Milking the Goats: A Photo Essay On Dairy Goat Care at Milking Time

Hungry?

This old girl was quietly munching her grain when I surprised her with the cameera flash.
This old girl was quietly munching her grain when I surprised her with the cameera flash.

I've shown you how to make some cheeses (and intend to show you more eventually).

I've also shared with you my matriarch goat Morgana's story.

It's time to show you a bit more of the goat world, and bring you into the milk room. This is a photo essay showing how my dad, "Mr. James", goes about his twice-daily milkings.

Each of his goats, whether nice or naughty, sweet or sour, is like a pet to him, and many of them respond in kind. It is difficult for him to get away for any kind of vacation, as his goats prefer his company over anyone else's, and go on strike, even refusing to come in the milk room, if anyone else tries to take care of them.

With that in mind, here's the tour.

The Waiting Room

The crowd mills about in the aisle, waiting for Mr. James to crack open the door.
The crowd mills about in the aisle, waiting for Mr. James to crack open the door.
"Friend" jumps up against the door to take a peek at the pre-milking activity.
"Friend" jumps up against the door to take a peek at the pre-milking activity.
Morganan and others begin their proper line-up.
Morganan and others begin their proper line-up.

The Equipment

Here is the counter where the milker, cream skimmer, and other utensils are kept. The laundry-style sink is great for washing up bulky items, such as the milk pain, the stock pots in which the milk is refrigerated, and calf-feeding bottles.
Here is the counter where the milker, cream skimmer, and other utensils are kept. The laundry-style sink is great for washing up bulky items, such as the milk pain, the stock pots in which the milk is refrigerated, and calf-feeding bottles.
Here is the milk stand. The step was originally built for Morgana's aunt, "Jingles". She had trouble jumping up without stepping on herself. Several of the goats continue to appreciate this arrangement.
Here is the milk stand. The step was originally built for Morgana's aunt, "Jingles". She had trouble jumping up without stepping on herself. Several of the goats continue to appreciate this arrangement.
Here is the milker hose and compressor switch. Dad prefers not to milk by hand.
Here is the milker hose and compressor switch. Dad prefers not to milk by hand.

The Milking Process

Here comes Mr. James with his first sweetie, a half LaMancha, half Nubian girl named Jonie.
Here comes Mr. James with his first sweetie, a half LaMancha, half Nubian girl named Jonie.
Another intro: "Panzy", who lives up to her name. Dad teases her by calling her "Panzilla". She doesn't use the extra step, but leaps right up.
Another intro: "Panzy", who lives up to her name. Dad teases her by calling her "Panzilla". She doesn't use the extra step, but leaps right up.
"Where's my grain? I want my grain." Each goat is given a few cups of a corn-oat mix to munch while they're being milked.
"Where's my grain? I want my grain." Each goat is given a few cups of a corn-oat mix to munch while they're being milked.
This is "Too". She is an extremely good milk goat specimen. She and her herdmate "Friend" look similar, and she received her name when Mr. James asked her, "Do you want to be my friend, too?"
This is "Too". She is an extremely good milk goat specimen. She and her herdmate "Friend" look similar, and she received her name when Mr. James asked her, "Do you want to be my friend, too?"
Jonie also has a nice profile.
Jonie also has a nice profile.
Panzy again. I like her horns. I wanted her for my own, until I found out what a pansy she truly is.
Panzy again. I like her horns. I wanted her for my own, until I found out what a pansy she truly is.
Still, she looks so classic.
Still, she looks so classic.
Mr. James washes the udders with warm, soapy water...
Mr. James washes the udders with warm, soapy water...
...then attaches the milking machine, which works by gentle, pulsing suction.
...then attaches the milking machine, which works by gentle, pulsing suction.
Most of the goats don't mind being milked at all.
Most of the goats don't mind being milked at all.
This goat has a reasonably good udder attachment (something not all milk goats can brag).
This goat has a reasonably good udder attachment (something not all milk goats can brag).
My daugher, "Tyger", likes to pet the goats, and always speaks to them nicely. (That's a bag of popcorn she's holding. They like that, too.)
My daugher, "Tyger", likes to pet the goats, and always speaks to them nicely. (That's a bag of popcorn she's holding. They like that, too.)
Time to go out. The exchange can happen very quickly, as there are almost always at least two goats trying to get into the room.
Time to go out. The exchange can happen very quickly, as there are almost always at least two goats trying to get into the room.
Other times, certain goats decide they're not done, and must be "helped" from the room.
Other times, certain goats decide they're not done, and must be "helped" from the room.
My son, Billy, also likes to spend time with the goats.
My son, Billy, also likes to spend time with the goats.

Hugs, Kisses, and Tricks

"Hannah" begging for more grain. I wish you could see her lips twitch and her eyes roll.
"Hannah" begging for more grain. I wish you could see her lips twitch and her eyes roll.
Jonie learns to hug.
Jonie learns to hug.
Several of Mr. James' goats give kisses, too. Be careful, though - they smell funny. Mr. James tells them, "Just hugs, no kisses."
Several of Mr. James' goats give kisses, too. Be careful, though - they smell funny. Mr. James tells them, "Just hugs, no kisses."

Sunny Girl

Just because the milking is done doesn't mean chores are over. This is "Sunny", Billy's goat.
Just because the milking is done doesn't mean chores are over. This is "Sunny", Billy's goat.
She is practicing to be a grown-up doe, and may one day be a fine milker.
She is practicing to be a grown-up doe, and may one day be a fine milker.
She is related to Morgana...and acts like it, too. She appreciates the finer things in life, like playing hide'n'seek with spilled oats, and having the run of the milk room.
She is related to Morgana...and acts like it, too. She appreciates the finer things in life, like playing hide'n'seek with spilled oats, and having the run of the milk room.
Spoiled, that's what she is. And proud of it.
Spoiled, that's what she is. And proud of it.

Feeding the Babies

If there are baby goats, they, too, must be fed. This one is big enough to have graduated from a hand-held bottle to a bucket fixed with nipples and flexible tubes which go into a can of milk.
If there are baby goats, they, too, must be fed. This one is big enough to have graduated from a hand-held bottle to a bucket fixed with nipples and flexible tubes which go into a can of milk.

The Matriarch Herself

Obviously this picture was taken before I wrote my "Morgana hub". This is my old girl in November 2009. She wasn't milking, but came in each day for grain rations.
Obviously this picture was taken before I wrote my "Morgana hub". This is my old girl in November 2009. She wasn't milking, but came in each day for grain rations.

Caring For the Milk

Mr. James pours the milk from the milker pail into a 2-gallon stock pot, using a filter.
Mr. James pours the milk from the milker pail into a 2-gallon stock pot, using a filter.
He likes to get the pots full enough for most of the cream to stick to the lids.
He likes to get the pots full enough for most of the cream to stick to the lids.
Time to do dishes. The spray-nozzle, rigged up straight to the hot water supply, powers the dishes clean with very little effort. Mr. James often adds a bit of bleach or other sanitizer to the water.
Time to do dishes. The spray-nozzle, rigged up straight to the hot water supply, powers the dishes clean with very little effort. Mr. James often adds a bit of bleach or other sanitizer to the water.
A stainless steel drainboard, where Mr. James can organize and store his equipment, is a very convenient thing.
A stainless steel drainboard, where Mr. James can organize and store his equipment, is a very convenient thing.

Milking Times - How Long Does It Take to Milk a Goat?

That's it. At the time these pictures were taken (fall 2009), Mr. James had several does milking. The whole process could take well over an hour.

On average, each doe takes about five minutes to actually milk out with a machine. Hand milking can take longer - say, 7 to 15 minutes apiece, depending on udder conformation and the personality of the goat (how skittish is she?).

Having goats has turned into a labor of love for Mr. James...as it does for many goat owners. Goats are a bit like dogs in their personalities, and usually like the humans in their lives very much.

You get more than milk from a dairy goat...you get love and laughs, too.

A Peek at Various Popular Goat Breeds from Around the World. Which One Do You Like?

Love Goats?

Do you enjoy raising and milking your own milk goats? Leave a comment below and let me know what you love about them.

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  • Not yet, but I have plans to start with goats soon
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Comments 16 comments

Ivorwen profile image

Ivorwen 6 years ago from Hither and Yonder

Goats are such characters, with so much personality! As a child, I remember trying to talk my parents into getting miniature goats, but my dad said they would just eat everything... I didn't know you could milk goats back then. :D


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Ivorwen,

Actually, goats are notoriously picky eaters. They just eat different things than most domestic herbivores. They will often pass up lush grass in favor of dry tumbleweeds. They are browsers, and will strip trees as high as they can reach standing on their back legs. It is true that they sometimes aquire tastes for unusual items, like paper towels, and they will chew on clothes. "Jingles" used to refuse to leave the milk room until she'd had a paper towel. :-)

It is also true that goats are almost impossible to fence into a specific location. They are great at finding any gap or hole or chink in an enclosure, and can squish down like mice to take advantage of tiny holes. They sometimes get their heads or horns stuck in wire paneling, in attempts to see what's on the other side.

But they are still great to have.


bonny2010 profile image

bonny2010 6 years ago from outback queensland

another great hub, really enjoyed this love the way you write your hubs - just so natural and full of care and love for what you write about - thank you


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Bonny,

Your comment brightened my day. I'm glad you liked the hub.


skye2day profile image

skye2day 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

Hello Joy at Home, I never knew a farm man, so this will be fun to follow. Your children growing up in this atmosphere is such a Blessing. I love your photos Joy at Home.

Many Blessings


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Skye,

I love being able to share this kind of life. I'm pleased to meet you.


Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 6 years ago from West Virginia

Iused to have goats, a mom and her son. I milked her myself and she loved it after we had a talking and she undertood me. Her name was Claire and she was special and honery. She would play games with us. She would wait until we were all in the car and then some how jump the fence and we would have to get her and put her back in and tell her that we promise that we would be right back. That was whenwe moved her to the back of the yard in a bigger space and she couldn't see us get into the car to go somewhere.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Lady Guinevere,

I agree, goats are funny creatures. :-D


GarnetBird profile image

GarnetBird 6 years ago from Northern California

These photos are wonderful--I have always liked goats and really wish I wasn't allergic to goat's milk (and to milk too)I especially love the one of Hannah peeking out. Great HUB!


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Garnet, thank you for stopping by! I'm so sorry to hear you're allergic to goats' milk. Glad you liked silly old Hannah.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

My regards to Mr. James :-D


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

I'll pass on those regards, DeGreek. :-)


nicomp profile image

nicomp 5 years ago from Ohio, USA

Wonderful photos. Thank you for sharing with us.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 5 years ago from United States Author

Nicomp,

You're very welcome.


Angela 3 years ago

Love your site! And I too, love my goats for milk and cheese!


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 3 years ago from United States Author

Angela,

Thanks for the goodwill, and it's great to meet a fellow goat lover!

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    Joy At Home profile image

    Joy At Home254 Followers
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    Joy has been a goat lover and cheese lover for nearly 20 years, and enjoys experimenting with making her own cheeses and dairy products.



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