats. First of all, take some time to let them get used to your presence.

Goats are social creatures, and they’ll need to get used to being around you before they’ll be comfortable with being milked. Once you’ve established a rapport, it’s time to start the milking process. Let them watch you milk another goat, if possible, so that they can see what’s involved.

Then, when you’re ready to milk them, let them sniff and explore the milking bucket and equipment.

When they seem comfortable, proceed with the milking process. Remember to go slowly at first; if they start to feel uncomfortable, they might kick the bucket over or try to run away. With patience and gentleness, though, most goats will soon learn to enjoy the milking process.

Recognize Individuality in Your Goats

Just like any other animal, each goat is an individual with its own personality. Some goats are friendly and easy to handle, while others can be more resistant. As you get to know your goats better, you’ll start to learn their individual quirks and preferences.

For example, some goats may prefer to be milked standing up while others may prefer to be milked while lying down. Once you know what works best for each goat, the milking process will be much smoother.

In addition to recognizing each goat’s personality, it’s also important to be aware of their body language. If a goat starts to get agitated or seems uncomfortable, it’s best to stop milking and try again another time.

Goats that are stressed are more likely to kick or bite, which can not only injure you but also make the goats less likely to cooperate in the future.

By taking the time to learn about your goats’ individual needs, you can create a milking routine that is safe and stress-free for both you and the goats.

Clean the Udders and Teats

Now you need to clean the teats and udders. You can use udder wipes or any other cleaner that you see fit. Just make sure it’s approved for use on dairy goats so you don’t cause any reaction or rashes. When you clean, make sure you squeeze the teat and wipe its opening down well.

You may also want to use a predip, also known as teat dips.

A teat dip is a solution that is applied to the teats of animals before milking. Predips can help to reduce the risk of infection by killing bacteria and removing debris.

They can also help to improve milk quality by reducing the number of somatic cells present in the milk. When used properly, predips can be an effective tool for improving herd health.

There are a variety of different predips available on the market, so it is important to choose one that is specifically designed for goats. Goat-specific predips typically contain ingredients that are effective against common goat pathogens, such as staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Many goat-specific predips also contain emollients to help keep the skin around the teats soft and healthy. When selecting a predip, it is important to choose one that is compatible with your milking system.

Some predips may require special equipment for proper application, so be sure to consult your milking system manufacturer for recommendations. Predips can be an effective tool for reducing the spread of infection and protecting milk quality.

However, it is important to select a goat-specific product and use it according to the manufacturer’s instructions in order to achieve

Do a Test Squirt

Now, do a “test” squirt for each teat. This will flesh out blockages and bacteria. Don’t shoot this milk into your collection pail but instead squirt it into a separate pail so you can check it for blood or clumps of milk (this can be a sign of mastitis or another infection).

Grasp High on the Udder

To milk your goat, grasp her teat as high on the udder as you can – usually, a couple of inches high into the udder. Using your first finger and thumb, squeeze it hard so you can trap the milk.

Keep your fingers pressed tightly together before bringing your other fingers and palm together. This will squirt milk out. If you only get a light stream, you aren’t pinching your thumb and fingers hard enough.

A common mistake that people make when milking their goats is that they tug instead of squeeze and pinch the teats.

Keep on with this motion until you think you’ve drained that side of milk. You can then wait for a few seconds, then lightly punch into the udder to release another let down.

This works because this is what kids do to stimulate a let down. Milk out as much as you can this second time. When you’re done milking, you’ll know you’ve fully drained the udder because it will look somewhat wrinkled.

Apply an Udder Balm

Once you’re done, you can apply an udder balm to the udder and teats. This will prevent any irritation or chafing for your doe.

When milking a goat you do not pull or yank on the teat. It’s a little difficult to explain without being able to show you the process, but once you’ve closed off the top of the teat using your index finger and thumb curled around the teat, you close the rest of your fingers, one at a time, working the milk down and out.

Handle the Milk Properly Afterward

After milking your dairy goat, it is important to handle the milk properly in order to ensure that it is safe to consume.

The first step is to cool the milk as quickly as possible. This can be done by placing the milk in a bowl or container of cold water.

Once the milk has cooled, it should be refrigerated immediately. It is also important to clean all milking equipment thoroughly after each use. This includes washing the goat’s udder, buckets, and teats with soap and hot water.

All milk containers should also be sterilized before each use.

Many dairy goat farmers also choose to pasteurize their milk. Raw milk can contain harmful bacteria, so it must be heated to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit in order to kill any potentially dangerous pathogens.

However, heating the milk too quickly can cause it to scorch, so it is important to heat it slowly and evenly.

Once the milk has been heated, it should be cooled promptly and stored in a clean, airtight container. If these steps are followed, the milk will be safe to drink and will taste its best.

How to Avoid Poor Milk Flavor

There are several factors that can contribute to poor milk flavor in goats milk. One of the most common is the type of feed that the goats are eating. If the goats are eating a lot of grass or other green plants, their milk will likely have a strong, grassy flavor.

Another factor that can affect milk flavor is the health of the goats. If the goats are sick or have just given birth, their milk may have a bitter or soapy flavor. Finally, if the goats are stressed, their milk may have an unpleasant, sour taste.

There are a few things that can be done to avoid poor milk flavor in goats milk. First, it is important to feed the goats a balanced diet that includes hay, grain, and other dry foods. This will help to prevent grassy-tasting milk.

The goats should be kept healthy and free from stress. If possible, they should be milked in a calm and relaxed environment.

Finally, it is important to immediately refrigerate fresh milk to prevent spoilage and help preserve its flavor. By following these simple tips, you can produce high-quality goat’s milk that has a pleasant taste.

What Are Some Common Problems When Milking Goats?

One of the most common problems when milking goats is mastitis. This is an infection of the udder that can cause the milk to spoil. It can also be painful for the goat and may require antibiotics to clear up.

Another common problem is leftover milk in the udder. If this happens, it can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria which can then spoil the milk.

One problem is that the goat may kick during milking. To solve this problem, you can tie the goat’s back leg to a post with a rope. Again, acclimating the goat to milking early on, when it is still a kid, is a good way to make sure it doesn’t mind the milking experience.

Finally, it’s important to make sure that the teats are clean before milking. If they’re not, then bacteria can contaminate the milk and make the goat sick.

Be Patient With Yourself!

Some things you just can’t plan for. You learn as you go. But if you’ve been following us for a while you know that’s how we do it: trial and error.

Thankfully my children quickly took to the goat’s milk, and love it. Now, if I can only get enough to last us a day at a time!! But at least we’re getting something. We’re learning, and hopefully it’ll get better and better as we go.

It’s so fun coming in with fresh milk of our own! I’m still getting used to hearing myself tell the kids, “I gotta go milk the goat now.” It really is a great feeling!

updated 07/15/2022 by Rebekah Pierce

30 thoughts on “Here’s How to Milk a Goat by Hand”

  1. Hi Kendra,

    Just a tip on milking – it sounds like you are doing all the right things. However, NEVER skip a milking, or her milk production will go down, sometimes significantly. Also, if you let her eat as much hay as she wants, her milk production should sky rocket!

    Just some tips! I have several dairy goats of my own and actually had one have her babies today! I know it’s kind of hard to figure stuff out at first, but I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it.

    Reply
  2. So, how does goat’s milk compare to cows milk in flavor? Are planning on making your own cheeses with it, and can you make butter with it? Just curious. I have pondered a cow, but goats are much smaller! 🙂

    Reply
    • Ashlee, in all honesty, if you were to come over and taste my fresh goat’s milk, I doubt you’d be able to tell the difference from cow’s milk. Maybe if you have really particular taste buds, but so far everyone who has tasted this milk has made the comment that it tastes just like regular cow’s milk 🙂 I’d definitely recommend a goat over a cow. Not only are they easier to handle, but they take up less room and cost less to feed and maintain. Yes, I plan on making cheese, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, soap, and anything else possible!! You can make butter, but you have to get a cream separator, as the milk is naturally homogenized. Something I’ll be saving for though in the future!

      Reply
  3. With cows they tend to get sore if you change how you milk them. Anyone who has begun to use a breat pump can sympathize with this. Often if a new person milks one of our cows she tends to jump and kick for a few days. Animals like routines. She will be easier once she can predict what you will do. You can tie a cows legs down I wonder if you can do the same for a goat. We had a cow we had to do this with for a few weeks and then she stopped kicking.

    Reply
  4. Hi Kendra –
    Hope things keep getting better. One thought on keeping the flies out of the milk is to filter as you milk. For the cows, we just milk into an open pot, but for the goats, we milk into quart or half gallon jars with a sterilized men’s handkerchief held on with a rubber band. Someone told us that even a goat hair sitting in the milk until you strain it in the house can give it an off flavor. So it seems to work to filter as we milk. With this size container though, we hold the jar with one hand and milk with the other. This may slow things up but for us the goats are so unpredictable, it’s a safety precaution. At least I don’t lose my milk if the goat moves.

    Reply
  5. Hi,

    We have Jersey milk cows, but a friend of ours who raises and milks goats told us to put the milk in the freezer for about thirty minutes as quickly as possible after milking. I think it’s suppose to help the flavor because it cools it down very quickly thereby stopping the bacteria growth more quickly?? We’ve also been told that having a seamless milk pail is important because bacteria can get trapped in the seams and affect the flavor. Thought that might help those who previously tried the milk and didn’t like the flavor.

    Thanks, Kendra. So happy for you:)

    Reply
  6. We just got goats a few weeks back as well. They aren’t in milk yet, but one is due to have her baby(s) in a few months. We are reading everything we can find, and my husband just bought “The complete idiots guide to Raising Goats”. lol

    Reply
  7. Kendra,

    How brave you are! I’m interested in getting dairy goats and look forward to hearing more about your experience.

    How much milk can one expect to get from each goat?

    Blessings,

    Julie

    Reply
    • Julie,

      The amount you get depends on several things, including which breed you get and the individual goat. It’s kinda like breastfeeding women, you can’t expect them all to be the same, but you can get a general idea. Like I said, the owners of these goats claimed to be getting 3/4 of a gallon per day. I’m hoping I see something like that soon!

      Reply
  8. Oh this is so cute. I’m happy for you that you have goats. We got a nice little suburban house but I can only garden – no livestock. One day I hope – we’ll move to a cute 5-acre place somewhere, can have a few chickens, a milk cow …

    I’m not fond of goat’s milk. I’m interested in seeing what you do with it (just drinking it? making cheese?) Maybe it’s an aquired taste. Have you always liked goat’s milk? How about the kids? Anyway maybe one day I’ll have some and I can learn a bit from your blog ahead of time!

    I want chickens. 😀

    Reply
    • Lisa,

      Have you ever had FRESH goat’s milk? Or just store bought? After about two days the milk begins to take on a “goaty” flavor. This is only the second time in my life that I’ve ever tried goat’s milk. A first for my kids! I even got my dad to try it for the very first time the other day. And we all agree- it’s good! Very, very much like whole store-bought cow’s milk. Nothing to have to get used to. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Congrats on your new goats Kendra! You will get the hang of it very quickly. One of the things I learned from a seasoned milking friend of mine was to put your “shoulder in them”. Goats respond to body contact. Not necessarily push or pulling with your hands but with your body. I didn’t understand that until I saw my friend milk a goat I was having trouble with because at the time I was a newbie. She was very kind to the animal but the thing I noticed is that she just put her shoulder into her goat’s hip and the goat responded really well. I have do this now if a goat gives me trouble and they usually respond really well.
    Also, not sure how you are washing the teats but try using warm water on a wash cloth to stimulate let milk flow.

    Reply
    • Thanks Mona!! I’ll try the shoulder contact thing if she’s dancing around again this morning. I’ve also been using cool water when washing. I wondered if it should possibly be warm, I can see how that would feel more relaxing to her. Another good tip. Thank you!!

      You guys are awesome for all of the great advice!

      Reply
  10. Kendra,

    You are one of the bravest, strongest women I have ever had the privilege of “knowing”! You are never afraid to try anything… even when you are (if I remember correctly) in your third trimester. You keep me inspired!!!

    Reply
  11. Hey Kendra,
    I was very young when we had a nanny to milk but I did it often and later I worked in a dairy (cattle) for many years – I think it is much the same. You might have noticed that the goat kids (or calves) will “bump up” on the udder with their noses while they are drinking. This motion encourages the moms to drop their milk and the lack of it, along with the stress of the move, might be contributing to the lesser amount as well. When I washed the teats and did my test squirts on the cows, I would simulate this motion to encourage the milk to drop. You can also do this with the top of your hand (fist) every so often while you are milking. Best way to encourage your lady would be to observe the kids and try to simulate their bumps to her udder. Also, if you are wearing rings, you might have to remove them so they won’t pinch or create a pressure point.

    Reply
  12. Hi Kendra, Your doing great, I noticed that you said she was calm the first few times you milked her which makes me think that you may be pinching too hard where her teat meets the udder causing her to not want to be milked….just relax, don’t worry about “correct Procedure”…if she is cringing about the experience she won’t let down all that milk. Try not to hold the teat so high, do the pinching lower on the teat, not near the udder….feed some grain as you milk, and if she still ancy, tie her back legs to the stand so she cant lift them. You two will figure it out, my ten and twelve year olds milk ten a day and if they can do it, so can you. 🙂

    Reply
    • Jana,

      Thank you so much for the advice. You are probably right on what my problem is. Tomorrow, I’ll try pinching lower, I was definitely pinching as high up and close to her udder as possible. I’ve been wondering if she doesn’t like the way I do it. I appreciate your words of encouragement!!!!

      Reply
  13. This is so inspiring! I want to do so many things, like getting chickens and goats, and I am too scared. I feel like I want to know more and be prepared, but honestly, there are ALWAYS more things to know and I need to embrace that. It’s nice to see you learning as you go. It makes me feel better to read it!

    Reply
    • Jackie,

      It’s good to read and know a little about the animals before you get them. But like you said, you’ll never know everything! Some things they just don’t tell you in the books. You’ll make mistakes, but you’ll learn from them and become more experienced and knowledgeable with time. Chickens are the easiest thing in the world to start with. Get some!! 🙂 If you wait till you think you’re completely ready, you’ll wait forever.

      Reply
  14. Congrats Kendra, I am so excited for you. I wish I were there to talk to you and to help you. I have only been at it for a short time myself, but you will learn so quickly. One thing you might tyr is to feed the goats only when they are being milked and not too much free range or they will never be hungry enought to voluntarley get on the milking stand. I made the same Mistake with mine in the first few days. She would not get up on the milking stand and she is too big to make her. My husband said I fed her to much the night before so I cut her down of feed and hay during the day and sure enough at evening milking she went right up and started eating and stands very still for milking. Marth is smart, she will kick her leg when her food bowl runs dry during milking, I thought maybe I squeezed too hard or too high up, but I noticed she was only tryig to get my attention. They say they are way smarter than dogs!! Who knew? Best of luck to you and have fun learning to make all the good dairy products with your own little dairy. How cool is that?

    Reply
    • Thanks, Chanda! Yeah, I’ve just been feeding her grain at milking time. There is a little forage in her pen, but I don’t think enough to be filling her. I dunno. But yea, by this evening she was HUNGRY and eager to get that grain. I was thankful for that! She’s over 100 lbs, and entirely too big for me to try to force to do anything. I wondered if she might be out of food when she started dancing around, but she wasn’t. I wondered if I was pinching her or something. It seemed like she was only bothered when I went to milk the udder farthest from me. Thank you for your encouragement! Hopefully tomorrow will be even better 🙂

      Reply
  15. Our Nubian is due to kid in the next week or so. We are totally new to all of this, too! Funny thing is I am expecting so the slightest off smell makes me nauseous. I’m supposed to be the goat’s “midwife” and milker. LOL! We’ll see how all of that goes.

    Question for everyone…how do we go about letting the babies get their nourishment from mama and also be able to milk for us, too? I’ve read all sorts of things but I would like to hear from you gals. Any suggestions?

    Thanks a bunch!

    Reply
    • Carmen,

      The babies should get the colostrum the first week or so, and then you can milk them for yourself. What I plan on doing is separating the kids from the doe either at night, or during the day, and milking her once myself, then allowing them to nurse afterward. Then I’ll wean them completely. They are old enough.

      Reply
  16. We should so hang out! We jumped right in a week and a half ago and got two Nubians, one in milk. So now I’m milking 2x a day along side you. 🙂 I’ve never gotten as much milk as the sellers said either. 🙂 My girl is triple-teeted so that makes it fun. I’ve NEVER done anything like this in my life. Chickens arrive tomorrow. Glad they don’t need to be milked. Learning as we go works. If we’d waited until everything was good, it’d be years til we got them. Now, we’re just doing it.

    Reply
    • Yay, Kimberly!! That’s GREAT!! Triple-teated huh? Funny! Makes me feel better to hear you say you haven’t gotten as much milk as you were told yet either. Maybe we’ll both get there soon! I’m so proud of you for getting out of your comfort zone and just doing it! Good luck with the chickens too! I think you’ll love having them.

      Reply

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