I have been milking Audrey loyally everyday, three times a day now for about a month. We have developed a nice little routine that I truly enjoy and look forward to. I bounce out of bed first thing anxious to get down to the barn, and am chomping at the bit to get started in the evening. It may lose that new feeling after a while, but that whole fresh milk everyday part will never get old.
When you first start milking a new dairy goat or cow, it can be stressful. You may have issues with them being uncooperative, or you fear did I milk them enough? Am I taking the proper precautions? You don't want to inadvertently cause production to drop by not emptying their udder, and of course mastitis is always a concern. Because we drink our milk raw, sanitation in the process is of the upmost importance because I don't have pasteurization as a safeguard. I have to prevent it from getting into the process in the first place, and this is where a routine comes in very handy. If you take the necessary steps and precautions everyday, two or three times a day, it becomes muscle memory and eventually you don't even have to think about what you're doing. The routine becomes second nature, and I take comfort knowing I can safely drink my raw milk, while doing everything possible to keep up maximum production and Audrey healthy.
What's in My Basket?
First Things First...
Cleanliness. Now it's no secret to anyone that knows me personally that I am a bit of a neat freak. Well, let's just say it doesn't stop at the house. My barn is always swept and tidied up before I head out after I'm doing doing whatever it is i'm doing in there. I always sweep after I milk, never before. Why? Because sweeping up dirt that's tracked in, hay, and general dust kicks it up into the air and I don't want that actively floating around while I'm getting my milk on and having it settle in my fresh supply. This may seem a little nuts to some, but here's a tip....I am nuts! I also always wipe down my milk stand after I milk because well, that just makes sense.
Now, some people say you have to use a "strip cup" specifically for this, or they use a paper towel. But, my stand is built out of wood, so I can see the milk clear as day on my solid base. The purpose of this is to clear out the teats of any clogs or debris that could have made its way up there, surface bacteria, and identify any blood or issues with the milk itself.
Once she has had a few good cleansing squirts, the milking game begins. Because she has such a tight udder and small teats, I start her off with the hand milker. In addition to getting a lot of milk out quickly, it helps loosen everything up and allows me to easily finish her off with hand milking. This makes for a better experience for her as well as speeding up the process. I frequently dump the milk from my measuring cup into the mason jar secured with a lid. Even the best behaved goats on the stand will let out an unexpected kick and it is a tragedy when the milk falls victim. Whoever said there's no sense in crying over spilled milk clearly never milked an animal in their life. If she does manage to kick it over or get a foot in it, because I frequently dump, I'm only losing a little as opposed to half a day's supply.
After she has been milked out, I give her a few good bumps of the udder to let down any milk she's holding back from me. Emptying her udder fully at each milking will stimulate more production, while also keeping mastitis at bay. After finishing, I wipe her udder and teats down again with baby wipes, then give her a good spray with Fight Bac on each teat for extra insurance against mastitis. If she is still interested in eating, I let her hang out and nibble on grain until she loses interest and gets antsy and let her back in with her friends. I then let the cleanup crew in (read Annie) to clean up any of the overshot milk before I spray and wipe it down with my essential oil and ACV cleaner. After its been given a thorough cleaning, I collect my supplies and sweep up so everything is clean and ready for the next milking.
I hustle back to the house as quickly as possible to get the milk filtered through a mesh coffee filter into a jar. This catches any hair (it's unavoidable) as well as anything else that has fallen into the milk and strains it out. It gets tucked in the fridge towards the back. Not only is fresh milk best serviced iced cold because it's delicious, but it is also ideal conditions to keep bacteria levels from getting out of control. Again, the milk is raw, so all bacteria is left in tact!
I was taught how to milk by my friend Angela, whom I also got Ruby, Audrey, and Allison from. This routine has proven to work well for her over the years, and so far it has for me as well. Audrey has given me delicious raw milk that I have had no hesitation in drinking because I know it has been milked in clean conditions, and produced by a healthy goat given the utmost care and highest quality non-gmo/soy free/organic feed. Routine is good. Not only for me, where by through repetition the process is improved and becomes second nature, but for her as well. She knows what to expect, what's coming next, and is learning to go with the flow and be more at ease. Do you have a milking routine? What works well for you?
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